Dancing For The Devil is the symptom not the problem


Eagle, CO

Last updated on Jun 9, 2024

Posted on Jun 9, 2024


I started watching Dancing For The Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult on Netflix last night. I had to turn it off. Not because it was poorly made. Because I've seen this story over and over - another example of why social media is a social disease.

When I first started in tech circa '87 we said AOL (America Online) isn't the Internet - it's a walled off garden to keep people from the Internet. We were right. We envisaged a world where content wasn't constrained by some corporation.

Today, social media is the new AOL. Because for many, maybe at least 1 billion people, social media is the Internet. It's where they get their news and information and interact with "friends". I put quotations around friends because on balance, Internet friends aren't really friends. Friends help you move. They meet you for coffee, go skiing with you.

Social media traps people in a bizarre world of likes and followers. It's a trap because the more you use it, the more trapped you become. It eventually changes how you think. Because you find yourself only paying attention to those with a lot of followers. If something doesn't get a lot of likes or comments it must not be any good. You find yourself engaging with comments. You want to react to everything you see in your social media feed. Now you're ensnarled in the trap, addicted. Getting out isn't easy. Because maybe you've spent years in the trap - perhaps even furnished it.

I'm not writing this to describe in depth the sickness that social media has befallen on us. There's books written about it. 15 years ago two great movies were made - We Live In Public and Catfish. I have years of content on heyheyrenee.com about it.

Instead, I just want you to get your head around the insanity of making important decisions based entirely on likes and followers, or interacting with comments - most of whom are sock puppets. It's the symptom and subtext of the problem in Dancing With The Devil.

The problem, is we did this to ourselves. How? We got hooked on free software. As I've written over and over, there's a big cost behind free software. It's cost us dearly and we've got to get out of the trap.

If you're not familiar with the insanity of likes, followers, comments, and sock puppets, the extent to which you're being manipulated and brainwashed each day, follow these links.

Inside Israel’s million dollar troll army
Fake grassroots group Act.IL, funded by Israel, aims to “influence foreign publics.”

Disinformation isn't new. The United States has been influencing elections and policies in other countries via sophisticated propaganda techniques for years. What's different, is the speed and ease of which millions of people can be convinced of a lie. Not just convinced of a lie, but take action on it - spread the lie on social media. Then once the lie gets likes and is retweeted, it becomes truth. Because again, millions of minds have been conditioned to evaluate information based on likes and who they follow. Spreading a lie is simple now, because everyone is in the same place - either on Twitter or Facebook.

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
― Mark Twain

I've been recovering from booze and drug addiction one day at a time since 4.16.07. The first step in recovery - step 1 - is admitting to having a problem.

If you can see, then accept, the degree to which you're being manipulated and brainwashed each time you login to social media, you're now at step 1 and can take action.

So what's the action you can take? Quitting social media? What can we do about this trap we're in?

My brain has been fried from all this, too. I've lost the ability to concentrate. I'll tell you what I'm doing. I've stopped paying attention to anonymous accounts. I'm working to rid myself of the thought that someone's credibility, or a product's value, is in anyway relational to social media. I won't support any company that makes me deal with them on social media. I'm working on weaning myself from the terrible habit of needing to react to news or whatever. I'm still on Twitter, but I'm only following accounts that identify themselves. I've stopped reading or posting comments.

Reading books helps. So does making lists - and sticking to them. My brain is a muscle. The more I exercise it the stronger it gets. I'm confident as a born again hooker with new shoes that I'll regain my ability to concentrate.

I'm also a big advocate for the Open Web.

The good news is that the tide is turning. The Open Web is happening - because there's a market for it - more and more people are getting to step 1 daily. They've admitted that a world built on likes, followers, comments and sock puppets is insanity. They seek an alternative to today's social media.

The Open Web can't come soon enough. But I believe the time is coming soon when people will look back on social media and ask themselves how they let it happen.

And then I can rest.

tty next time,

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