Wednesday 17 May 2017

Social media in the dark art of necromancy

In memoriam
I have lost friends and lost relations, but I am keenly aware of their impact on my life and the blessing it has been to know them who I would no more see. Their sojourn on this mortal coil will, however, endure in the memories we recall and the fondness we shared.
Invariably, much as I love my dearly departed, I neither want to be terrorised or terrified of the moments that I remember them, I do not want to be haunted by a Casper personality nor by a poltergeist, I want to choose my own moments of reminiscing and remembrance, through the active choices that I make.
The rampage of algorithms
Unfortunately, there is a menace that has taken this out of my hands, a system completely oblivious of my situation and ignorant of its data pool, the annoying algorithms of social media websites that intrude on my tranquility with advert, notice and information in their inordinate quest for profits that would hopefully to accrue them from networking me to any random contact.
That random contact has by happenstance been one of my departed people. From as far back as before I joined Facebook, I received an invitation from Chris, my lover, but I was not interested in Facebook at that time, then Chris died in October 2009. Soon after that, I did join Facebook and a few months later, Facebook had trawled my address book and up came an invitation from the Great Beyond, Chris inviting me to connect with him on Facebook.
In that is some comfort though
It was a bit distressing, but in another way, the Facebook profiles of my dead friends now serve as an online tombstone memorial that I visit at certain times to leave a thought or pay a tribute, but I choose the time and the place of making that contribution.
I remember doing a spring cleaning of my mobile phone years ago and deleting numbers from my phone just because I knew those numbers would no more have a familiar voice answering back if I called.
Utterly dumb algorithms
We are told it is algorithms that make social media the potent socialising force it is for us today and the money-spinner for the owners; methods and ideas codified to determine my persuasions, my interests, my desires, my wants and my needs. If I were susceptible to the machinations of these sites, I would be persuaded to part with much more than I can afford in personal information and means, that is not to say that I have not been fooled before.
What I cannot understand is how these self-same intelligent algorithms have the nous to sell, but very little capacity to think. For instance, if a social media account has not been active for a while, it should not suddenly gain autonomy to interact with others, rather the algorithms should either contact the principals of those accounts or hibernate such accounts until the owners reactivate them with some input.
I do not, however, advocate a deletion of these dormant accounts because they serve some purpose as I have highlighted before. Though there might be a cynical gene in the algorithms that thinks to contact a network of contacts associated with the dormant account might prompt the receivers of the notices to nudge their dormant friends back to life on social media. The thought of resurrecting the long dead and buried through a social media nudge is scary enough.
The new online seances
Nowhere has this algorithmic menace become an apathetic atrocity than on the professional networking site of LinkedIn. We expect that LinkedIn is better suited to professional interaction until it begins to feel that each time I log on, I am being unwittingly invited to an online séance where I am inadvertently about to communicate with the dead on my professional network. There are too many examples to mention, some make me gasp and others leave me distraught, it shall pass.
However, this afternoon, I was shaken to the core when an email arrived from LinkedIn with a message of congratulations “You’ve got the most profile views out of anyone Oluwafeyikewa Akintayo knows.” Yippee! I should have said and everyone laughed when I told them my sister had viewed my profile the most of all profiles she might have networked with until I told them I lost my sister 7 months ago tomorrow.
There is no more to be said apart from the fact that I captured the screen and sent it to LinkedIn on Twitter and that upset me a bit until I regained my composure and continued with work. I do not want to be haunted by social media, that is not too much to ask any social platform to guard against.

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