Geert Lovink: The motive of falling into an vortex is a scary one, I agree. It indicates that we’re no longer in charge. The tools are no longer cool and our curiosity is fading. We are trapped in the golden cage of the social. A decade into the saga, we start to get an glimpse how these social media operate—and what the cost the ‘free’ is. The origin of abyss image goes back to the June 2013 ‘awakening’ when Edward Snowden proved that ‘the internet is broken’. The internet innovation cycle has come to an end. We realize that we ended up in a culture dominated by consolidation and regression, in which quasi-monopolies are cornering us to extract ever more data. The childish functionality of social media reflects this. The Edgar Allan Poe motive of the abyss suggests an immolation of the self, whereas we usually associate social media with empowerment and positive self-promotion. The rewarding dopamine moments do exist, but the overall feeling is one of anxiety, boredom and depression. It’s a zero learning environment, designed not to upset us. As Zuckerberg said, when he testified before the U.S. Senate, users should not feel uncomfortable. The experience  should not be shocking. The question is no longer about newness and expectations what social media could deliver. Instead, we are confronted with a world dominated by growing inequality, depletion and conflict in which we all try to keep up, fall behind, fail to respond, make the wrong choices, or worse: no choice at all. That’s when you know you’re floating down the abyss.

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