There is no denying that we are living online. And we are just about waking up to its fallout in our lives. The loneliness, the attack on privacy, the temptation and the habit of instant gratification. It’s all there. Ashesh Mukherjee, McGill University Associate Professor of Marketing, wrote one of the early insights into five noticeable trends that are shaping our lives – “too much temptation, too much information, too much customization, too many comparisons and too little privacy.” These costs come in two categories – commercial costs we pay as consumers in the form of overspending for instant gratification with very little actual value and social costs we are paying as individuals in terms of exposure to unverified opinions, fake news and increasing loss of privacy which will further erode as we integrate our lives with IOT devices.
One key problem for us, individuals – as the ability to do deep work becomes a central requirement to stay relevant “Constantly switching between phones, tablets, laptops and wearables could reduce our attention span and ability to focus on extended tasks.”
The value that the always on and free Internet brings to the table is undeniable but they come with costs that we mostly overlooked to never figured the extent. “You are the product” seemed a bit farfetched till CA Facebook type of scandals started breaking. There are other major risks, much of it around the way we search and find answers –
“Memories can be biased by the speed with which search results are served up…the quicker search results are delivered, the more knowledgeable people think they are about the topics in question.” As we become more and more dependent in Internet for information we are more exposed to manipulation and fake information.
As the situation becomes clearer we need to respond to the growing web of vulnerable living. You need to create “structural barriers” or ‘moats‘ against the particularly addictive areas of the net – gaming, shopping and pornography. Usage monitoring softwares can help manage where and how much time you spend online.
To deal with choice paralysis Ashesh recommends you go for ‘good enough’ choices, delegate decisions to experts (like travel agents) and use product filtering tools.
To avoid echo chambers seek our contrasting opinions. Quora “hot-button questions” are a good place to start.
The invasion of privacy, a lot of our information we are willingly sharing through use of GPS, constant posting of geo tagged photos and posts. Face book is already accused of activating the microphone to listen into your environment – and you are willingly setting up devices like Alexa to do exactly that without thinking of possible consequences. Understanding the repercussions and then acting on protecting your privacy has become a key requirement for individuals.
Occasional Internet Detox could be a good way to start reclaiming our real lives from the all pervasive nature of our online lives. This also gives rise to great opportunities for entrepreneurs.
How can we build ideas and forums that help civilization cope with ever loss of control of our own lives?
Ashesh Mukherjee discusses “The Internet Trap” https://bit.ly/2QNzrOq