I’d like to share today something a bit different than the usual technical stuff. While at Dell Technologies World, I had a really interesting and meaningful conversation with Konstanze Alex, Head of Influencer Relations at Dell Technologies, who is also behind the fantastic #DellLuminaries community / project.
The Impact of Social Media and AI
We were somehow discussing about how social media is so much impactful of our daily lives, and how anything related to AI should be somehow vetted to avoid any sort of invisible bias. After all, AI is written by humans and we may tend to include (wilfully or not) our own biases and tendencies to discrimination in code. This could lead to disastrous effects to our societies, by further increasing divides of all sorts that we should instead strive to gap and close.
One of the points we talked about was how much certain social media have become echo chambers where people are cut off from the diversity of opinions just because algorithms are trying to maintain us within our comfortable zones. It’s not that the algorithms are the real cause. After all, these were written by humans and implemented by humans, based on whatever strategy the given social media company has.
The more our society will take down the route of implementing AI in many solutions, the more we need to be cautious about the choices we make. I personally believe that it is such a serious matter that people who work with AI should almost have a license. The impact of AI will be fundamental to our societies, not just because of the disruption it will cause to jobs as we know them today, but also and primarily because of its societal impact. A malicious use of AI could end up manipulating large chunks of human societies and we are already somehow into this dystopia, since malignant individuals were able to leverage the weaknesses of social platforms to create divides that we have rarely seen.
Take Social Media With a Grain Of Salt
Another point that we touched is how much artificial can social media sometimes be. This is especially true of Instagram, a platform that I really much like since it allows me to share parts of my life in pictures, without having to go through the heaps of insanities that people post on Facebook (a platform that I’ve left, by the way).
Instagram is a double-edged sword. It shows beautiful things, but it does only that, usually. We share there our happy memories or the most interesting parts of our lives. You’ll hardly see someone share their grief, pain, sadness, insecurities there. All you see is success, happy people, smiles, beaches, great food, restaurants, travelling etc. Even if you look on my stream, you’ll hardly see something sad.
Where I want to go here is that you should not let what you see on Instagram or other social media take you down. Even if it’s on LinkedIn or on Twitter, people will be eager to share their achievements, their successes, their great lifestyle.
If you look again at my Instagram, you’ll see me traveling over the world. You’ll think that I’m a lucky man. And indeed I am. But you do not see the tiredness, the exhaustion of being jet-lagged, the body having trouble to adapt to different time zones. You do not see my discomfort and fear of flying, you do not see the panic attacks that can sometimes happen to me.
We’re brave to show what makes us strong, but we’re concealing deep what gets us worried. You see the content for TECHunplugged, the articles, the writings, the podcast content, but you don’t see the doubts that assail me at times. You may look at someone successful, but that « successful » person you look at may feel itself insecure, prone to impostor syndrome, ever doubtful of its abilities. That’s who I am.
Talk To Someone Close
Take social media, LinkedIn and all this stuff with a grain of salt. It takes courage and abnegation to get along on our journeys. Not all that shines is gold. Not all you see on social media is ideal. If you see a beautiful photo of San Francisco, you’re not seeing the misery of the downtown. It’s there and it’s real. It’s just concealed. The same goes about our darker side: our fears, grief, worries… all of that is concealed; you will not see that on your successful friend’s Instagram feed.
If yourself are feeling down or depressed, try to think that everybody you know may be going through a hard time or through their own battles. Perhaps that can ease it up for you to know that others are struggling too, in a way or another. It’s not that you have to subdue your feelings because of other; it’s more about acknowledging that it’s not a black and white world of happy people vs unhappy people.
In any case, if you are not feeling well, please talk to someone close. Sometimes it does wonders. And that’s from someone who has his own struggles despite what the embellished -and curated- social media feeds will show you. Also, one thing that has helped me (and helps immensely still) is the Calm application (works on iPhone and Android).
Peace upon you, dear anonymous reader. You’re not alone – we have the sun and the stars to keep dreaming!