I am not a competent authority on using social media. I am no gamer. Indeed I haven’t played a computer game in my life. Yet I do worry as a journalist about the effect of social media on our lives. How it created a super rich elite, how people’s personal data can be manipulated for huge financial gain, how ” fake news” can spread in an instant and how democracy can be destroyed by dark forces on line.
This is a remarkable, well written first book. Its author, Rory Wilmer, is an insider who has made money from digital marketing and advertising for big companies. As he says himself: “I have got to a moral crossroads within myself… I too, have been part of – making a living and a career on the back of surveillance capitalism, data mining and the exploitation of people’s addiction to social media”.
He points out how we, the avid consumers of social media, who never read the terms and conditions of the websites we sign up to – submit to exploitation by allowing companies to make huge profits by “leeching your data and selling it to the highest bidder”. They do this by using clauses allowing them to change the terms and conditions without” even informing you of why and how.”
How an atheist takes a Biblical script
The book is cleverly constructed taking, as an atheist, a Biblical script of the Seven Deadly Sins and dividing the faults of social media between them.
His chapter on lust – reveals the scale of a male dominated internet – and how pornography and sexual titualation. is rife. Put one search for girls on Instagram – and you will find 8 million images of girls. Put one for boys – and you get 2 million images. Everyday 95 million images are loaded onto Instagram – that is 4 million an hour.
He cites Twitter as a site that allows pornography and sexual exploitation of children and is scathing of some of activities of dating sites in protecting data.
His gluttony chapter covers everything from celebrity chefs, promoting diets to wanting the perfect body. His chapter on greed looks at our appetite for viral blogs and clicks while sloth looks at our laziness in discerning the truth -leaving us to believe fake news and be prey to ideas that the earth is still flat and covidiocy. It also deals with sinister Q-Anon movement and interference in elections, topically including Russia.
Making money out of wrath
This book challenges us to look behind what we click and also not to fall for provocations. The chapter on wrath looks at trolls and the nasty Incels movement – the misogynist white supremacists who use the internet to rage that they have not been laid by women and act out fantasies on the internet of raping and dominating women.
This is a thought provoking book. There is of course another side of the internet – its virtues in bringing people together, making people aware, revealing the truth about disastrous situations like the current invasion of the Ukraine and allowing ordinary people the freedom to develop their own ideas and publish them without having to get approval from officialdom. The author is promising a sequel- the seven virtues of social media. I await this with interest.
Social Media & The Seven Deadly Sins by Rory Wilmer. Available from Amazon £14.99 hardback, £8.99 paperback and free with Kindle Unlimited
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