Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cost of social media

I have and still do a great deal of backpacking. Not the kind where you travel on buses and sleep in hostels but the kind where you walk, climb and live in forests, mountains and be as remote as a person can get. Due to these activities I know what it takes to pack all your needs for weeks at a time into a single pack. I know that one litre of fuel will cook two meals a day for two weeks at the most, depending on altitude. When I learned that a single internet search uses the equivalent energy as boiling two cups of water my brain started to spin concerning the topic of externalities of cost.

Externalities of cost deals with the hidden impacts of the economy, factory farms were my first introduction to this issue back in 2005 with this cartoon:

From then on I began to look at the connections to how we live and the impacts of those actions. One such item was the invention of the remote control, as I have mentioned in a previous posting. As time has gone by I have noticed the strong desire/pressure to be connected, which is to have some sort of technology turned on so that you can be a part of the world. The impact of all these devices is that we are using more energy than ever before to achieve similar results.

The reality of life remains that the most important communication style is in person. The comical reality is that we waste more energy on the less important technological connections. Factor in the wasteful use of energy to keep all these devices operating. Each internet search uses enough energy to boil two cups of water, how many internet searches does the average person make a day? To guess I would say enough to fill the average hot water tank. For all these devices to work we must constantly consume which is an oxymoron in the face of science which tells us to conserve. 

As you may have guesses I am not a strong believer in social media . I see the use of such devices being overhyped. Moreover, I see those that are addicted to these devices as being brainwashed and weak minded. These people have thwarted their own personal freedom without even knowing it. Even worse is that they are wasting more energy than ever before. We were sold these devices on the platform of convenience and emergency services. Those platforms still hold true but there is a large snake oil sales pitch held within those platforms. “A standardized machine/technology degrades the craftsman more and more to a person who fulfills a purely repetitive routine.[1]

The externality of social media has degraded information sharing to the point where we must sift through a mountain of garbage to find the slightest of wisdom. Add to this the judgemental mindset that has evolved which states that a person who is not connected is out of touch.  Truly, the medium is the message and we are losing the message under a pile of useless information being broadcast in social media.

[1] Laski, Harold J. The Dangers of Obedience. Harper & Row, 1930. Pg. 26.

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