Propaganda is a soft weapon; hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way. – Jean Anouilh
Social media is a dangerous place.
In the time-sink sense in my case.
I saw a post about a chap putting a point of view across in a debate and unwisely listened to it. I drew what he looked like as I listened. It’s a perfect likeness – the one on the left – if I say so myself.
I get it, he was putting across a point of view and it was all a show – but the points were wrong in two ways. First, they were obviously wrong and second, they were morally wrong. And yet he had a good, although obvious, next step, and yet the whole thing rankled.
Let me be specific – the debate was about climate change and specifically the UK’s contribution to climate change. The UK’s impact, the speaker said, was around 2% and so it didn’t matter what the country did. The problem was elsewhere.
Of course, if you think about this for a second it cannot possibly be true. The UK is a rich country, each person consumes a lot more than people in other countries, and all that consumption uses resources and energy. Just because that energy isn’t burned in the UK itself and is instead offshored to manufacturing firms in developing countries that doesn’t mean the UK isn’t responsible for the demand that creates those emissions in the first place.
Impact comes from everything you do – both your action and your consumption choices. And it’s right that those that consume the most should make better choices about what they buy – because that demand for better will drive change throughout the system.
I made the mistake of lingering on social media for one minute too long and then saw how our friendly neighbourhood artificial intelligence chatbot is being used to manipulate people. Or more accurately – to try and manipulate people.
Some chap had created a list of prompts you should put to ChatGPT so it would write sales emails on your behalf. This seems like a waste of time – and a waste of intelligence. But if your job is to write email automation campaigns maybe it’s worth seeing if you can outsource it to a machine that will probably do a better job.
The good thing is that the AI tool is probably going to be the thing that fact checks the first guy’s lies but then you’ll also have the AI tools writing a new set of lies – and the battle between participants jockeying for position and power will continue.
I am also, luckily, reading Terry Pratchett’s biography, “A life with footnotes” and the important thing, for this prolific author, was to get into his office and get on with the daily wordcount.
Which is what I should do – get off social media and focus on work.