Sunday, 29 June 2014

pavlovian response

In the name of science, a popular social media platform conducted a massively multiplayer experiment on unsuspecting users, to see if they could engineer an individual's behaviour through being selective on what updates it spoon-fed from ones constellation of contacts. According to disclosures, which only makes one wonder what might lie beneath and what other mind games we are exposed to—outside of those socially-acceptable forms of manipulation that we deal with, like marketing and politics—several hundred thousand users had a particularly inauspicious week, as only bad news from their friends was filtered to them—while the other half enjoyed a seemingly manic, rollicking good time, at least vicariously.
Certainly, attitudes and emotions are contagious and one ought not to derive all one's stimuli and emotional modelling from the computer—and I do question the scientific rigour of this study as we don't really know what algorithms or protocols were used to gauge the the affective timbre of one's activities. I guess there is no accounting for envy, Schadenfreude or sour-grapes.  If social networks feel that they have stumbled across some new and powerful way of toying with the masses, do you think indoctrination and brain-washing could be that far behind, since one's sphere of acquaintances, no matter how small or reticent do usually have a far greater representational impact? I am feeling more and more suspicious about the headlines are being plied.