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Top tech luminaries based in Silicon Valley have themselves condemned social media and excessive use of technology as damaging to society and detrimental to users. 

Tim Cook, the current Apple CEO even admitted that Apple products are not meant for constant use. Back in 2018 in a keynote address at the European Parliament, he said ;

“our own information from the everyday to the deeply personal is weaponised against us with military efficiency” and “how technology can harm rather than help”

Hardly a revelation if you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. They can be addictive and damaging if we don’t switch off from time to time. 

This addiction is created on purpose by tech giants based in the beautiful Bay Area where these companies are becoming pretty much financial superpowers. They keep us so engaged, that we use their sites as if it was a mandatory part of our daily routines.

And what are we gaining not just from using these sites but specifically by commenting and engaging with others on them? 

Reading through the comments in a Facebook post by a well known national newspaper, all I could read were verbal attacks between users as everyone had different views on the news story topic. Some of those users made their feelings clear, they were upset about someone else attacking them to the point that comments were having a bad effect on their day and their mental health. 

This is probably very familiar to us all. You follow several media organisations in Facebook and when scrolling through your timeline, you come across news that you find unfair, or headlines that are misleading or articles featuring people that don’t really deserve more media space. Then you add a comment expressing your opinion.

You log off and when you log back in again, there it is, a backlash against you. People attacking you just because you disagree with them, some even insulting you.

You start feeling down as your comment was genuine and no harm was intended. But still people will take offence and reply back to let you know their feelings towards your comment.

Life is complicated as it is, so to add extra tranquility, avoid commenting Facebook news posts, or anything you see in social media. Stop altogether. Even if it annoys you.By the end of the day, you are just allowing these companies to collect data about you, to sell that data and to get to know you. Yes, they are bright even if their intelligence is more than questionable when it comes to basic human ethics. 

Quoting Tim Cook speaking at the European Parliament;

“For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values including privacy. We should not sugarcoat the consequences . This is surveillance and this collection of personal data serves only to enrich the companies that collect them”

“Even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false. This crisis is real , it is not imagined or exaggerated or crazy”

Are we surprised by the Apple CEO words? Nope. Tech companies and their social media platforms don’t care about your opinion but they do care about user engagement. 

Even though all you are getting by commenting on a news post are insults by trolls and haters, they are getting advertising money. And the social media marketing executives working for them, possibly a pay rise as they are engaging the audience successfully even if all they managed to achieve in terms of engagement are users posting hateful comments. 

Hardly sparking a debate, is it?

Nowadays, I no longer engage in this. Facebook sold my private data, made money from it and what did I get in return? Feeling down when I was on the receiving end of personal attacks.

Here is a personal experience.I was a member of a private Facebook group for Female Freelance Journalists in the U.K.

When I posted a genuine question on the forum, all I got were snarky and malicious comments from other women and one went as far as insulting me. 

This was my query in the forum; I was offered a freelance job with a news organisation and the rate they offered was not competitive, by this I meant it would not cover my living costs for the amount of work I was requested to produce and so I asked the forum if they thought the rate was competitive. 

Whereas some people replied to the question giving what is the ongoing rate for that type of work, one woman made the usual passive aggressive comment. Instead of trying to be helpful and reply to my question with an answer, she replied with a question, “why do you say is not a competitive rate when you don’t know even know what a competitive rate is?”

Fed up as I was of being a foreign woman with an accent working in the U.K. media industry where the doors have shut in my face just because of accentism, I no longer felt intimidated by them. If anything, I could smell some resentment at me getting a job they would actually like to have themselves. 

I wrote back saying her answer was a clear example of a passive aggressive comment . Then, in came the bullies and the gang member attitudes. Another one said my comment was disgusting and that I should quit journalism. And eventually I stopped reading other comments as lost my interest and could see they were not trying to help me but to put me down.

For us, people who use platforms created in wealthy and prosperous Silicon Valley, we should do as their top executives, avoid, switch off, don’t engage.After all, they definitely know a thing or two about the little monsters they created.

If they don’t even allow their kids to use tech devices or sign up to social media platforms, then that should tell us a lot about relaxing the use we make of the services they provide. They are useful when you use them occasionally and only when needed but damaging when you can’t set a limit. 

For Silicon Valley social media executives, the more comments, the more engagement, the better. Are you getting paid for commenting and engaging with social media posts on a daily basis? If the answer is no, remember that they are getting to know you by your likes, dislikes and opinions which for them equals profit. 

According to Tim Cook;

”Now more than ever as citizens we must ask ourselves , what kind of world do we want to live in ?”

Technology is capable of doing great things, but as for social media platforms and forums, there are hardly any in the Internet that will enrich your life and make you a better human. If that unheard of online oasis exists, it will definitely not be found on the comment sections of any social media platforms or forums.