Auto-play ticks through videos, seamlessly crafting a playlist to keep us captivated for hours on end. Netflix automatically starts the next episode for us, so that we barely notice the cycle of twenty episodes we’ve got through in one day. All the while, we’re captivated, yet disinterested. Glazed eyes stare, trying to find meaning or feeling in the screen.
Algorithms aren’t people, they don’t know people. Even The Social Dilemma would like you to believe that behind the algorithm is a group of human minds when, in reality, it’s more like a string of pieces of data each part of which is a fragment of you. The clicks you make, the websites you visit, the time you spend on specific platforms, the creators you support.
Of course, there are human minds as well as algorithms monitoring data, managing it and storing it, adapting advertising to target your concept of value. But this targeting doesn’t simply target what we need, or even what we want. Instead, we are targeted with things we didn’t know we could want. Advertisements anticipate our wants and, in many ways, we are shaped by the digital content which we see and interact with on a daily basis.
For some of us, it’s about minimising the time we spend consuming digital content, for others of us it’s about changing the type of content we consume. But, how do we do that?
How many of us now go through our daily digital lives without thinking of the clicks which we’re making? Perhaps if each of us lived like data analysts for a day, we would take more time to consider our clicks and our consumption. The issue is that digital spheres, social media, entertainment platforms, all make our choices invisible to us. After all, watching the next episode in a Netflix series takes no clicks, but actively stopping watching involves the choice to click away from the show.
It’s about being present, checking in with yourself while consuming digital content. We can’t consider every single click we make, but if we can pause to consider how we feel while consuming digital content then perhaps we can become more mindful about the type, and quantity, of digital content which we consume.
What area of your digital consumption do you hope to minimise?
Featured image: Domenico Loia via Unsplash.