How Technology & Media is Modeling & Designing Our Perceptions

By Ch. Muhammad Natiq Ubaid
It is said, Perception is Reality and it is rightly said. There are two types of people in this world: those who view the glass as half-full, and those who see the glass as half-empty. This phenomenon is called perception, and our perceptions profoundly impact how we experience life. Perception molds, shapes, and influences the experience of our personal reality. It is merely a lens or mindset from which we view people, events, and things.

What you see and perceive is a reality for you and you believe it like the rising and setting of the Sun but it doesn’t mean that it is actually what it is. What your brain algorithm calculates and tells you after experiencing something is a reality for you whereas, sometimes it is not what is perceived. This world is full of deception and we are living in an age where our perceptions are controlled and modelled for specific goals.

Let’s take an example of advertisements we see and observe in our daily life through print, visual or audio media. We tend to buy things that have nothing to do with our needs or requirements just because our perceptions are modeled through advertisements and we are influenced to buy it subliminally. Our desires and needs are modified or designed to fulfil someone else’s needs by putting messages in our heads and influence our thoughts.

Cartoon characters, movies and dramas characters influence our perceptions and we see people around us trying to be like those characters. Even we see people taking up their lives according to their favourite characters and trying to adapt and be like them in normal life. Many criminal activities and crimes were committed by people who had developed their perceptions of right and wrong, fun and enthusiasm, action and adventure through media.

We are living in an age where media is the true influencer. It influences our lives in every aspect. This tool is used in warfare; now invading countries do not need to have boots on the ground to conquer any nation. Media is used to plant conspiracies, and divisions and impose their narratives on the minds of a nation. Media has changed the cultures and modelled religions in the past centuries. History proves that media has changed the mindset of civilizations, their thoughts and lively hood.

Media with the amalgamation of new technologies is changing the course of history. Today, war is fought and lands are won by manipulating reality. Today, we have seen political objectives being won by using technologies, putting words in one’s mouth that he has never uttered or has never acted. Recent example we can encounter is surfacing of fake audio recordings of respectable and influential people of society. We have also seen videos surfacing in media giving wrong narratives. Targets were achieved, divisions were created and civil unrest was achieved.

All this decisive and dangerous technology is in reach of every individual’s hands easily. We have seen many apps in Google play store and Apple store in which you can change your voice from male to female and vice versa. We can even change our faces with preface apps, where we can paste our face at a super star’s body and picturize ourselves performing iconic roles of a movie, or singing Brittany Spears songs.

Simple people are driven with this technology and major goals are achieved. We have seen Arab Spring which toppled old gods of Arabs melting down. Civil wars were driven by such deceptions and makeover of technology and media power. Powerful people, regimes and establishments are controlling media in this era to govern the world. Social Media has the power to control, monitor and watch each and every individual all across the world. It has the ability to influence 7.9 billion individuals.

Elon Musk purchased one of the leading social media sites through an enormous deal of 44 billion USD. This deal will make him the king of the world; making his legacy much bigger than that of Alexander the great without even dropping a pint of blood unlike Mongols to control this world through a social media site. He has the power to control minds, model their perception and direct them to work as he desires them to do through this medium. We see a world record has been made and celebrated by an unlikely nation who is deemed to be a third world nation of a country by a leader who is a novel in political arena and has good ties with the ruling family of the world.

A research study by celebrated MIT scientist have proved that false news are spread more rapidly, faster and farther on social network TWITTER then the real news.

“We found that falsehood diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude,” says Sinan Aral, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a new paper detailing the findings.

The simpler and faster options of forwarding anything to 7.9 billion masses simultaneously has made TWITTER and other social media network a menace of spreading false and fabricated news around the world through a click “retweet”. A news is designed systematically for minds to accept it and compile them to achieve goals and people forward it to like minded or social media groups to showoff how “in” they are and how informative they have been. Spread is un-controllable and authenticity is decided on how many tweets has been made on a specific news.

The study provides a variety of ways of quantifying this phenomenon: For instance,  false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people. When it comes to Twitter’s “cascades,” or unbroken retweet chains, falsehoods reach a cascade depth of 10 about 20 times faster than facts. And falsehoods are retweeted by unique users more broadly than true statements at every depth of cascade.

Beside fragmentation of news for a purpose there is one more cause of spreading False news that is false news are more novel, and people are more likely to share novel information, as per the researchers. On social networks, people can gain attention by being the first to share previously unknown (but possibly false) information. People who share novel information are seen as being in the know. This race of being the first to put up a news on their walls give rise to falsehood and false news are spread like a storm and demolishes truth and damages the society.

Technology and Media is the new nuclear bomb of this era that is neutralizing nations and winning the territories. It is dividing siblings living under the same roof, eating the same food and having the same economic situations. This bomb is changing the history and myths which we knew from ages and devising own desirable history and myths that may serve one’s purpose. We also saw a movie Matrix where people were alive in a tub filled with liquid and minds controlled and connected with virtual reality. Social Media is that virtual reality and our mobile phone, TVs, and all those mediums that connect us with this devil is our tubs. We are living in a fabricated, modified and influenced world where reality is deception and reality is rare.

Perception is reality but perceptions be made with eyes open and understanding of the topic is necessary. Believe after verify and learn the topic before believing any news. It is said “Blind faith, no matter how passionately expressed, will not suffice. Science for its part will test relentlessly every assumption about the human condition.

Skepticism is the highest duty and blind faith the one unpardonable sin”.

Don’t let the words and emotions play with your mind and you perceive black whole as the new world. Brighter minds can analyse the importance of controlling media and its motives through Elon Musk deal. He sold $8.5 billion worth of shares in the electric vehicle maker, U.S. securities filings showed, in sales aimed at helping finance his planned purchase of Twitter Inc. He sold his dream invention with a social media site so we can fairly understand the motives, that is, to play with human mind to gain own achievements and motives. So, don’t believe everything posted on Social Media, verify it before making up your perceptions.