By 2019, some 4.3 billion people were plugging into the internet every day, with the average user spending more than six hours per day online. Unsurprisingly, that changed people, and in this witty, perceptive exploration, Roisin Kiberd examines how. In a series of highly personal essays, she delves into such topics as Facebook’s “surveillance capitalism,” internet addiction and technology’s effects on emotional and physical well-being.
The internet is changing humanity.
Since the early days of the internet, its developers and users predicted that digital media would transform individuals and society. Many users of the web in the 1990s believed internet culture heralded the dawn of a “techno-utopian” society. That was because internet forums, blogs and multiplayer games celebrated creative “self-reinvention” and diversity. Users considered these sites as safe places in which they could shape their identity, regardless of their gender, class, sexuality or race.
Instead of fulfilling that vision, the internet evolved into a dystopia, in which Facebook and other social media platforms established a new normal of “surveillance capitalism,” “filter bubbles” and fake news. Some 4.3 billion people use the internet daily, spending on average more than six hours per day sharing idealized versions of their real-world selves. Multiple platform algorithms collect and analyze every post, click and like, and turn this voluminous data into profit.
The rise of social media enabled the parallel rise of surveillance capitalism.
In 1996, business writer...
Roisin Kiberd has written about technology and culture for The Guardian, Vice and Motherboard. Her essays have appeared in The Dublin Review, The White Review, The Stinging Fly and Winter Papers.