Max Fisher writes on the unintended consequences of social media, from Myanmar to Germany:
I first went to Myanmar in early 2014, when the country was opening up, and there was no such thing as personal technology. Not even brick phones.
When I went back in late 2017, I could hardly believe it was the same country. Everybody had his or her nose in a smartphone, often logged in to Facebook. You’d meet with the same sources at the same roadside cafe, but now they’d drop a stack of iPhones on the table next to the tea.
It was like the purest possible experiment in what the same society looks like with or without modern consumer technology. Most people loved it, but it also helped drive genocidal violence against the Rohingya minority, empower military hard-liners and spin up riots.
...we’re starting to understand the risks that come from these platforms working exactly as designed. Facebook, YouTube and others use algorithms to identify and promote content that will keep us engaged, which turns out to amplify some of our worst impulses. (Fisher has done articles on algorithm driven violence in Germany and Sri Lanka)And, Rich Hardy points to further work linking social media use and feelings of depression and loneliness. Work of Hunt et al. suggests that decreasing one's social media use can lead to significant improvements in personal well-being.