Tag Archives: social-media

How Social Media misuses Behaviour Modification techniques

I’ve just read an article that is so important, I’m posting about it here and on Medium. The article is entitled:

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the bit about the writer being a magician that caught my attention, it was the label of ‘Google Design Ethicist’ that made me start reading. Having just learned how Google invades our privacy, I was primed to be interested.

Almost immediately, I recognized the term ‘intermittent rewards’ as one of the  ‘behaviour mod[ification]’ techniques I’d studied at university. The course was Behavioural Sciences, and back then I’d wanted to become a psychologist.

In a nutshell, behaviour mod. started out as a therapy for:

Inducing positive change in an individual’s behavior through such techniques as positive and negative reinforcement, or punishment for poor behavior. This therapy method is based off of the experiments by B.F. Skinner and his theory of operant conditioning.

https://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/behavior-modification/

My interest in psychology was sidelined by my introduction to computers, so I never ‘used’ my studies for anything, but apparently industry had. Intermittent rewards are used to make people addicted to all sorts of things, including slot machines and…social media. When you see people obsessively checking their phones, or computers, for messages, emails, or ‘Likes’ on social media platforms like Facebook, it’s because they’ve been conditioned to do so by the technique of intermittent rewards.

You can see exactly how intermittent rewards work on social media by reading the article:

https://journal.thriveglobal.com/how-technology-hijacks-peoples-minds-from-a-magician-and-google-s-design-ethicist-56d62ef5edf3

We’ve been turned into Pavlov’s Dogs by ‘social engineers’ who either never question the ethics of what they’re doing, or simply don’t care. The only way to turn social media into something that benefits us is to:

a) become aware of how we’re being manipulated and

b) kick up such a stink that companies benefiting from this manipulation are forced to change, or go under.

I’m so angry, I’d be happy to see them all crash and burn.

Meeks

 


#Wordpress vs #Facebook?

I spent five minutes on Facebook this morning, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

I commented on a couple of family posts and liked a couple of Hugh Howey’s posts, but I still couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I also liked posts by some of my friends, most of whom are on Facebook, yet it didn’t feel like a genuine interaction. That only seems to happen on our respective websites and blogs.

I know there are special interest groups on Facebook – like Indies Unlimited – that should be of interest to me, but I am so uncomfortable on Facebook that I’m never there long enough to interact with them.

I don’t know why I am so viscerally ill at ease on Facebook, but I would like to find out, so forgive me if this post turns into a form of digital navel gazing.

Okay, starting with the factual, the following graphic is a side-by-side view of my WordPress and Facebook pages. WordPress is on the left, Facebook is on the right:

wp-vs-fb-screenshot

What strikes you first when you compare these two pages?

If you’re anything like me, your first impression of WordPress will be that it’s visually restful. Your eye is drawn to centre stage for the main event while the ancillary functions stay modestly in the wings.

I’m no graphic designer but I have worked with images most of my life, and to me, the WordPress layout design is:

  • easy to read
  • easy to navigate
  • and uncluttered

By contrast, as soon as I glance across at the Facebook page, my eyes start to spin. Everywhere I look, the realestate of the page is packed with information, all of it trying to get my attention in some way. I can actually feel my body tense up as my brain tries to sort the clutter into something I can work with.

And before you think I’m a neat freak…I’m not. I love the elegant minimalism of traditional Japanese interior design, but I loath the sterile feel of contemporary interior design.

My idea of warm and cosy is this:

acf-homepage-mockup

In case you’re wondering, this is a mockup of the website I was thinking of creating about two years ago. I gave up on the idea for a number of reasons, the main one being that moving ‘house’ would have meant losing most of the visibility I had gained on WordPress.com. I’d rather have a simple blog that everyone can find than a snazzy website that people would have to find all over again.

Anyway…the background photo is of my actual loungeroom and illustrates the kind of clutter I love – warm, cosy, intimate.

[Slight graphic correction: the walls are not dark brown as shown in the photo; they are actually a warm, olive green]

To me, Facebook is not intimate at all. It’s like walking into a barn filled with strangers having a party. There’s no room to dance or do things so everyone stands around, drinks in hand, shouting to be heard over the high decibel background noise. And even when I find a group of people I actually know, I don’t feel as if we can have a deep and meaningful conversation because you can’t do deep and meaningful while shouting at the top of your lungs.

By contrast, all of my interactions on WordPress feel like an intimate dinner party, regardless of who’s hosting the meal.

And right there, I think I have my answer. I am who I am, and I take myself wherever I go, even online.

I’m not a typical introvert though. I’m not shy. I can stand up in front of a class and give a lecture without the slightest twinge of discomfort, but I simply can’t do big, loud parties. Never have, never will. I don’t even understand why other people enjoy them so much. It’s as if I’m missing the big party gene, and when I am forced to attend one, you will generally find me in the kitchen – if there is one – or standing in a corner somewhere, bored out of my brain.

In the real world, my preferred form of social interaction is dinner with close friends. While we eat, we do catch up on the minutiae of life, but once coffee and dessert arrive, the conversation inevitably turns to issues – political, ethical, philosophical, universal – and I’m like a pig in the proverbial. My brain is on fire, and I am totally in the moment. I could stay up all night because we’re all firing off each other. It’s wonderful.

In the digital world, I frequently have dinner at Pinky’s house. Pinky runs a salon where debate is the dessert served up with coffee. Or I might pop in to the Passive Guy to catch up with the latest issues in publishing. And then there’s dancing and trips to the Museum of Modern Art with Candy, or afternoon tea with EllaDee. Anne invites me in for an afternoon of botanical drawing, while David Prosser has me in stitches with his sly-yet-gentle humour.

Take a look at the people in the sidebar of this post. They are all my friends, not because we’ve friended each other, but because we’ve shared moments of mutual understanding. They are all kindred spirits in one way or another, and WordPress [for all its faults] makes our intimate communities possible.

Thanks WordPress, and sorry Facebook but this square peg will never find a home on your pages.

-hugs-

Meeks


Blogging – as a filter for community

friend filter

I’ve known that blogging was a way of making friends for a long time. What I didn’t know was the mechanism by which it happened. Now I do, and Renard Moreau is the blogger who triggered my little epiphany.

Quite simply, Renard asked ‘Have you been following too many blogs?’ But the question goes deeper than mere follows, it asks how many blogs any one person can reasonably interact with instead of just following.

Now I know that I have only about 500 – 600? followers all up, including both my blog and FB-Twit, yet even with such a relatively small number, I struggle to visit a 10th of those people in a month!

A friend of mine [who shall remain nameless] works his butt off every day, answering emails, replying to comments and tweets, and generally interacting with the hundreds of people he follows.  But what of the people with tens of thousands of followers? Surely it’s not possible to interact with all of them? Yet how do we choose who we do interact with?

The answer, I believe, is that we unconsciously filter out 99.99% of the people we meet – either face to face or online – on the basis of ‘interest’.

For example, I’m interested in a fairly eclectic range of things, so that diversity is reflected in my posts. They dangle in the www, offering a certain type of ‘bait’ to the metaphorical fish that pass by. Those that like a particular type of bait will come to nibble. Those that don’t will ignore it, and me. Thus we have our first visitors.

But what makes those visitors come again?

I used to think the process was all down to luck, but now I think we are all subconsciously looking for others like ourselves, so when we bump into someone who may be like ourselves we stick around to find out. How we find out goes something like this:

– I stumble on a post I like, and follow the blogger who wrote it. If I really like that post I’ll comment. This is first contact.

– If that blogger keeps publishing posts that grab my attention, I’ll start to look out for their name. This is acquaintance.

– If that blogger stops publishing posts that grab my attention, the thin connection between us will fade away.

– If that blogger interacts with me in some positive way the connection between us will strengthen.

– If we discover that we have other interests in common, we may become regulars on each others blogs. Whilst we’re there, we may meet yet more bloggers who are similar to ourselves.

– In time, we discover that we have a small community going on. At the heart of that community are the friends we visit all the time. These are the bloggers we help without a moment’s thought. These are the bloggers we miss when they stop coming. These are our friends.

Radiating out from this core are

– the friends of friends who may become good friends in the future,

– regulars who may become good friends,

– acquaintances who may become regulars,

– and ‘blow ins’ who stumble in by accident and leave by design.

And that explains the odd graphic at the top of this post. We bump into each other almost by chance but stick through shared interests.

Apologies if this process was already crystal clear to everyone else. It all seems so obvious now, yet I really didn’t put it all together until about an hour ago.

-hugs-

Meeks


The case against digital anonymity

Indies Unlimited has just posted my article – Anonymity – the dark side of social media. In it I explore the darker aspects of the social media explosion, and the blurring of the boundaries between the digital world and the real one.

If you’re interested, you can read the full article here :

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2014/04/24/anonymity-the-dark-side-of-social-media/#comments

As always, I’d love to get your feedback. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Social Media Part 2 – Have Fun

http://kriswrites.com/2014/02/26/the-business-rusch-social-media-part-2-or-discoverability-part-10-continued/

This post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and the comment by The Passive Guy, are like a ‘Get Out of Jail’ card for my guilty conscience. I have fun on my blog, but I don’t have fun on Twitter or Facebook, so I don’t go to those ‘parties’. Now I don’t have to feel bad about being so anti-social.

The truth is, I love having meaningful conversations with people, and I’d walk over hot coals for my friends, but I’m more hermit than social butterfly. And to mix my metaphors even more, this leopard can’t change her spots. Now I can just be me, guilt free. 😀

Have a great weekend.

Meeks


I’ve just had a ‘duh’ moment.

You know how sometimes your left hand doesn’t seem to know what your right hand is doing? And then something happens, and you go ‘Duh, I have two hands, why don’t I use them?’

Well, I’ve just had one of those moment, and it has to do with marketing.

I discovered I had two hands when I read this post by Catherine Caffeinated, and realised that social media is just word of mouth on a grand scale.

Now that simple concept may be obvious to you, but I it wasn’t obvious to me. I saw word of mouth as the only real way of achieving success, yes, but I dismissed social media as nothing but advertising.

Not all social media, of course. I love my blog, so it doesn’t count as advertising, but Twitter? Facebook? Goodreads? The truth is I don’t love those media.  Why should I waste valuable writing time on something that is just <<cue evil music>> advertising? Especially when it doesn’t seem to work anyway…

I doubt my ‘duh’ moment will increase my presence on either Twitter or Facebook, however it will increase the time I spend on Goodreads. Why? Because I love talking about books with people who share my passions. The only thing that has kept me away from Goodreads in the past has been my dislike of the user interface. It really is horribly clunky.

So there you have it – my personal moment of revelation. If you’ve been like me, and avoiding social media like an STD, please read this eye-opening article.

Happy Monday!

Meeks


Why do you blog? No, really!

Apologies for the ‘me,me’ tone of this post but I feel I have to expose something of myself before I can ask you to comment with honesty.  So here goes.

I started blogging because I felt I had to. Pure and simple. Every marketing how-to I read said that creating a blog was the first step in developing an online presence that would help sell the book I had yet to finish.  So I signed up with WordPress, chose a theme that looked ok and then I sat there, staring at a blank ‘Add New Post’ screen. I knew how to write a post but I had no idea what to write about.

The idea of just posting whatever I was passionate about evolved out of my certainty that no-one would ever read what I wrote. However as people started to find me [in dribs and drabs] my motivation began to change. I started looking forward to logging in each morning – just in case someone out there had stumbled onto my blog while I was sleeping. Like someone addicted to gambling, every time someone did view my blog the addiction was reinforced and the days on which no-one came did not deter me. I continued telling the world what was on my mind because each post was a way of saying ‘Hey! I’m someone and I’m here’.

You all know the feeling, that buzz you get when you check your stats or notice that you have comments. But what is that good feeling?

I know that for me that good feeling is part ego-stroking and part joy at not being alone. I’ve always been a fairly self-sufficient person. I have a small circle of very close friends and family. They have been with me since forever and they are as important to me as breathing but I’m also quite comfortable just being on my own, which is probably a good thing as writing fiction is a pretty solitary occupation. Nonetheless even hermits need human contact sometimes.

Before I stopped thinking of my writing as some kind of  ‘hobby’ that no-one else would ever be interested in I used to get my social contact hit from the people I met while playing mmo’s [online games]. In fact I still chat to a few gamers I met while playing World of Warcraft but after I left WoW I found new online friends much harder to find and my social contacts dwindled to a few stalwart friends.

And then the blogging miracle happened. I met people, nice people, funny people, kind people, people who cared about many of the same things that I cared about. I met kindred spirits and suddenly blogging was no longer just about ‘marketing’  or having my ego stroked, it was and is, about connecting with people. In short, it’s about making friends.

I’m still passionate about writing and bushfire survival and climate change and good food and wonderful music and politics and…  Ahem, you get the picture. I’m still passionate about all the old things that define who I am and I still get an ego buzz when my stats spike for some unaccountable reason but now I also have something more, I have friends.

So now I would love to know if I’m alone in this or if other people feel the same way that I do. Have I finally ‘got’ what social media is all about? I know that every blogger is different and unique and writes for different reasons but do we all have common themes that are somehow universal?

If you feel like sharing then I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

-hugs to all-

Meeks


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