Social media and COVID are in symbiosis.
Something clicked as I listened to the podcast version of the Megyn Kelly episode embedded from YouTube below.
Her primary guest was Tristan Harris, a Silicon Valley player who’s been warning about the manipulative dangers of social media. He’s taken the Stanford classes on “persuasive technology” along with the tech entrepreneurs and knows how it works — what sort of information they can and do capture, what techniques they use to model users, what strategies they deploy when people start to escape their clutches.
As I listened to the challenge posed by social media manipulation, from the addiction of teens all the way to geopolitical problems and a new kind of warfare, one thought kept returning to me: The core of any solution, whether we’re talking for your mental health, for your children’s development, or for the health of the community, is actual human interaction.
Farther down the line of thinking about the universe that I’ve begun on Dust in the Light, I’m going to propose that human souls are drawn toward each other. The closer they are, the more truly they are living in the same universe, and just as quantum particles can become entangled without regard to distance, so can souls. Thus, as we form communities online with people who think like us, we move more and more deeply into a particular way of thinking — literally, a particular world. And what defines that world is the set of ideas toward which we in the community have a tendency.
In flesh and bone life, the people with whom we come into contact share close geographic proximity not typically based on ideological agreement, but because of a wide variety of considerations having to do with life itself. Theologically, we’re living in God’s reality, and our choice of location has to do with our individual interactions with Him. The relevant point for this post is that, through daily interactions, our souls are attracting and being attracted by others who live in different political realities. This keeps us in line with God, as I would frame it, rather than the false gods of our own intellectual creation.
Well, what have we had in the past few years to reduce flesh-and-bone interaction and make a response to social media involving human contact next to impossible? COVID restrictions.
We spend a lot of time arguing about the benefits and drawbacks to our health of various measures the government has been taking in response to the pandemic, but this one is almost never mentioned. Not being able to interact — or even having our interactions impeded by masks — is itself a profound harm, one that makes us easier to manipulate, whether for the profits of tech oligarchs or for Egregores.
Featured image by Uriel SC on Unsplash.