Monday, July 11, 2016

Election selection

Conservative elements in America have recently protested that Facebook may have a liberal bias. The social media company has defended itself and said that Facebook's functioning is not influenced by the political choices of its management or employees. While this is probably true, with Facebook being equally accessible to all people irrespective of their political leanings, I argue that social media, by virtue of it being on a (currently) free internet, is a liberal tool; irrespective of what its management may say and do to keep looking independent. 

Social media has revolutionized social interaction in two general ways:

1. Interaction is between crafted representative avatars rather than real people. Our airbrushed, free-thinking, like-awarding, social commentator avatar interacts with other cartoons of the same make in a sandbox world of finite means. Our perceptions based on these interactions, however, are in the real world. This gives us a heavily cognitively biased set of conclusions to react to and our real world reactions sometimes are the opposite of what we choose to evoke in the sandbox. 

2. Your interaction is your presence. Social media is not a place for introverts. You cannot smile warmly and hope that it counts as a social action on the internet. You share anything between a supportive +1,  to a high-definition live video of your life to mark your presence. That has not been the human way for a good chunk of us; how I dress up is not a social interaction (though some rapists differ) but uploading a photo of myself on Facebook is. Social media, therefore, does a poor job in mimicking and substituting for real social interaction leaving a lot of us dissatisfied or depressed. 

This is not to say that social media is bad. It acts as a good compliment to true social interaction rather than a replacement, and that is what we ought to take it as. The human condition cannot evolve to keep up with the freedom and framework of social media, making this a social experiment that nobody really understands well enough to predict an outcome. For a lot of us, it is jarring for sure. 

Back to politics, conservative thinking places its faith on a traditional lifestyle of choice (or conditioning) and strives to not move away from it. At times, this is a logical choice - you have faith and comfort in a tried and tested method that has worked for generations before you and has stood strong against the test of time. What it is not good against though, is changed evolutionary pressure, and different circumstances may demand a more case-defined approach than a formulaic one. 

The conservative approach relies on the recirculation of traditionalist ideas rather than the free sharing of ideas in an unweighted manner. The liberal school of thought however chooses to engage such ideas aligning it perfectly with the rules of social media on a free internet. So Facebook is not liberal because of the views of its makers. It is not liberal because it is populated by more liberals than conservatives (hypothetically). It is liberal because it attempts to be unweighted on a free-access internet. And that cannot be fixed; unless you violate net neutrality...

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