User agreement: I accept that this update will help the big companies to further spy on me and my loved ones
22-12-2017 20:17 (local time)

When people get bored visiting family and relatives this Christmas, the phone is an easy solution. But at what price do we sacrifice social interaction and meaningful face-to-face encounters?

Beyond advertising, Google and Facebook control how millions of people find their news. Americans are far likelier, collectively, to encounter articles via search engines and social media than on a news site’s home page. Google is used for nearly 90% of online searches in the U.S. A Pew survey this summer found that the four most popular social-media sites for getting news are Facebook, YouTube (owned by Google), Twitter (which has a Google partnership), and Instagram (owned by Facebook). No more than 5% of Americans use another social-media platform to get news.:

Do you ever feel like you’re being watched when there’s nobody else around? Decades ago, if the answer to that question was ‘yes’, doctors might’ve advised you to see what they called a headshrinker. But technological progress has a funny way of turning situations on their head. For example, at the turn of the 20th century, everybody had horses – but only the wealthy had cars.:

Imagine this scenario during Christmas: You get a little bored and pick up the phone. Shortly after, one relative comments on your "abuse" or "you are not being social." How will you respond? The thing is: Christmas is one of the last remaining vehicles for getting close with people we love - but clearly technology is here to stay and to mud the waters when we need each other the most.

If just three people got together and crystallized a general strategy, they would have the power to utterly dictate your online life on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Twitter and Periscope. These three people are: Eric Schmidt (although he is stepping down) of Alphabet, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Omid Kordestani of Twitter. Talk about centralization of power! And we didn't even address Apple.

Recently, there have been major calls for investigating processes of censorship concerning precisely these social media sites. Allright, so they are just websites and apps - and you always have the power to delete your account and fetch news elsewhere - but so many people are under direct social pressure not to abstain from daily updates on the sites. Under pressure to share details of their lives intimately. So this raises the question: Is it really anti-social behavior NOT to be on the social media? Or is the very name - "social media" - misleading?

Regardless, if you choose to pick up your phone in a tense moment during the holidays, beware that you are including your loved ones in a covert spying operation. You might be okay that Facebook is collecting all data on you personally, but are your loved ones also okay with their voices and behaviors being stored in some remote database?

"I have nothing to hide" is a common argument against the critique of invasion of privacy, fueled by widespread fear of terrorism and related crime acts. Well, if you have nothing to hide, you must be a boring individual. We all have secrets - right? Possibly, our views on privacy have eroded slowly, but surely over the years. It didn't come right after 9/11 to be exact. However, handing over this much intimate data to just three people, in theory, is madness! As pointed out, these are just websites, and they do have the right to do whatever they like with those websites, because they created them to begin with.

Oh, but I can always turn off the phone - or just the camera or the microphone - okay, keep dreaming that they won't collect the data anyways. Did you stop the battery from running, and how can you prove that the camera or microphone is NOT recording any longer? You choose to TRUST your IPhone? Fine, but this is a critical moment. History tells us that trusting the wrong people always leads to disaster sooner or later. The longer it goes on, the more painful it will be.

The fact is: People need social resistance to develop as adults. If you always pick up the phone when the situation becomes ackward or unknown, your brain will never launch learning processes that are important to your future social skills. Especially in Christmas we are challenged from "artificial" family structures and prolonged social interaction with nowhere to hide. It can be an important lesson. Or yet another retreat to the "safe" zone of the phone.

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