The Silicon Valley documentary-makers call for consciousness and conscience in the digital world. Big Bee stands with them.
If you’ve not yet watched The Social Dilemma, get on Netflix immediately and add it to your List (it would be rude to start watching before reading my blog!). Its message is something we need to hear LOUD and CLEAR: We are being manipulated, and it needs to stop.
For those who’ve not yet dived ‘down the rabbit hole’ of The Social Dilemma, here’s a synopsis (there’s going to be spoilers)…
The Social Dilemma is a film made by former leaders and developers from within the world’s largest tech companies: Google, Facebook, Instagram…It centres predominantly around Tristan Harris, former Google design ethicist and founder of the Center for Humane Technology. I’m going to bow down to CHT’s About page to explain Tristan’s experience:
“Our journey began in 2013 when Tristan Harris, a design ethicist at Google, observed the large-scale negative impacts of attention-grabbing business models. His presentation “A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention” went viral internally, reaching thousands of employees. Tristan extended the conversation publicly with two TED talks and a 60 Minutes interview, sparking the Time Well Spent movement. The number of concerned insiders was growing… Then, in 2016, the harms Tristan and others were warning of exploded into the public discourse with Russia’s use of social media to manipulate American voters.”
Endless time-stealing loops
That gives you a little taste of what is discussed in The Social Dilemma, which spells out in detail the psychological manipulation that tech companies use to gain and maintain our attention, pulling us into endless loops of information consumption.
And then it details the frankly terrifying effects that this is having on our lives and our societies, and particularly on young people. Juxtaposing suicide figures of the young before life with social media and the ever-growing occurrences now, the consequences of this new habit, this new drug, are stark.
“There’s only two industries in the world that use the term ‘users’ instead of ‘customers’: technology and drugs.”
Why am I highlighting this? As a content marketer? Because when I set up Big Bee, I wanted to do things differently. I’ve had similar frustrations working in-house in businesses where conversations ignored safeguarding vulnerable people in favour of profit. And that’s not how I roll.
I started my career as a journalist wanting to do my bit to shape a better world and that’s not changed.
I believe in content that supports, not forces customers to make decisions.
I believe in providing value, by writing content that helps readers in some way.
I believe in assisting customers to achieve what they want to achieve in a way that gives them genuine pleasure.
I believe in respecting the time of readers by not providing needless fluff in the name of SEO.
CHT is ‘dedicated to creating the conditions for radically reimagined 21st century digital infrastructure’. They ask technologists to ‘obsess over values’ instead of engagement; to ‘nurture mindfulness’ instead of vying for attention, and to ‘bind growth with responsibility’.
From my little content company in Sussex, England, I stand with Tristan and his avant-garde of Silicon Valley ethicists and ask all of us working in digital to be mindful of our ‘users’, to work considerately and morally, to be the best humans we can be, to avoid walking blindly (while staring at our phones) into total self-destruction of society…
Think that’s being dramatic? Watch the show and let me know if you disagree.
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