No, You Are Not the Product

It’s worse than that. You are that which produces the product.

We start with some thoughts from Glenn Reynolds on the possible need for social media regulation:

Social media firms want us addicted to approval. So much for WiFi making us smarter.

Glenn shares an enlightening tweet from The Stoic Emperor:

Almost all Americans own a smartphone or a computer.
Each device contains the library of Alexandria.
The sum total of all world knowledge.
You can learn anything. Why don’t you?
Too busy tracking social status.
Too enthralled by imagery your evolution can’t resist.

He relates how excited he was about the emergence of widespread wifi a few years ago, and how disappointing the social media era has proven. Is he just a grumpy old man telling the kids to get off his lawn? Or is he onto something?

Then there’s this piece, also recommended by Glenn:

You are not friends with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. You are their product.

We conveniently forgot or ignored the fact that WE are the product Facebook sells. We are not Facebook’s customers. We don’t pay to use it. We give Facebook tons of data every time we sign on or post or ‘like’ something, and they make boatloads of money off us. They sell our information to advertisers. The small price we thought we were paying was seeing an annoying ad for a dress bought on StyleWe or shoes from Nordstroms follow us around for a few months.

No exactly. We aren’t really the product. It’s worse. We are more like the livestock.

Still, there may be hope in the face of all this angst. And it may come from a pretty unexpected source.

WT 425-738

Eternity Kevin MacLeod ( | Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License |
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About Phil 523 Articles
Phil Bowermaster is a nationally recognized author and speaker. He has more than 25 years experience writing about emerging technologies and the future. As co-host of the popular Internet radio series, The World Transformed, Phil has talked with leading scientists and technologists, best-selling authors, philosophers, filmmakers, artists, entrepreneurs and others who are shaping our understanding of the amazing era of transformation in which we live. Phil helps leaders and their organizations develop strategies for managing accelerating change. He shows how imagination, optimism, empathy, and humor can make all the difference in both understanding and making the most of the powerful currents of change we face.