Being responsible about technology: A tipping point?

I had a 'Social Networking app' account (one of the most popular companies) for many years and I enjoyed using it for a million different reasons. The ads and the games did bother me a little but it was easy to accept the little discomfort that came along while I was having such a hearty time connecting with my friends and loved ones.

I deleted my account recently. I reached the threshold in my tolerance of what was acceptable to me as a tech product user. My reason for deletion was this- I was absolutely irritated by the trending videos that started playing automatically on the side of my page. What I hated even more was that the local bias affected what was playing on my screen. I wondered about having a choice of not having any trending videos or headlines to play at all. After loitering around in the FAQs section for a bit, I found that the feature was not off-able in my area. I did not like that. In fact I was alarmed. Because while I'd be online I'd have to watch whatever was coming up at least for a few secs before I realized I liked it or not.

If online apps were just a business that were selling products and all we needed to do was say No and move on with our lives, there wasn’t any problem. Unfortunately it is not. They are our go to place for all our social doings. In fact we go there daily like we go to office or like we go home. We have fomo if we don’t. I recently went to a Women in Tech meetup and the only way I could sign up for the event was on a social networking App page. It being a relatively small event I was able to cheat my way through by emailing the organizer. We trust these sites. We believe they can do us no harm. To have anything come up unexpectedly can affect our minds negatively. The impact of these can be especially significant on kids or teenagers who use them almost as their lifelines; most of them being un-monitored while parents are away for late hours at work.

We are already aware (I hope) of the serious attention crisis that is gnawing at us due to the unsuspecting yet distracting nature of media/internet products. Before we finish a thought, we have a notification come up. If we don’t keep a tab on the ever upcoming new user agreements we are only surprised to find that our xyz data is being tracked, our this profile is public, our photographs are being shared with all etc. With zillions of social platforms to keep up with, ignorance is the only bliss. The systems are setup to take advantage of our lazy-ness and busy-ness. What is creepy is that this is subtle and surreptitiously creeping in and we don’t know well- what, when and how it is affecting us. And it is happening fast!

But my main and biggest concern yet is this- We are losing freedom.

It’s only been 2-3 decades of technology. Isn't the human value of freedom important to us? Can we be responsible about technology? Have we reached a tipping point yet?

[In the words of Paul Graham of Y Combinator, we haven’t had time to develop societal “antibodies to addictive new things.” Graham puts responsibility on the user: “Unless we want to be canaries in the coal mine of each new addiction — the people whose sad example becomes a lesson to future generations — we’ll have to figure out for ourselves what to avoid and how.”-Text source: Nir Eyal's blog- the morality of manipulation]

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