Music by Kajiki
Three decades ago the British evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar proposed that your social life has a biological limit: 150 people.
We can maintain much larger networks, but only by compromising quality.
But online life is all about maximizing the quantity of connections without caring about their quality.
Before online tools, we talked less frequently, and with fewer people.
The average person had a handful of conversations a day, and only occasionally talked to a large group (for example at a wedding, a business meeting, or a conference).
Online media allows us to speak to millions.
This is because Google, Facebook, Twitter, are really data companies: They suck up information when people search, post, click, and reply, and use that information to sell targeted advertising.
So encouraging as many people as possible to “speak” online as much as possible means they make as much money as possible.
Adrienne LaFrance calls this “ megascale” – billions of people using the service constantly.
The quality of material being produced is irrelevant.
Lots and lots, even if lots and lots of garbage.
The problem here is that some of the garbage is very dangerous: conspiracy theories, hate, and even violence: child and sex abuse, murder and suicide.
To combat this Facebook employ an army of content moderators: (that job is so terrible that it causes mental and emotional trauma)
(They are also trying AI but it isn’t actually intelligent enough to work effectively.)
Wouldn’t it just be better if fewer people posted less stuff, less frequently, and if smaller audiences saw it?
What if, for example, you could post to Facebook only once a day, or week, or month?
Or only to a certain number of people?
Or what if, after an hour or a day or 500 views, the post disappeared?
This would be technically trivial to implement, though it would be a big change so many people would object:
Technology companies would surely fight this because they would make less money.
Private citizens would bristle at new and unfamiliar limitations.
But the alternative, living amid the ever-rising waste spewed by megascale, is unsustainable.
If megascale is the problem, downscale has to be the solution, somehow.
Just imagine how much quieter it would be online if it weren’t so loud…..
Hey Listeners what do you think?
1.Do you think the problem of social media is because of “megascale”- too many people posting too much too often? What about you – do you post too much too often?
2.And do you think limiting how much we can post would help with this problem?