Artists like myself are genuinely pissed off at the latest algorithms of nearly every social media platform around. With all these old money companies passing off as small lax af startups its getting harder and harder to tell them apart from indie small business. The reality is that the bottom half of the iceberg is a combination of multi-million dollar cross lateral deals with public IPO’s prices being the only incentive behind every app or piece of content we interact with. You are the part of the equation that makes the ads they sell valuable. Your followers no longer matter, your post’s don’t matter, they just need you busy doing something.
Ethics within UI and design in general has taken a backseat. Agencies have ultimately destroyed the idea of the conscious designer.
It’s data or die hard, it’s click bait or bust, it’s key words like ‘we’re moving forward’ in the midst of crisis. Words like ‘pivot’ which mean nothing. Are there cool keywords or phrases ever used to describe ways to make human life better? Even the word ethics has seemed to evaporate from every workplace discussion.
The algorithm is working to raise the stock price at the cost of a future without ethics, sacrificing a world which could work better for all of us. Your art, or followers is no where in their equation. They’ve gotten so large they don’t need you to love their platform, they just need you to use it.
The concept of the ‘user’ is not a human. They are a figment of our imagination, a variable, a person that does not sleep or eat or feel. The ‘user’ has no face, is not our neighbor or our family it’s simply the opposite of where we are at any given moment.
Bringing most of these large social networking conglomerates to not consider the repercussions to our democracies, our mental health or our careers.
We’re all the same to them. Items placed in a marketplace, we are not people but batteries charging their money machines. An eerie concept at best.
They have a global pay-to-play news network, either you pay to stay relevant or deal with it.
You’re Free to Go Viral If You Can Afford It
Startups came with promises of being different from the irresponsible old money which rampaged through our world for decades. However given the careless practices within the board room these companies only make our lives more complicated. Data breaches, built in back doors and credit card bureaus lying about hacks. Not to mention companies riddled in scandal developing apps that are disrupting trillion dollar industries. Paying website hostage money in secret, while offering this faulty code to the world.
In 2018 the internet has become the system, the man, the record label, the phone company, the oil empire an arm to the evil billionaire madman.
So new social media platforms will arise promising a conscious, but is that enough to let people control what is considered important to us? Eventually curated means censored. If we don’t demand more from our most used websites we’ll be charged per minute for every cat video they tell us to watch.
Don’t believe me look at the steps being taken to destroy net neutrality within the last few months.
Not everything that glitters is gold, your body is a wonderland, choose your saying. So sure your video of your pet can go viral. There is technically still the internet equivalent of a golden ticket out there but also know Mark Zuckerberg is Willy Wonka in this metaphor.
Getting You Mad Makes Them Money
Sell ads by any means necessary that’s their motto. Keep this in mind when you go surfing, they cannot make money off their algorithms without your viewership. It’s in their best interest to purge your homepage with spam, angry posts, political propaganda and other troll material to have you engaged.
That is money in the bank for them. Sure you might share a cute dog video or use social media to say happy birthday to your friends, but only a comment challenging your beliefs or core principles will keep you arguing for hours on end.
Ruining any given day but still the engagement is there. Like my good friend’s father once said when asked why Coca-Cola still spends money on commercials after being such a large company.
The answer he gave was because they still need you. Food for thought.
Toxic Groups and the Horde Mentality
For artists when things aren’t going amazing, we tend to blame ourselves and search new ways to expand our network. This may lead to joining a group on social media which the internet as one point was amazing for, the communities. Which there are still plenty of likely on Discord but nothing like the forums of the past. In essence all communities have become connected through these major social media platforms, making organic niche communities rarer to find.
So instead of groups built around a common interests or development you see self proclaimed art groups with nothing but spam. Posts of random people uploading art that does not belong to them. Receiving hundreds of likes then breaking the news somewhere within a comment reply that it wasn’t their work to begin with. While original artists experience nothing but cringe sessions when sharing their work.
Groups having admins initiate in online bullying against their own members only adds to the toxicity!
Spam posts of people asking for free design work flood these groups. Clients asking for work and offering less than few US dollars per given design. This is what the algorithm is deeming the most valuable content for us.
Design for Humans
That’s why it’s important to build your own network of those you trust and respect. So that you can find some solitude in a common interest. Utilize the network don’t be a network utility, you are no empty user. Use social media like the tool it is, if you can afford the subscription packages.
To find any solitude in the likes on anything besides a brand new music video or niche YouTube channel is self sabotage.
There is still a beauty to the web for those willing to try new things, but in a world where crooked wins elections and gets the M’s on YouTube. I wonder if the creative of the future will have to be nothing but a walking IRL character of himself. Then again what would life have been like with Dali or Kurt Cobain on Twitch?
In conclusion the new internet of 2018 is a business, not a hobby. Everything around you is connected, backed by big money. Social media companies literally make millions off of controversy in your life, post by post, collecting data on you and trying to know you better than you know yourself.
While we cannot deny technological advancements around us we must find ethics within these concepts, or risk living in a world where the herd mentality rules our every move. A world where the things we’ve created around us really doesn’t give a damn about our comfort or well being.