Consume or Be Consumed

My Brother and I Haven't Watched a Movie in a Long Time

Since my parents went on a small trip over the weekend, my brother and I decided to watch a movie on a Saturday night.

We decided to watch a documentary, The Social Dilemma, instead.

The basic gist of it was that with social media tracking every single action using tools such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, social companies can provide content that each individual wants, disregarding the fact if the news is true or not.

Fake news spreads more exponentially compared to what happens in the real world. We have political sides becoming more polarized due to the spread of misinformation and curated content.

As a result, there doesn't seem to exist a "sole truth" within the platforms of social media.

It leads to higher depression among younger teens and more extreme violence compared to decades before. With more influencers than ever, more voices will be projected and companies can have the power to change the perspective of the world.

Of course, there needs to be change, especially since some say that there is a kind of "disinformation-for-profit business model".

This documentary fails to offer more diverse perspectives and present more industry arguments, but then their main point seems to come across very well.

Social media has changed many parts of the world for the better, but solving an issue can create a new and increasing number of problems.

After watching this documentary, it constantly reminded me about a book summary I read about A Brave New World.

The book takes place in a world where characters do everything they can to avoid facing the truth about their situations.

It presents a dystopia in which the state controls the behaviors and actions of its people to preserve its stability and power.

This is different compared to the book, 1984, in which the constant control is maintained by surveillance, undercover police, and consequential torture. Power in Brave New World, however, is maintained through technological interventions that start before birth and last until death. This changes the perspectives and desires of what individuals crave.

A common drug is used in society throughout A Brave New World is known as Soma, which replaces people's thoughts with happy hallucinations.

In A Brave New World, individuality is forbidden, humans are bred into a caste system where they are formed and grown to function in their roles. As humans are born into an embryo factory and being reprogrammed to their customs and roles, the society "thrives" as people are constantly happy for who they are and unable to expand their perspectives within their bubble. Free thought and the fear of death don't exist.

The higher of the five castes enjoy superior tasks, while the lower ones perform menial roles. Ten Controllers hold all the power in this new world and peace is maintained by conditioning infant minds and by soothing adults with the tranquilizer, Soma. The population is further controlled through scientific methods; marriage is forbidden, and children are not born but produced in an embryo factory.

A real relationship also no longer consists of two people and has only become a big group. This could be seen as an appeal to our society, but we shouldn't forget romantic relationships and emotions in our life.

All forms of entertainment in the book exists to keep the people confined within their limits.

There are more details to the story, but the synopsis seems to have a good overall background of the world we might be living in today. If you want to know more about the plot and details, you can read the book or watch a summary here.

The book ends in bitter when the protagonist character, John, decides to end in suicide.

There doesn't seem to be a clear answer as to why, but throughout the novel, John has argued that it’s better to seek truth, even if it involves suffering, than to accept an easy life of pleasure and happiness.

However, when Mustapha Mond (the controller for World State/Society) grants him the freedom to seek truth through self-sacrifice and suffering, John submits in temptation for pleasure with the rest of society.

This ending might suggest that happiness encouraged by the World State’s Controllers is a more powerful force than the truth John seeks.

The ending may also suggest that there is no truth for John to find. John may fail in his search for truth because the Controllers have made it impossible to avoid the temptation of happiness in the World State. The novel’s ending would suggest that seeking truth has to be a social goal.

Truth can’t be found by isolated individuals.

The book, 1984, seems to be more popular in today's society. However, I think that A Brave New World seems more likely to happen if the world decides to fall under its technology.

In fact, the author of A Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) was George Orwell's teacher.

A typical person wouldn't usually look deep into the world of the internet and become aware of the forms of entertainment we use nowadays.

With the freedom to consume common drugs and adapt to different forms of habits, we can fall and become the product of many companies for the worse.

A Brave New World has always been stuck in my head, because of how much of a possibility it's likely to happen. Many parts of the book relate to what's currently happening right now.

We have to acknowledge and become aware of the fact that society has norms that have not been normal before.

The age of marriage has been increasing over time.

Influencers can monetize their content to consumers.

Processed foods are specifically made by companies to get consumers to purchase more, therefore possibly making consumers addicted and leading to obesity.

Kids are kept engaged by their devices providing content to entertain and subconsciously brainwash/teach.

Social media provides guilt-free pleasure with instant dopamine for us.

Imposter syndrome and constant validation from the media can cause stress, and anxiety to take over

Devices ended boredom for the rest of society. People now eat while watching on their devices.

The devices we have in our hands can now function and think for us, instead of us having to think for ourselves.

Even when we are aware, we still continue to do it

I'm not saying technology is bad for us. Absolutely, so much has changed for the better.

I'm just listing out points on how technology enabled us to change our behaviors.

Besides, we're really just monkeys experimenting on ourselves.

In the past, we've had many problems of scarcity.

Now, we have many problems of abundance.

I've experienced this as well, although being mindful has helped a lot along the way.

As we become more digitized into the Metaverse and Web 3.0, it's only a matter of time before we see these problems become enhanced and/or be provided with more solutions.

So, If there was one takeaway to always remember...

Being conscious and mindful can change a person's perspective on life and anything they consume. The moment you become aware is when you realize that a second life exists, one you can control.

We can always change our way of thinking through the formation of habits and mental models. We can talk about that another day, however.

Stay Classy,

AP