The resemblances in society – corporations.
In today’s society, we are still far away from the grim reality just portrayed. However, in the last decades we have seen an alarmingly increase of means for making it a reality. Considering just the companies and governmental technological capabilities and, especially, their use for influencing the societal trends, and, in some cases, the very fabrique of our society, we can perceive that something is changing. Surely, not every change is a bad change in itself. However, there are some particular characteristics of these changes that cannot avoid to be seen as frightfully on track to bring forth the dystopic scenario described by Huxley in the not-so-far future.
Social media, a potentially extremely useful tool for connecting people from throughout the world and sharing the most diverse opinions, are increasingly developed with the clear objective of creating serotonin-like addiction-inducing systems.
These systems are developed and deployed by a small number of organizations and conglomerations. By their nature, this type systems capable in themselves and with the potential of creating dependency, numbness, misdirection of information, produce an amount of power that is withheld by these companies. With this, we do not want to explicitly accuse anyone of actively manipulating information. However, with an exponentially increase of the amount of power held, now more than ever single groups of people have the possibility of willingly changing the ways of thinking – through more-or-less obvious conditioning and indoctrination – via universally accessible systems.
There’s a few examples that follow this, there’s the recent outrage in which – then president – Donald Trump got banned from social media platforms with the notion of “encouraging violence” after the Capitol building riots. However, this is extremely odd for a corporation to do, especially when there is way worse going on on their respective platform; take the case of the Iranian supreme leader not having his tweets disabled nor being removed from the platform for antisemitism and other insane remarks until he showed signs of wanting to drone strike the same person that got banned from the platforms before.
While odd, there is almost no doubt that this is due to politically-laden incentives behind these companies. There is a theory that describes this perfectly; repressive tolerance by Herbert Marcuse . In this, Herbert Marcuse discusses this political incentive and the pushing of these political aspects by companies. He coins it as the left seeing everything as right as long as it’s in their favor while condemning the right side of the political spectrum with the exact wording on a topic such as liberalist toleration being as followed: “freeing the mind to rationally pursue the truth – was to practice a deliberately selective “liberating tolerance” that both targeted and enacted the repression alluded to in the essay’s paradoxical title. This “liberating tolerance” would involve “the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements” on the right, and the aggressively partisan promotion of speech, groups, and progressive movements on the left”. It is a fair judgement to make that there is a lot more of limiting of free speech going on in the current day time than ever should be done, but that’s not the sole danger, there is more that has happened and undoubtedly, there is more yet to come. However, one thing is clear, whenever it is to steer a political position – whether left or right – it is bad to limit any form of free speech as it’ll bring us closer to dystopian ideologies that might impact us forever and set us back by several steps.
Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.Aldous Huxley
This quote by Huxley is mostly visible when it comes to these social media platforms as the case mentioned beforehand isn’t the only one. If you’ve been active on the internet in the past decade, you’ll undoubtedly have heard about the Facebook scandal in which they sold user data for political purposes and economical purposes. There’s nothing beneficial about this other than money for these corporations, the fact algorithms and AI are being used for things like these; to monitor, to spy, and to sell us – the people – out is preposterous. One might say that they don’t care about their privacy being stolen, but the fact it can be done with such ease by these big tech companies should be alarming to anyone who values their life. This indoctrination process of trying to steer you while betraying all while providing you with a way to get to your dopaminergic systems is a tough realization to swallow.
This realization in itself is particularly dangerous, as we can find a clear correlation between Huxley’s fictional society, ruled by an “intellectual elite” through means of mass manipulation and systems of artificial serotonin(-like) dependency inducing systems, and the nowadays early rise of these companies, formed by highly intelligent and specialized individuals, that withhold a tremendous amount of “invisible” power. This does not imply that those companies are actively using their systems in such away, but the realization of the amount of raw, powerful and worrisome power that hold.