THE BLOG

Your Social Life Commercialised: Who Profits?

16/04/2015 16:17 BST | Updated 15/06/2015 10:59 BST

Social media impacts everything we see in the Western world; from the way we shop to how we meet potential dates. There is no longer a divide between online and offline. You can order your grocery shopping online, and if you can't be bothered to cook you can get food delivered; don't want to clean your house, there is an app for that, 'virtual maid' - even sex is for sale via Grindr and Tindr. Every move we make on these apps or websites is tracked by the companies who made them. The transaction is no longer just our money; it's our data.

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Don't get me wrong - technology is amazing. Like many, I use the Internet, my phone, and social media every day, but I am really worried about the intention of companies like Facebook and Google, who stand behind the innocent image of 'connecting everybody' while making billions through advertising, as well as being responsible for digital piracy on a massive scale. They also own all the content, all the posts, all those baby photos; they own everything you post into that network. Now we are seeing the introduction of Virtual Reality in social media, meaning you could be not only presenting yourself as just a profile picture and a small bio, but as a person, a digital avatar; and the companies that give you the access to this alternative better-than-real-life digital world will technically own your digital soul. This subsequently creates a modern digital slavery, with a brand new master.

Pushing this theme to the extreme, Future Artists have produced online drama Portal to paint a picture of a world where people are desperate to escape their normal lives and instead exist in a virtual reality and live out their wildest fantasies. This isn't just science fiction; extreme merging of virtual reality and social media is about to become very real with the launch of Oculus Rift, which was recently purchased by Facebook for $2billion!

It's scary to think how our lives are becoming more and more attached to the 'virtual' instead of the 'real'. Mark Zuckerberg recently posted on Facebook, "Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting with a doctor face-to-face--just by putting on goggles in your home." He seems to portray this as a positive and yet many critics of social media are already pointing out the lack of 'real' communication we share with others. With text messaging, Facebook messaging and Whatsapping taking place over genuine human contact, how do you feel about the future of technology and the state of society for our future generations?

Most of us are addicted to something, whether it be to junk food or to health and fitness, both fuelled by a billion dollar advertising industry. And then we have the digital addiction where we have paid the price to be connected to our communities via apps and websites where we must 'like' and 'post' to stay connected. We are addicted to being popular, the need to be wanted, to be part of something and not missing out. Social media and the businesses behind them know all this only too well. We have a natural need to connect as humans and this, which was once free, is now being sold to us at a price higher than we realise.

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