The Click Economy

Facebook is part of life. There’s no shame in admitting it: I use it, you probably use it, and, like many things in life, it wants our money. From ‘free’ games to clickbait, Facebook is full of user traps that can and will harm you – however small or inoffensive that harm is. Facebook will store more of your personal information than is necessarily legal; certainly far more than you willingly gave. Cookies will be installed without your consent (no, I don’t count fifty-page user agreements that no-one in the world reads as ‘consent’). Favourite groups can be bought by shady advertising companies, in which case, you may politically deign to ‘unfollow’.

 

Though we may grumble, we accept these risks as the ‘bill’ for using free services. Sites like Facebook are our most important address books, business organisers, and vents for stress. They are, to use a grim analogy, a drip-feed of modern life. News links may lie, individuals may spout venomous opinions – but in the midst of all this mire, we can grasp what the world truly is.

 

But that depends entirely on us: who we choose to follow, which brands we attach ourselves too, which channels of information we deem worthy (not the same as ‘trustworthy’). It may seem innocuous, but our digital footprint will soon define us as people – if it doesn’t already. Look at the reaction to Donald Trump’s late-night tweeting, the way internet memes factored into the Presidential Election. The real world politicizes the digital, and the digital affects real-world politics. Boundaries blur. We are all part of the data-flow, with the mandate to be digital philosophers while simultaneously being machine consumers – statistics in the play of mega-corporations.

 

But change is in the air. Whether due to the Presidential Election, or simply reaching the tipping-point after a century of being warned of technology’s evils, we are growing wise. We know that, with every click, we feed data into a system geared to categorise, divide, and eventually guide our lives on an individual basis. What to wear, where to eat, whom we should socialise with – there’s nothing particularly malicious about it; it just automates a complex capitalist industry, with the end-goal of selling more salsa, keeping you in work, and stirring the great economic mixing-pot. It makes life easier…but in the process, we become figures and statistics, and help fuel a globalist, automated future.

 

We fools know, now, what we do; and it’s up to each individual to decide how integrated they will be, how attached to the system. It’s not a case of good versus evil or rich versus poor – it’s globalism versus individualism, two moral grey areas. Choose wisely.

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