Not long ago, a notice from the Ministry of Education was posted on Hot Search: According to requirements, primary and secondary school students across the country “in principle are not allowed to bring personal mobile phones into campus.”
The history of “graciousness and grievance” is very long. Since the popularization of mobile phones, schools have been wary of students’ mobile phones. This is nothing new. After 2000, those who have attended elementary and middle schools may remember the happy times of blind typing on the keyboard under the desk, and the despair in their hearts when their mobile phones were “confiscated”.
What’s really interesting is that after the Ministry of Education issued a notice, online comments were overwhelmingly praised. The praise accounted for the majority, and some even said: “The three words’in principle should be removed and replaced by compulsory’.”
The critics are not “old pedantic”. Even some of them are people who hid their teachers while playing with mobile phones in class. Today they applauded this, reminding people of Luo Dayou’s heavenly question: “Did we change the world, or did the world change me and you?”
An “unnamed” puzzle
The change makes sense.
The new regulations of the Ministry of Education require cell phones to be blocked out of the school gate, and the supporting opinions are surprisingly unified. These opinions believe that the current students’ addiction to mobile phones will affect their learning. Some people laughed at themselves and said: “Adults can’t control their addiction to mobile phones, and it’s even harder for children.”
There is a “but” in everything. In the discussion, some people also mentioned that mobile phones are not a scourge, and mobile Internet is the future trend. Are similar regulations of the Ministry of Education rejecting the trend?
If we go back to ten years ago, the latter questioned view is probably the mainstream view. Indeed, the mobile Internet is the brightest industry at the moment. It has greatly improved people’s lives and will continue to develop.
Especially in the past year or so, during the epidemic, mobile Internet performed well. In the education industry, online courses are widely popularized, and live teaching has become a new outlet. They make up for the shortcomings of suspension of classes, otherwise the harm of the epidemic will be even greater.
Since the benefits are obvious, how can you just throw it away?
No one denies that the Internet has many benefits, and no one denies its bright future. But, should you give your phone to your child? When asked about this, most adults will think that there seems to be something faintly wrong with the current Internet.
But this feeling could not be summarized, and was eventually buckled to “addiction to mobile phones.” But you must know that “addiction” is not a phenomenon today. More than ten years ago, when the first batch of internet addicted teenagers appeared, society did not completely turn the blame on the internet.
This “faintly wrong”, even the Internet people themselves can’t explain it clearly.
“We are facing a problem, it doesn’t even have a name.” In Netflix’s documentary “Surveillance Capitalism: Smart Trap”, Google’s former design moral ethicist Tristan Harris said.
This is a not-so-hot documentary, but on Douban.com, there are more than 20,000 comments and a score of 8.7. The documentary team interviewed a group of technical personnel from Google, Twitter, Facebook, IG and other giants. Facing the camera, experts say with certainty that at the technical level, there are absolutely no bad guys—technology is meant to develop for the better, and no one thinks the opposite.
But where is the problem?
“We have all noticed that the Internet has brought too much convenience. It helps find relatives who have been separated for many years, find organ donors, and it makes people’s contact convenient. These are amazing innovations.” A well-known software Pinterest The expert said in the film.
The similar benefits that the Internet has produced on the positive side can be listed indefinitely.
Turning the subject of the conversation, the expert said: “People overly ignore the negative side of the Internet.”
Even at the moment, the negative effects of the Internet have become increasingly prominent, and people cannot find the crux. Or, the crux found out is easily refuted. For example, the personalized push generated from the recommendation algorithm allows users to see only the information they want to see, thus forming an “information cocoon”, splitting social consensus and accelerating the differentiation of opinions.
The “information cocoon room” has been criticized for a long time, but if the recommendation algorithm is abandoned, most of the “intelligence” of the Internet will disappear, and the convenience brought by it will disappear. It is obviously impossible to give up eating because of choking.
Of all the industries in the world, only two industries call their users users. They are the Internet and illegal drugs.
Another issue that has been controversial for a long time is privacy leaks caused by the Internet. Never before in human history has it been like this, where everyone’s most private things are stored in the hands of large companies (third parties). Even, they will be used by third parties and eventually targeted to the users themselves.
However, this problem remains unsolved. The technology of the Internet determines that the relationship between users and servers is simply the sending, request, analysis, and response of data. The most pessimistic view is that humans may have to give up their right to privacy.
No matter the “information cocoon” or the “privacy leak”, they are close to a complaint. Due to the lack of solutions, the development of Internet technology cannot be enlightened.
In an attempt to find the source of the problem, the team of “Surveillance Capitalism: Smart Trap” quoted a rather novel statement. From a commercial point of view, it is stated as: “What is the product of the Internet?”
People have access to Internet services, but they have not paid for it. So, what is supporting the huge giant “996” to work overtime? Who is paying for the costs?
The answer is not hard to imagine: the real users of the Internet are advertisers.
“If you didn’t spend money on the product, then you are the product being sold.” This sentence is highlighted in the film. Yes, the so-called “Internet users” are not real users.
It is interesting to note that the film points out that out of all the industries in the world, only two industries call their users as users. They are the Internet and illegal drugs.
Therefore, every person who surfs the Internet, their attention becomes the product, and the advertiser is the user who pays for it. The logic of profitability is as follows: Internet companies capture people’s attention and then package and sell “products” to real users.
Looking at it this way, “privacy leakage” is a false proposition. The Internet does not serve people who surf the Internet. Their data itself is a trading tool that must be obtained and used, which is almost natural.
“Information cocoon room” has pros and cons, but it has never considered users. The essence of the recommendation algorithm to be developed is not to provide accurate services to personalized users, but to accurately push advertisements to advertisers.
To paraphrase a buzzword: The free services we obtain on the Internet are obtained at the most expensive price.
Anyone who is online can feel that today’s Internet is getting better and better at attracting attention. From the commercial point of view described in the film, it becomes reasonable.
Online media is the most obvious example. Content creators have caught up with the express train known as “Internet thinking”, but readers are not disgusted. In just a few years, the “Title Party” has changed from being funny to vulgar, and becoming a rat crossing the street. The communication between netizens has become “share the story you just made up.” In “Intelligent Trap”, this is summarized as that we have transitioned from the information age to the false information age.
But true or false does not seem to matter anymore. People know that the Internet is full of fake photos, fake videos, and fake news, but they are still immersed in it. Moreover, the more fake and exotic the content, the more money the online media makes.
The Internet has changed the media ecology, and getting attention comes first. The content is no longer for readers, because of the “Internet thinking”, their real users are also advertisers. Respect for readers is not worth mentioning, readers are just merchandise sold on behalf of others.
The headline party is therefore easy to understand, it is only to gain attention. There is a word in the Chinese Internet: “The Age of Traffic”. It accurately summarizes this business, flow, and wealth.
There is no good or bad in the age of traffic, and we have all been engulfed in it. But this is not over yet.
The pursuit of attention is not only to increase the quantity, but also to improve the quality-to attract users for as long as possible.
How to keep the user’s attention? On the Chinese Internet, Weibo is an epoch-making product. There has never been a “XX control” before. But in the year of the rise of Weibo, “weibo control” began to prevail. The difference between it and the blog is that it is more convenient to obtain information, with just one tap, replacing the previous habit of searching, browsing, and clicking to watch.
The information flow is thus revitalized. Every minute and every second, there are dynamic updates from friends on the timeline. This speed is getting faster and faster. In the era of “personalized push”, there are endless videos on Douyin, which are queued to enter your phone. The operation is also more convenient, just slightly upwards.
From Weibo to Douyin, why are mobile phones so addictive? In “Smart Trap”, experts from the technology industry mentioned that the principles of social media are consistent with the principles of “slot machines” in casinos.
They all take advantage of the fragility of human nature and pry open the market of attention.
What they have in common is that the user never knows what he will see next time and what gift he will get when he launches the slot machine/social media. The mobile phone is even better. It is a “slot machine” that is always at hand.
Our understanding of mobile phones has fallen behind. It has long been not a communication tool, but a “gambling-like machine” that awakens users’ desires at any time.
“Monster” in hand
“If it’s just a tool, it won’t have desires for you.” In the documentary, Tristan Harris said. But it is clear that today’s Internet companies are trying their best to make mobile phones more easily addictive.
The principle of social media is the same as the principle of “slot machines” in casinos. They all take advantage of the fragility of human nature and pry open the market of attention.
The difference between the “Internet addicted teenagers” more than ten years ago and the vast number of “mobile phone addicts” today lies in this desire.
When the problem of Internet addiction first appeared, a common defense was that the Internet was only a double-edged sword. Some people use it to do good deeds and create innovations, and some use it to do bad deeds and defy themselves. Therefore, it is not the Internet that should be reflected, but the people who use it.
Furthermore, online games make people addicted, but in adolescence, which of steel balls, sandbags, slingshots… hasn’t been fascinated? There are things that a generation is addicted to. Therefore, online games are not a scourge.
In the Internet age more than ten years ago, this was true. But is it still valid now?
Objects that are addicted to the Internet have shifted from computers to smartphones. It is no longer a machine left aside, waiting silently to be turned on. It is right next to the user, it is the rich possibilities that the user can reach at any time, a Pandora’s box full of temptations.
Not only that, dozens of apps “Qunfang Jingyan” keep sending out push notifications, and they compete for your attention. When you click on the screen, the most advanced algorithms researched by hundreds of people, and the logic compiled from hundreds of millions of pieces of data, all try to keep you staring at the screen.
Human attention is certainly controllable, but there is a severely unequal competition between users and Internet companies.
Those who support the “tool theory” think that mobile phones are no different from steel balls, sandbags, and slingshots. They may forget that code is never just a tool. Tristan Harris said in the film that if it is a tool, such as a hammer, it will only wait for me to use it, but it has no purpose in itself.
The generation of a piece of code, when it was first designed, had a purpose.
On the other hand, the code is never neutral, it never considers all the facts, but only considers the parameters that the designer adds to it. For example, when the designer types the code, he may consider the convenience of the product and the accuracy of the relevant users, but he will never consider whether this is beneficial to the user.
It would be weird if this scene were to be personified. A person who meets you every day or even stays with you all day, he “feeds” you, but never thinks about whether this is healthy for you.
Suppose a person is impulsive, purposeful, and morally (design) flawed. According to common sense, we will educate him and correct him. Isn’t it?
However, when “this person” is a mobile phone or mobile Internet, users cannot change it. Even, not everyone realizes that there is a problem, but only feels that there is a “faintly wrong”. At this time, at least let it stay away from the child, everyone is happy.