The Social Media Economy Kill Switch

“Distracted from distraction by distraction”

― 

T.S. Eliot

Our current social media economy is one kill switch away from oblivion.

Sean Parker, one of the co-founders of Facebook who resigned in 2005, said that Facebook’s goal is not to keep us as humans connected but to keep us distracted. When someone gets a like, follow via a post or video, there’s a small dopamine hit.

We are a digital generation addicted to dopamine.

Dopamine discovered in 1950 is how humans desire to satisfy their needs. By 1980 Wolfram Schultz, now a professor of neuroscience at Cambridge University, discovered dopamine relates to the reward we receive for an action. Dopamine identifies more with desire, ambition, addiction, and sex drive.

Then the kill switch for the social media economy occurred by accident or on purpose Monday, 4 October 2021. The outage began around 12:30 EDT and ended a little more than five hours later.

Billions hit the refresh button on their browsers. Installed, de-installed, and re-installed Instagram and WhatsApp – thinking it was a phone problem. Millions looked for other ways to use their time online.

Adult websites saw a massive spike in viewership during the hours that Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Oculus went dark.

Mark Zuckerberg via a post on Facebook said the outage occurred due to an internal error. Others and conspiracy theories suggest Facebook and its subsidiaries were taken down to wipe data implicating it with knowingly focuses on profit above people stated by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Zuckerberg lost six billion dollars in wealth when Facebook and its subsidiaries went down.

No one has commented on the millions lost by stand-up comedians, digital creators, real estate agents, and mom and pops that rely on Facebook Groups, Facebook Posts, and Instagram Stories to drive revenue. This is what we call the social media economy.

The social media economy today –

This new social media economy has even created a new niche of “influencer marketing”.

Influencers are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic.

Most basic influencers formula charges brands $100 for every 10,000 followers.

Each deal has to also account for an influencer’s following, engagement metrics, while also calculating added fees like exclusivity, usage rights, and timing.

Now combine a new economy that requires 24/7 uptime technology, 24/7 always-on charisma, and 24/7 hits of dopamine – now you have all the ingredients for a breakdown in society.

We have become dependent on a digital house of cards to keep this economy moving. If the internet infrastructure goes down or a server configuration is misdiagnosed, yes, social media economists can move to other platforms – TikTok, Twitch (which had its own recent problems), Twitter, LinkedIn, and other smaller players. But transitioning content, strategies, and most importantly followers – takes time. And as the adage goes, time is money.

The 5-hour outage was nothing compared to what could happen. What if the outage was bigger?

A kill switch for the social economy would only need a single detonated EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) bomb near server farms in Virginia. Or space debris generating a Kessler Syndrome that destroys all LEO (Low Earth Orbit), MEO (Middle Earth Orbit), and GEO (Geosynchronous Orbit) satellites.

Not only would millions in Bitcoin suddenly vanish. Or driving from place to place without the use of Google Maps or Waze create a rat’s nest of traffic snarls. Mobile phones would brick. All of us would have to return to using rotary phones connected by phone lines – only if the older, obsolete phone switches were still operational in telephone central offices.

Millennials would have to use radios with physical buttons and dials to get information. Goodbye Wikipedia and hello printed books. People would break into libraries for knowledge.

Worse yet if it’s a Kessler Syndrome, humans would be trapped on the face of the earth. No longer would there be space tourism or the opportunity of humans living on the moon or Mars. Humans would be destroyed by trillions of space debris shards ripping through any vehicle we send into the upper atmosphere traveling at 17,000 miles per hour.

A society craving for dopamine would be cut off cold turkey. This could cause rioting, looting, and other atrocities.

All of this is because a website came into existence that is focused on distraction. Or as the numerous whistleblowers have stated, focused on “profits over people“.

The question we should be asking is not if Facebook should be government-supervised and/or regulated. But should a social media economy be seen as a potential threat to society and re-imagined? Force people to start finding the off-ramp.

During Covid-19 and the US Presidential Election of 2020, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were more than a distraction, they became a human kill switch.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”. – Albert Einstein