Everything is becoming “choose A or B”…
This might be called Part 2 of The Digital Society.
Everything seems to be becoming a choice, but not a choice with many options… a choice where you have to choose “this” or “that.”
And it seems that when you make that choice, that companies like Facebook are monetizing that choice. But it gets much deeper.
You have to be Republican or Democrat, Religious or Atheist… you have to choose what is “good” or “bad.”
And it’s getting to the point where you can make a bad choice.
Choose brand “A” or “B.” And what you choose becomes part of your brand identity. Companies are monetizing that choice too… including the brands you choose.
Why do you have to choose though?
Why can’t you think critically and use something in the middle?
Why can’t you choose in the grey areas?
Why does the discussion always have to polarize into something that results in name-calling, and an “us versus them” mentality where there are two sides in a debate over an issue?
Is technology good or bad?
My answer lies somewhere in the middle. But most people give a binary answer, they hate Facebook or they love it… the Internet rots our brains or it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Easy, binary choices like this are lazy ways to form an opinion.
We need to think more deeply about our choices.
Because we’re heading down a slippery slope here.
Douglas Rushkoff recommends that we become more technologically literate… but I think it goes deeper than that.
I think we need to become more culturally literate.
Not that I think most people are stupid, in fact it’s the opposite…
… I believe that because we are intelligent human beings that we shouldn’t reduce ourselves to binary choices like “A” or “B”.
Instead, we need to realize that A/B choices only need to be made when there is a very specific action to be taken related to only those choices.
You don’t need to be “Republican” or “Democrat”… why couldn’t you take the best ideas in the whole political space and talk about those?
Technology is both good AND bad, and I would say some of it is useless. But if you form an opinion about technology, look at it from not just “both sides of the argument” (which is a weak way to form an opinion), and instead look at technology from a 360-degree perspective.
Look at the positive, the negative, look at how you are using it, look at how other people are using it… then look at all of that at a deeper level.
The resulting opinion you form will be closer to accurate… but never perfect unless it’s scientifically valid.
There is a grey area in most everything.
But my main issue with The Binary Society lies with our identity.
If we form our identity (online or offline) with only a series of binary choices, then our identity becomes easy to manipulate, easy to monetize, easy to pick apart.
We’re smarter than that.
A simple example is “the brand choice.”
Marketing and advertising has conditioned us to make our choices based on a “brand” we like… instead of solutions to problems. It’s easier for “Tide” to market laundry detergent to us if they can strengthen their brand, and we respond in a binary manner “YES” we like it, or “NO” we don’t.
We need to make the choice harder for Tide than that.
We need to always be open to new solutions for cleaning our laundry, not just “switch brands” because they advertise better, or because of slick TV advertising that shows something better.
In short, quit making your choices (at a binary level) based on 15 second TV spots (or quick “we were first to report it” media bites).
Do some research, understand the topic you’re researching is deeper than it appears to be in almost every case.
Even deep subjects like climate change, just because the temperature isn’t changing like we THINK it should, doesn’t mean we aren’t damaging our environment, and shouldn’t discuss the solutions to cleaning it up.
But if you were to make a binary decision on climate, you would either be “for” or “against” climate change as an issue (which comes with its own labels and consequences)… instead of looking at the whole picture and both sides of the argument.
For or against climate change isn’t the issue, the issue is how well we are taking care of our planet, and why we would continue damaging it in the name of “cheap fuel”… when we have the technology readily available as a society to change that situation. Thankfully, we are working on that, and there are lots of variables to the discussion… so the solution won’t be in place overnight.
But forget the changing climate, apply this to anything.
Binary choices, like or dislike, this brand or that brand (or, any brand?), upgrade or be left out etc…
We need to quit thinking like that.
We can always choose to ignore, look deeper into something, think critically before labeling someone or leaving a harsh comment online… etc…
We’re better than being reduced to some binary decision, so let’s all start acting like it.