Lately, the world humanity created with the Internet has become smaller and faster. In the future, this global community will be created in equal parts by African children and top managers in New York. As a consequence, our virtual neighbors are becoming more like our neighbors in the real world.
The media sets the parameters for the information that we consume. At present, we are almost on an information diet, which includes a lot of data relevant only to a particular person. Humble custom filters of search engines and social media without correction turn into an invisible system of automatic propaganda which influence’s our own ideas. This is strengthening our devotion to the well-known and comfortable and leaving us blind to potential threats of the unknown.
The first concerns about the personalization of media were hinted at 15 years ago. Cass Sunstein wrote a witty and provocative book on the subject in 2000. His theories have quickly become a reality. A lot of people fail to realize how deeply this propaganda is integrated into our lives and affects each one of us. This influence extends far beyond Facebook and Google and reaches into almost every important website. If the propaganda represents the law, then it is important to understand what the new lawmakers want. Eli Pariser, author of the book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, studied the “firewall filters” that are currently being utilized and tried to understand what their impact means regarding the personalization of the information streams for our daily lives.
The modern Internet is a strong system of control and hub for the gathering of personal data. Your complete search history will soon be known by sellers who will follow you even after the purchase of a single product. But this is not the worst part of the controlling system. As you already know, search engines automatically customize and give every person the most relevant data. For example, for the request “stem cells” the scientist and Greenpeace activist will have totally opposite results. Social media is now working in a similar way. Some of the posts you fail to like will be cut from your feed while others, more likely to interest you, will appear.
On one hand, specialized filters are a very effective way to clarify the deluge of information from the whole internet and that saves you the time. On the other hand, filters keep you from discovering new things or encountering unusual points of view. Under the guise of providing help, filters actually provide a glass that isolates you from the larger world. That is how the Internet makes loners of those who prefer to stay in a comfort zone. And the fact that this glass is invisible only makes it worse because we fail to understand how much important information we routinely miss.
So it is a matter of choice: either you want to live in your small, comfortable world or you are ready to face the real planet Earth with all its problems and variety of opinions. But remember that self-development comes only with learning things that oppose your current point of view.