One silver lining of the 2016 election was was a bit of transparency surrounding social media. Over the past year, lots of journalism exposed what we’ve known all along: social media companies don’t care about you, your privacy, or the fate of your fragile democracy, they just want to use every bit of information you willfully or involuntarily share on the internet to make as much money as they possibly can whilst making themselves feel more cool in the process. Were you surprised?
Four good pieces exposing what’s going on at Facebook [and by association, its child company instagram] are by the New York Times here, Wired here, John Oliver here and an interview with Stephen Dubner here. It’s not worth complaining about, because all the social media options are really just tools: like a hammer or a miter saw, they’re there for you to use if you want to, but how you use them, and what you use them for is entirely up to you; just bear in mind the same laws of life apply, even in the digital age: there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so don’t feign anger when you find out your data was sold to Cambridge Analytica because they wanted it, and they have the money to get it.
I am biased, but two critical takeaways I gathered from the aforementioned journalism were:
1. Every attempt of Mark Zuckerberg or his coterie of fabulously wealthy tech geeks to portray an innocent company that was really just trying to make the world better by connecting everyone sounded disingenuous and hollow.
2. It’s questionable just how much better social media is making the world with their current model and trajectory
So, I’m taking an extended break. I do feel compelled to share some of my favorite moments captured from the last 12 months, though, and I hope you enjoy them too. Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2018 was a great year to reflect upon and to learn from, and to catalyze an even better 2019.