Technology is not neutral.

Technology is not neutral.
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The internet became commercially available in the late '90s - anyone else have the AOL dial-up sound forever in their head? Just me? - with the scourge of social media not far behind. While that's enough time for an entire generation to grow up entirely in the digital (read: fake) world, it's not a lot of time in the human story. Maybe that's why we're still making excuses for our unrelenting binge on the digital equivalent of cotton candy.

One excuse in particular seems to be quite common: "technology is neutral; it's how you use it that's bad or good." This is unequivocally false and it would be really great if we please stop repeating it now. Technology is not neutral and it was never intended to be. The internet was originally a Department of Defense project invented in the Cold War to spy on Russia - thus, it's full of holes. On purpose. That's why data breaches, hacks, identity theft, fraud, etc., all still happen despite the increasing cyber security measures and trainings at most workplaces and personal computer set ups. These trainings, which are at best pedantic and always patronizing, make it seem like the bad guys are getting more and more sophisticated every second. While it's true that phishing emails don't read like Google Translate's fever dream anymore, it really doesn't take that much hacker skill to find enough personal information on the internet to do real damage.

The internet was created as a tool of warfare, and it's not like they made all these tweaks to it before releasing it to the public. They - the Department of Defense - basically tested it out during the '60s, found that it served its surveillance purposes effectively enough, and packaged it up as "the world at your fingertips" in terms of knowledge and convenience when what's really going on is that the spying continues. It's just that the new target is you and me. Whether this was the plan all along (::dusts off tinfoil hat::) doesn't matter. That's what's happening now. The internet is not neutral and it was never intended to be.

Social media is the same way. Not only is it designed to keep you using it and wasting time that you could be spending in the 3-dimensional world where you belong and where every generation in history but the one that is just now reaching adulthood grew up in, not only is it designed to make you compare your insides to everyone else's outsides all the time, and not only is it true that if the "service" ("staying in touch" with everyone you've ever known 24/7/265) is free, the product is you. It is designed to create echo chambers, pit groups against one another and foment exactly the kind of social upheaval, unrest, discord, and brink-of-collaspe-ness that we are seeing everywhere right now. This is not natural. It is not an accident. And it is not for our good. Social media is not neutral and it was never intended to be. The only people who benefit from everyone being "connected" to everyone else is an empty-but-constant-calorie way are people who would seek mass control over humanity. Hopefully, that's none of you.

Those are just some reasons why technology is not neutral. We'll talk about why even repeating this "mantra" is making things worse in the next post.