'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

Paul Lewis, The Guardian, Oct 08, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I remember having a conversation once with a friend who was having an existential crisis because she wasn't sure whether any of her thoughts were her own. She had realized (as do I) the extent to which her ideas, beliefs and habits were influenced, even controlled, by external influences. This was before the days of Facebook addition, but all the means were still present: online and mass media, social pressures, the news hype cycle, expectations at home or in the office. So while this article describes the phenomenon on social media addition, my perspective is that it's the same story in new clothing. Since when has social approval not been addictive? Since when has this not been leveraged by advertisers, educators and propagandists to entice people into working against their own best interests? I think of the Civitus Vetus of Rome, the playing grounds of Eton, and the halls of West Point all in the same breath. The only thing that changes is who is in charge.

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