In my past two blog posts, I discussed the current state of social media in society, and the fact the social media is merely a tool that can be used for good or evil depending on the user. This week, I’ll wrap up this three-week series and focus on social media by prognosticating about the future of the medium and media.
All of the largest social media platforms and the people who facilitate them are listening to us intently. They’re collecting, analyzing, using, buying and selling any information through our devices. In a CNBC article, an industry professional, Otis Kimzey, says “The most dramatic change by 2039 will not only be the amount of data that will be available to everyone but also the decision-making power of that data. We currently have thermostats that learn our preferences, watches that take our pulse, and Nike even knows how often and how fast we run, and this is just the beginning.” (Wellons, M. C., “11 Predictions on the future of social media”, https://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/02/11-predictions-on-the-future-of-social-media.html)
It’s frightening to ponder who is in control of that enormous amount of data and how it could be used to manipulate the public. We’ve already had a taste of this in the last presidential election. The findings are becoming increasingly clear that the Russians used social media and media to influence the election results to their benefit.
This possibility was alluded to in this week’s reading, “Communication for Development”, by Wendy Quarry and Ricardo Ramirez. In the book, they write, “It illustrates how a well-designed campaign, which utilizes media intelligently, and which orchestrates other tangible action on the ground, can lead to awareness-raising and behavioural change.” (Quarry and Ramirez, p. 20) However, I’m not sure if this statement also includes negative behavioral change.
The reason I mentioned the social media platforms and media previously is because at the end of the day, these are massive corporations with vast amounts of wealth and power. And having studied economics, it’s not the nature of corporations in a capitalistic market to make less profit, no matter what the costs. So what does this mean for the public? If corporations’ end-game is to sustain profitability, how will all our data be leveraged? Do you have trust in the billionaires of the world to not exploit us for their personal gain?
Through my organization, The DIAL Group, where we leverage the talents of artists to assist communities, one of our programs is to teach youth digital media skills and to use the technology responsibly. We do this by training then, and them having them work on a service learning project. Although I believe my organization and I are doing the right thing by educating youth about technology through digital media, I personally don’t have a that much hope for the future of social media, based on the past couple of decades it’s been in existence, but maybe the next generation will be different that all the generations that came before them.