📖 The Internet Can Make Us Feel Awful. It Doesn't Have to Be That Way.

Eli Pariser’s article on the lack of dignity we experience online gave me a lot to think about:

Over decades in the field, Hicks saw a repeating pattern: conflicts came about when people felt they were being disrespected and treated as worthless. “We long to look good in the eyes of others, to feel good about ourselves, to be worthy of others’ care and attention,” Hicks writes. When people are treated as if we don’t matter or aren’t due respect, we become vindictive, tribalistic and vengeful. “Research suggests that we are just as programmed to sense a threat to our dignity as we are to a physical threat,” Hicks writes. “Neuroscientists have found that a psychological injury such as being excluded stimulates the same part of the brain as a physical wound.”

The gut-punch sentence, for me, is this one:

Our ability to make choices that really reflect our values is subsumed by nudges to do more of what platforms want.

I know the concept of “nudging” is really popular right now. But I still think it’s really creepy, for the simple reason that platforms make it impossible to answer one simple, essential question: Whose values are we being nudged towards? Technology is not neutral, and all platforms want more of us, no matter how they dress it up.

Rian van der Merwe Product manager • Designer • Speaker