CEO, Edgewise Energy
The Internet knows what you are doing — do you?
Mass hysteria has spread after the recent revelations that Cambridge Analytica improperly collected and distributed user data from Facebook, although most Facebook users have no idea why they are upset other than knowing that their privacy may have been invaded and used for a purpose that may be inappropriate. Most Americans do know that they are annoyed at Facebook about something and they are voicing their displeasure by ranting — you guessed it — on Facebook. But let’s be honest; Facebook isn’t going anywhere, and we all know that the Internet has been tracking our activity and habits for as long as there has been an Internet. It’s just getting better at it.
The Zuckerberg miniseries on CSPAN that covered what amounted to a speed networking event between Facebook’s founder and Congress put on display the general lack of understanding our elected representatives have when it comes to technology and data analytics. It is hard to imagine that most Americans are informed to a significantly greater degree than the Congressional tech neophytes that represent them.
The fact is, Americans are addicted to social media. They may not realize it, or if they do, they may not like it, but social media has become their primary source for perspective and interaction with the broader world around them. Perhaps worrying about what Facebook knows about us is missing the point. Maybe we should be giving more attention to what we are doing on Facebook. Protecting our privacy is important, but it is worth considering that being aware of what influences our perspective is more important.
Most American adults have come around to giving some degree of attention to what they are putting into their bodies. Some even track their macronutrient intake to the gram. But how many of us are tracking our information intake? Americans of all ages are subject to an environment that makes us vulnerable to sensory and information overload, with most of us allowing the content on our pocket devices to dictate how we view the world.
It is understandable to be angry with Facebook for being so damn good at monitoring our digital “consumption,” but we should be just as disappointed in ourselves for being terrible at evaluating the content we consume. If we want to have a healthy relationship with the internet, it’s time to become more mindful of our cognitive nutrition — the quality of digital “food” we ingest.