Topic: To what extent has a lack of diversity influenced the development of the internet? How does this lack of diversity harm societies and individuals?
The vanishing diversity of the Internet
Throughout the development history of the Internet, it is not difficult to find that it has experienced a complex process of change. From person-to-person conversation to multi-person communication, to the disorderly “net” with no clear acceptance point, the initial small scope of information exchange and now the information network connecting the entire world. But there is an undeniable lack of diversity on the Internet — and studies on social media like TikTok show that these “trends” are gradually taking something away from people.
How the death of diversity is born starts with the platforms that are such an important part of the Internet. As a collection of certain users, the orientation of the platform often directly or indirectly affects the users’ thoughts. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok — platforms with many free user accounts that are full of diversity — are being hurt by the compressed free arena. To take a simple example, as a social media platform, even individual user accounts are subject to censorship. However, the auditor cannot guarantee the objectivity absolutely, or it can be influenced by the social culture and the government’s measures.
The loss of diversity is not achieved in a day, but a long-term process. And because it changes slowly, like a boiled frog, it is harder to prevent. As people’s brains get used to the “repetitive but lively” fast pace of Internet information, the Internet goes forward, and the power will be worn out bit by bit. Different from the brainstorming of the earliest Internet people, it is difficult for people to think of how to break through this limit and find a better shortcut after they gradually get used to such a convenient and simple life.
Trend, a potential crisis of being treated as innocuous
“Viral challenges that contain harmful activities, and even movement disorders born of the destructive content format are becoming more and more common as over 4 billion social media users engage with these platforms for more than 2 hours every day. Tiktok is, by far, the worst one.”(Upper Echelon, 2022)
TikTok is Destroying a Generation
No matter what kind of social media — Twitter or China’s Weibo or etc.– there is a kind of “trending” list designed to remind you of what people are interested in and talking about these days. TikTok is even more obvious. Users will follow some “challenges” or popular music content, making a topic become more popular in a brief period of time, after that more people will join in. It may even lead to the impression that if people do not touch and follow these trends, they are outdated and not fashionable enough. In this way, the traffic and appeal of original and unique videos are not as big as those of popular videos, and most videos are the content of repeating similar actions, which is a excessive homogenization.
“Recently, TikTok began experimenting with linked keywords within comments and video descriptions, which guide user discovery by connecting them through to broader trends.”
“Even though TikTok provides opportunities to both new creators and informed professionals, there is a rapacious nature to its never-ending For You page and eerily informed algorithm.”
So, is there anything nutritious or valuable about this trend? Most people just choose it as an entertainment activity, and whether the entertainment can obtain useful information is not important to them. Worryingly, these trends are now eating away in people’s minds as more than just a pastime. Follow the content of the popular neither need to think oneself also does not need complex preparation, rather than independent production has a deep thinking and research, this way can clearly, easy and fast to attract fans to please the audience, and the original content of the one who is, on the one hand, their production capacity is impossible like these brief quickly achieve viral video, on the other hand, Not everyone can understand and identify with something unique and created for the first time. In the choice between the lengthy process of acceptance and the straightforward choice of what the masses like, increased people are choosing the latter. In terms of fan traffic, it can be said that this popularity has discouraged originators and reduced the possibility of more diversified content on the platform.
The user is becoming the puppet of the trend
What should be alarming is that the impact of this lack of diversity is not just for platforms and businesses, but for all social media-related users. When people begin to accept similar or the same information in pieces, repeating the same things repeatedly, then people’s desire and need to learn new things will be compressed. When users get used to following the “trend” of choosing their own preferences and living according to the opinions of others, they gradually lose themselves. It’s a topic that sounds scary, but in fact, it’s happening right now.
Regardless of the privacy risks behind this, in this frenzy of viral browsing users will only become increasingly controlled by the platform and data, becoming slaves to “trends”. When people’s thinking is set, it becomes difficult to think on their own initiative. Instead, they rely on artificial intelligence to browse information for “things I might be interested in”, which further exacerbates the cycle of repeated content. By tracking a popular TikTok video at random, it’s not hard to find repeated and similar content in the comments below, with one person calling it “almost like poisoning to find similar videos.” People’s patience for complex thinking is wearing thin, and diverse discussion is diminishing.
A deeper concern is for the young. The tendency of excessive trust and blind obedience will cause some teenagers’ crisis, which is very terrible.
“Constantly emerging technological trends can cause potential harm to children and adolescents including self-esteem issues, cyberbullying, peer pressure, and physical harm.”
(Kriegel& Milanaik, 2021)
For teenagers, who are at an important stage in shaping their perceptions of the world as a whole, some potential crises may be more deadly than for adults. What they need is more self-expression and identity. Trends are a double-edged sword that satisfies those who “follow the trend” and hurts those who “stand alone.” The former will also encounter the possibility of overindulgence and loss of self, which need to be paid attention to.
Getting rid of or reducing the influence of trends may help in the future
TikTok is just one part of the Internet, a social media platform that may not represent everyone but reflects some of the problems. There is nothing one can do to prevent such changes; it is an inevitable destination. The only thing to do may be to remind yourself not to get caught up in such Internet trends, which may reduce the possibility of losing yourself in the public voice. When people start to think about the impact of trends and realize the potential crisis while enjoying the constant push of big data, it is a beginning of progress. Only when people start to wake up and remind themselves to think proactively and avoid overly following the judgment of trends will it be better for the originator.
Upper Echelon. (2022, January 9). TikTok is Destroying a Generation. [Video]. Youtube.
TikTok is Destroying a Generation
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Kriegel, E. R., Lazarevic, B., Athanasian, C. E., & Milanaik, R. L. (2021). TikTok, Tide Pods and Tiger King: health implications of trends taking over pediatric populations. Current
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