Skip to main content

Illusion of free choices

An interesting BBC article notes that social media platforms like Facebook are not merely reflecting our preferences but also actively shaping them though "nudge like":
Platforms like Facebook are curating our news and information under catchall headings like “trending topics”, or criteria like “relevance” – but we only rarely get glimpses into how the filtering happens. This is important because subtle changes in the information we are exposed to can transform our behaviour. To understand why, consider an insight from behavioural science that has been widely adopted by governments and other authorities around the world: the policy “nudge”. This is where subtle tactics are used to encourage us to adopt a particular behaviour. One famous example is making organ donation opt-out rather than opt-in. Instead of requiring people to register themselves as organ donors, an opt-out system automatically assumes that anyone’s organs can be used for donation unless they have specified otherwise. Simply by switching the default assumption, more people end up donating.
This raises all sorts of interesting questions. Do news articles trend because they are popular or because they are shown to trend? It is the aged old question of whether the media really reports news or make it. The answer of course is both, which means that the medium is also the message. Technology like newspaper is not neutral. And our choices and preferences far from being completely exogenous are always endogenous.  

Why does all this matter? Because much of the cultural narrative around us is now about autonomous self and the desire to be truly independent. We are told to be "yourself". But we forget that to be yourself requires an objective definition of yourself. You cannot simply look to your preferences and choices as the basis of the true you because your choices and preferences are endogenous. They are influenced by the likes of Facebook. To really know our true self we need to look outside ourselves. We need to look to Him who made us. Only God revealed to us in the person of Jesus knows who we really are.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I am what I am by Gloria Gaynor

Beverly Knight closed the opening ceremony of the Paralympics with what has been dubbed the signature tune of the Paralympics. I had no idea Ms Knight is still in the singing business. And clearly going by the raving reviews she will continue to be around. One media source says her performance was so electric that "there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen as she sang the lyrics to the song and people even watching at home felt the passion in her words" . The song was Gloria Gaynor's I am what I am . Clearly not written by Gloria Gaynor but certainly musically owned and popularized by her. It opens triumphantly: I am what I am / I am my own special creation / So come take a look / Give me the hook or the ovation / It's my world that I want to have a little pride in / My world and it's not a place I have to hide in / Life's not worth a damn till you can say I am what I am The words “I am what I am” echo over ten times in the song. A bold declaration that she

Pornography as Occultism

There is a kind of helplessness that a man engaged in pornography exhibits. He often speaks of it in terms of a “struggle” or an “addiction.” Now both of those terms are accurate, I believe, but they distance a person from his sin in a soul-decaying manner. Pornography is not just an addiction; it is occultism. The man who sits upstairs viewing pornography while his wife chauffeurs the kids to soccer practice is not some unusual “pervert”; he is (like his forefather Adam) seeking the mystery of the universe apart from Christ. That’s the reason the one picture, stored in his memory, of that naked woman will never be enough for him. He will never be able to be satisfied because he will never be able to get an image naked enough. I say pornography is occultism because I believe the draw toward it is more than biological (though that is strong). The satanic powers understand that “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). They understand that the pornographic

Inconsistency of Moral Progress

If morality, if our ideas of right and wrong, are purely subjective, we should have to abandon any idea of moral progress (or regress), not only in the history of nations, but in the lifetime of each individual. The very concept of moral progress implies an external moral standard by which not only to measure that a present moral state is different from an earlier one but also to pronounce that it is "better" than the earlier one.  Without such a standard, how could one say that the moral state of a culture in which cannibalism is regarded as an abhorrent crime is any "better" than a society in which it is an acceptable culinary practice? Naturalism denies this. For instance, Yuval Harari asserts: "Hammurabi and the American Founding Fathers alike imagined a reality governed by universal and immutable principles of justice, such as equality or hierarchy. Yet the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination of Sapiens, and in th