I remembered something very interesting this week.
In 2016, Donald Trump said he would probably not have won the American election, if it wasn’t for Twitter.
For most of us social media is an entertaining distraction from reality, but its real world influence has become more and more clear over the years.
To be honest, at first I also thought that it was an excellent idea to have personalised content only about the things that I am interested in.
That’s until I realised that I was missing out on so many other things, because my social media was keeping my mind hostage inside what has since become known as an “information bubble”.
It is exactly this sort of thing that led to last week’s unbelievable siege of America’s Capitol in Washington.
Trump had used a tool dreamt up to entertain the world for sinister purposes and with devastating consequences; to very nearly pull off a coup in a country that prides itself on its democracy.
In fact, Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama was probably the first world leader to widely and effectively deploy social media as part of his campaign.
While it can be argued that Obama used it for good, Trump definitely showed us how social media can be weaponised with destructive consequences.
Watching those scenes of angry Trump supporters convinced their leader had been robbed of a re-election, should be a wake-up call for world leaders.
Social media in its current form can be used to influence the masses, shape opinion and tip the balance of power quickly and easily, like never before and like nothing else we’ve ever known.
And that brings me to an interesting observation.
Following the Washington riots, which Trump instigated, he remained in charge of nuclear codes and the world's most powerful military, while Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch all suspended his accounts.
In other words, his tweets are seen as more dangerous than his guns.
What does that say about the pen being mightier than the sword?
It says that social media giants finally understand the power they wield when it comes to the opinions of the masses and how those opinions can have real-world consequences.
But it’s not enough that they understand the power they hold, it’s more important that we understand the control they have over us.
Lately I have seen a lot of posts about conspiracies around Covid-19 and powerful people wanting to microchip us so they can control us.
It’s all a load of nonsense perpetuated by those who are unwilling to understand how and why things work and are unable to think critically about it.
There are thousands of science fiction stories that deal with dystopian futures ruled by authoritarian maniacs who employ some sort of mind control over a helpless population.
While those stories are obviously overly dramatised, I do believe that social media is slowly moving us towards such a future, if we’re not careful.
Now before you accuse me of being a conspiracy theory quack, just think about 75 million Americans who voted for Trump and the hundreds who broke into their nation’s capital.
They are all brainwashed by Trump using social media propaganda and their beliefs are confirmed by their Twitter feed of like-minded people.
For the social media giants it was all fun and games, until someone’s democracy got hurt. Collectively they made probably the most important moderation decision in their history – banning the most powerful man in the world.
By doing so, they actually showed that THEY are the most powerful players in the world. But we can’t rely on them to always do the right thing on our behalf.
Just like in the sci-fi stories, there’s always a cure.
And in this case, the cure is for us to unplug, so we can learn to think for ourselves again.
Make no mistake, we are under the spell of a powerful mind control agent.
The future is not about who has the most bombs, it’s about who controls the most opinions.