Video: The Path to Non Understanding?

February 17, 2023

I try to believe “everything” I read on the Internet. I have learned that software can hallucinate because a Google wizard says so. I understand that Sam Bankman Fried tried to do “good” as he steered his company to business school case study fame.  I embrace the idea that movie stars find synthetic versions of themselves scary. Plus, I really believe the information in “Study: TikTok Increasingly Popular among Kids.” But do we need a study to “prove” what can be observed in a pizza joint, at the gym, or sitting at an interminable traffic light?

Here are some startling findings which are interesting and deeply concerning to me:

  1. From all app categories, children spent the most time on social media daily, averaging 56 mins/day, followed by online video apps (45 mins/day), and gaming (38 mins/day). [That adds up to the same amount of time spent exercising, reading books about nuclear physics, and working on calculations about Hopf fibrations or about two and one half hours per day.]
  2. While children increasingly spent more time on social media and video streaming apps, time on communications apps fell, with time on Zoom dipping by 21 per cent, and Skype by 37 per cent. [Who needs to interact when there are injections of content which can be consumed passively. Will consumers of digital media develop sheep-like characteristics and move away from a yapping Blue Heeler?]
  3. 70 per cent of parents assert that screens and technology are now a distraction from family time, and device use causes weekly or daily arguments in over 49 per cent of households. [Togetherness updated to 2023 norms is essential for a smoothly functioning society of thumbtypers.]

The numbers seem to understate the problem; for example, people of any age can be observed magnetized to their digital devices in these settings:

  1. Standing on line anywhere
  2. Sitting on an exercise machine at 7 am absorbing magnetizing digital content
  3. Attending a Super Bowl party, a bar, or in a lecture hall
  4. Lying on a gurney waiting for a medical procedure
  5. Watching a live performance.

What do the data suggest? A fast track to non comprehension. Why understand when one can watch a video about cutting shuffle dance shapes? Who controls what target sees specific content? Is framing an issue important? What if an entity or an AI routine controls content injection directly into an individual’s brain? Control of content suggests control of certain behaviors in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2023


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