Social media is designed to be addictive, like drug or alcohol. The creators want you to come back and spend more time on it. More user time means more eyes for the advertising companies to show you their advertisements. This is why all of the social media is free to join. Not because the owners want it to be a service to the public but because the users are the products themselves.
All of social media functions on making its users addicted to it. Dopamine is released when you eat good food, have sex, use cocaine. Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. It’s also released when you get likes on social media. The creators design their platform in such a way that it could trigger the release of dopamine as much as it can.
A dangerous combination of social media and clickbaity news
Sean Parker, the creator of Facebook, said this about Facebook, “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” Time Cook has this to say when it comes to his nephew, “There are some things that I won’t allow. I don’t want them on a social network.”
Certainly, these guys know something about social media that the general population doesn’t. What they know is that Social Media does more harm than good to a normal human being and hence don’t want their loved ones to use them. While social media is addictive and problematic in itself, when it’s combined with clickbaity news, it becomes a whole new level of unsafe.
Clickbaits are those titles or contents whose main purpose is to make users click on them. Just as rats are caught with food inside a cage the same way, users are baited to visit a website by using the title of the article as a bait. In the early days of the internet, clickbaits were simple. Such as, “click here to get Rs 1 Crore in your account”. Now clickbaits have evolved as users got familiar with them.
Now in India particularly, if there is a murder and the accomplices are Hindu and Muslim, the leftist news media will write, “A Hindu boy murders with his friend”. The newspaper with a right-wing ideology will write something like, “A Muslim guy and his friend murder someone”. While ironically this incident shows the inherent secularism in the country.
Both versions of these news articles would be shared by respective ideologists on their social media. People with similar ideology would click on it to validate their narrative and those with the opposite ideology would click to incite their inner hatred.
All this happens with ads running all over the place. The companies that sell products have potential buyers looking at their ads while the social media gets revenue from those companies as more and more people fight over a clickbaity article. The circle of revenue is complete!
Where to get Authentic news in India?
All News organisations in India have power and control residing with just one person, be it the owner or the investor. This is why very few agencies are independent of any ideology. Most news organisations cater to the ideology of its owner, it’s benefactor or current political landscape of the country. For example, Republic TV used to be a left-leaning news organisation before BJP came into power. It used to regularly speak against the BJP politicians and it’s working. Now however it has made a complete u-turn and become a right-leaning news organisation.
To get authentic news in India, you have to put in the effort yourself. Staying informed is dependent on how much time and effort you put into staying informed. The fact that news channels have become reality TV is not a failing of News agencies but rather the citizens themselves. Viewers taking more interest in people shouting and acting like buffoons on national television has what made these channels run verbal boxing matches all day long.
If you want to get authentic news then you must figure out which political spectrum a news organisation lies in and then make informed decisions based on that. The best way to see a neutral standpoint is to look at the far right news channel and the far left – you will get a better idea of what the actual news is. ANI is probably the single biggest news organisation that seems neutral, reporting the news rather than opinions but you can never be sure.
Whatever you do, never read you news from Social media, those are specifically designed to be outrageous and sensational to catch your attention.