Social media and populism: two sides of the same currency

Octubre 20, 2020

In the economy of attention, the business of selling certainties and control (both illusions) and the traffic of ignorance, find materialization speed in social networks. These, sustained by the human need for certainty, the desire to be catered to, our addiction to polarities and the illusion of ease and control that they provide us, cause the existance of populism either by action, indifference or reaction.

Algorithms -which exclude human bias and nobody seems to care- are fed by data that we permanently give away while skewing what we read, observe and choose. Consequently, our navigation on the networks will have to do with everything that reaffirms our beliefs, wants, desires and intentions as well as with whatever it is they want to sell us, based on the argument of the dogma of belonging, of empathy (which from a biological point of view does not exist), or on some kind of misunderstood solidarity. As a direct result of this we end up being hostages of groups from which most of us, most of the time feel totally alien to.

To recover what we have given away to others, first we must recover our lost trust in Nature in general and human nature in particular. Interestingly enough, by forfeiting it, we seel to control others, we actually attempt to control our environment and by wanting control what we really desire are certainties and since we want certainties, paradoxically we seem to have lost the habit of reflecting. We have lost reflective freedom because we deny it through mistrust. And it is thus, that in this data and information intoxication of which we are both victims and perpetrators we continue to "advance" humanly absent in our present, without distinguishing fiction from reality. And it is also thus that the very humanity that has distinguished us over time is weakening, since what we are generating is increasingly fragile, authoritarian and frivolous human beings whose common denominator lies in their passivity and their desire to be catered to. Having reached this state of affairs, the following question arises: Have we advanced in terms of our freedom? Are we still being able to choose?

From certain point of view you could say yes. It seems that we are choosing what amuses us (a word that comes from the Latin divertere and means "to turn in the opposite direction, to move away, to entertain, to recreate") from conferences to seminars and executive meetings; everything has to be fun. We are constantly exposed to falling to the temptation of superficiality, vanity, certainties and envy, we are constantly at risk of being swallowed by all of them. All the flammable content that is out there through set phrases that have to do with the aforementioned temptations, as well as with the frustrations and resentments that to a greater or lesser extent every human being harbors, generates the breeding ground for populism and the domino effect of reactive polarities.

The vicious circles of the blind who seek to belong without committing, speak of inclusion without including themselves and march for a diversity that is not diverse, provoke a very frequent question from a position that borders between callousness and arrogance. What is happening to the world?, we ask ourselves, without realizing that it is impossible not to be in the world and that it is precisely this position or point of view that provides the necessary conditions for populism to prosper.

There is an urgent need for a look from the realm of Cultural Biology -a scientific foundation intrinsic to the human being that generates autonomous, creative and present individuals- at human understanding in order to be able to build and update new realities so that people can express their talents and virtues through the undisputable dignity of doing.

Curiously, the 21st century, considered by many as the age of knowledge, seems to be transforming into the age of learning. The key for that to happen it is of the essence to learn to live in the question, therefore:

How are we living together to generate what is happening today?

What must we be, do and perceive to stop being the reactive effect of polarities?

What is technology generating if we look at its 360 degrees effects?

What impact does technology have on mental health and human intelligence if we take into account, for example, that in the last 10 years the IQ index fell by 10%?

Perhaps it is time to find the answers.

Why not?

Beatriz López López

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