For about half an hour now, I was trying to figure out an opening salvo that would garner some attention. But then I thought of jotting down the truth which is that I am not able to figure out an enticing intro to hook the readers and make them doff their hats. Also since the dawn of the post-truth era, truth has become scarce. Had it been a tangible commodity, then buying and investing in truth would be a sure shot way of amassing a fortune. Also to make sure my audience gets blown away with my arrangement of words, I need to understand what people want to read and what excites them. In other words, to create the greatest impact I have to think like my target audience. Once I figure out what my target audience wants to read, I would be able give shape to their wants in the form of an article. However, the entire success of my work is dependent on the hypothesis that people know what they want. Do people know what they want? Is the decision making process an individual’s own choice, or are the decisions nudged by external forces that we are not aware of?
Mah Lyf Mah WaY!
Steve Jobs whom I need not introduce, said that “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. Or Henry Ford who allegedly said that “if I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. On the other hand, if we go by Nielson which is a market research firm, in the FMCG industry around 80–85%product launches fail. So when consumers themselves don’t know what they want, how are these behemoths going to figure that out? They are not the protagonists of Inception who can get into the dreams of their consumers and extract hard kept secrets!! But then how do these multibillion dollar enterprises sell their products if they are not able to understand what people want? The answer is simple. They create the wants. They lure you like the deep slumber which greets you when you are back home after a day of back breaking work. They don’t plant dreams in your mind, they plant thoughts and feelings. And the paragon in manufacturing these wants is Facebook.
Lo and behold, here comes the F word
The last time you bought an expensive pair of shoes thinking you have made a smart decision, think again. If you have become a staunch supporter of a political leader recently, you might have been nudged to do so. If you are getting a craving to run away into the mountains, go through your activity page on Facebook and scroll through the history. Chances are high that you might have liked or read some article with the title which is something like “Five getaways to beat the summer heat”. Facebook knows you better than you yourself. It makes sense of activities of our day to day lives. The activities which we don’t even remember, which we don’t even care about, and uses that information to manufacture want’s from thin air.
Life in 1’s and 0’s
Our opinions, beliefs, desires are shaped by our day to day experiences. If I am a hard core liberal, it’s not because I was born with that ideology. It’s because of the many experiences that I came face to face with throughout my life. Until now, these experiences were real life and no one could create or tailor them for their own benefits. Our own intelligence made sense of the real life experiences and determined our opinions. But now these experiences are becoming more and more virtual as we spend hours scrolling down the Facebook feed. And unlike real life, these experiences can be manufactured with a snap of the fingers. So if you think Thanos was evil, Facebook is far ahead. The impact of such unregulated influence is massive. Modern democracies are already treading treacherous waters as the ideologies of its citizens can be steered to favor a particular political candidate (heard of Cambridge Analytica?) Biases and hatred are rearing their ugly heads through Facebook as it gives the comfort of social validation to our inner daemons. People are becoming intolerant to ideas that would oppose their beliefs because they have been fed with information that validates their way of life. With each social media like, comment or share, we are getting trapped in the echo chambers of our own biases. Our future is increasingly getting restricted by our past. Facebook knows our past which it is continuously mining to create our future.
A virtual perfect world? No, thanks!
The world we are living in currently is in a state of transformation. The boundary lines that differentiates virtual from the real world are becoming hazy. We are in a way uploading our lives into the virtual world. In future it might even be possible to create our other self in a virtual world where we would interact with other virtual people like we do in reality. Perhaps our quest to create an efficient world might ultimately lead us to re-create our own selves. After all the inefficiencies and imperfections lie within ourselves and not in the world outside of us. So if you want to be a master of your own destiny, you need to shut the Facebook up!