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Ehren Joseph Layne

Opinion Piece

*This piece is purely an opinion piece: I kind of just ramble and let my thoughts flow freely. *

More and more I’ve grieved for the current state of the world. California is on fire, a deadly disease has turned the world upside down, Russia is Russia, the polar ice caps are melting, and so on, but as much as I grieve for these disasters, I more so grieve over the loss of individuality. We’ve been programmed to believe that our presence online is, to some degree or another, positive; we connect with others, we are free to express ourselves, and was have instant access to a wide breadth of information. We feel so much glee for having the ability to learn whatever, whenever, and share our views on what we’ve learned whenever and wherever. I am happy that I can google a word and don’t have to go through the strenuous process of opening a dictionary and searching for the first letter of whatever word and so on and so forth; having instant access to everything is such an indescribable feeling that it terrifies me that I can’t describe it. We have become numbers. Literally. Corporations create products that make us believe that we are special when in reality we are nothing but dollar signs and algorithms. It has come to a point where the US has now taken into custody big tech corporations and accuse them of commodifying our sense of self-worth and self-identity. Instagram’s like button, Facebook’s poke feature, Twitter’s retweet function; each of these simple programs made to make us feel like we are worth a damn, have actually made us worth a few cents. Every like, every retweet, every poke is another dollar in the pocket of Wall Street’s mega businesses, and I have been mourning the death of genuine feelings of individuality. I often judge myself for playing into social media’s many demons(and as of September I have not used Instagram nor Twitter) but then find myself having to stop and recontextualize why I play into them. It isn’t because I’m weak-minded(I hope). It isn’t because I lack the willpower to choose. It isn’t because I’m stupid or arrogant or incapable of understanding how effective social media is at directing both my conscious and subconscious. It’s because I don’t matter. It’s because I am, for lack of better phrasing, nothing. I am just another product that has been paid for. I am just another product that has been sold. My information, my dignity, my self-worth, are all now 1’s and 0’s that Instagram can plug into an equation that summates to me. Social media has used me, to make me, and I am now only a number, or figure, that they use to make a fortune. I am so terrified of how big tech has, with little resistance, puppet-mastered the whole world. I try being hopeful but it feels too much a labour for only me to carry. To believe, to hope, feels heavy, because at the end of the day, I am just somebody else’s profit. I am just another number. I no longer equate to me.

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