The social media dilemma and its consequences

I watched ‘The Social Dilemma’ a few days ago, the Netflix semi-dramatised documentary exposing the business model behind social media, and what it’s doing to world society. I wasn’t surprised; the social outcomes have been clear for a while. The ‘confirmation bubbles’ to which social media reduces people are a function of the way in … More The social media dilemma and its consequences

How to understand 2020 – the worst year in living memory

It’s fair to say that 2020 has been the worst year in living memory. The world has, in the span of just a few months, been plunged into one of the most widespread and severe crises since the Second World War. Even the Cuba Crisis of 1962, with all its implication of nuclear armageddon, was … More How to understand 2020 – the worst year in living memory

Social media and Covid-19 – what it tells us about human nature

A few weeks ago, before Covid-19 had really hit, my Facebook feed began filling up with Useful Advice on How To Avoid It. Almost all of it was rubbish: urban myths, given credence because they were repeated to the point where they had become ubiquitous. My favourite was the one about keeping the mouth and … More Social media and Covid-19 – what it tells us about human nature

If it’s free, you’re the product – again

As the twenty-first century approaches its third decade I am deeply worried about the nature of how social media is served to us. It didn’t really exist twenty years ago when everybody was worried about the ‘millennium bug’ destroying everything. Today it’s engaged by a really significant chunk of every human alive on the planet, … More If it’s free, you’re the product – again

Why 2016 was a historical trend year – not a one-shot disaster

There was, I suppose, a universal sigh of relief when New Year 2017 ticked over and the world left the Year from Hell. We like our arbitrary calendar dates. Reality seldom conforms. After all, Lemmy Kilmister kicked off the big celebrity die-off that marked 2016 on Boxing Day 2015. A friend of mine suggested that … More Why 2016 was a historical trend year – not a one-shot disaster

Why even non-fiction has to tell a story

It always intrigues me that ‘writing’, to most people, appears to be ‘writing fiction’. Time and again I’ll see stuff on social media pivoting on that idea – ‘writers – what’s your character arc?’, or ‘what’s your latest plot twist’ or whatever. Whereas non-fiction writing is always seen as a secondary product of expertise in … More Why even non-fiction has to tell a story

Big brother is watching us because we asked for it – Huxley style

I have to admit to a certain cynicism about the age of big data – the age of online convenience where we can shop from home, buy stuff with the click of a button, and have it sent to us. Books, among other things. But there’s a down-side. ‘They’ know what you bought – and … More Big brother is watching us because we asked for it – Huxley style