Linear time as a revolutionary act

These days if something changes for the worse it's usually because the people behind it are cutting costs and corners. The feature that has been retired or removed simply cost too much and is now being eliminated in order to shave off a minuscule amount of expense in order to increase the profit margin by a tiny increment.

Any pretence of providing good customer service and better products has disappeared from many businesses as they wring out the last few droplets of money from their business model as the pyramid scheme of "buy low sell high" collapses.

However there's one kind of business where they're constantly scrambling to implement a feature which it would be far easier and cheaper to just leave out. Social media companies appear to be desperate to scramble the chronology of people's timelines despite the fact that leaving it chronological would almost certainly be cheaper from a programming point of view.

Linear time is the default - it comes free with the universe - so to expend effort (and therefore spend money) trying to mess with that must mean that there's something even more important than profit at stake.

Could it be control?

When the internet first came in it was the province of academics, eccentrics and geeks, people who were enthusiastic about what could be achieved with this new technology; how people could be come more connected than ever before.

A lot of this research and experimentation was ignored by the mainstream finance-focussed world as an irrelevant hobbyist distraction that would probably disappear like CB radio had, so by the time it became clear that it wasn't going away it was too late - the internet protocols had been designed in such a way as to maximise the speed and ease of connection, automatically finding ways around if parts of the infrastructure were unavailable.

Ever since this realisation business has been trying to find a way of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

When they realised they couldn't actually stop the internet, businesses tried their best to come up with a supernormal stimulus that would scratch the same itch and they eventually discovered that offering people a free social media service with easy sign up meant that if you set the defaults to tip the odds in favour of the house the majority of your subscribers wouldn't bother to change anything.

Randomising of chronology is one way of maintaining control. The alleged connectedness of social media ends up being an illusion if you're not seeing other people's posts in real time, and if the service itself algorithmically curates what you do and what you don't end up actually seeing.

We are all being isolated by fake interconnectedness. And when we're isolated, we're easier to control.

As the last resource that capitalism is able to exploit in its runaway quest for profit, our minds have become the final battlefield - and if we're able to talk to each other across the globe in real time that will give us an advantage. There's still a chance social media is one solution as long as we stay ahead of those who want to turn it into part of the problem.

Photo by Hasan Albari

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