By Ethan Clark//Staff Writer
Author and social media theorist Douglas Rushkoff gave a lecture about mass media at the Learning Resource Center Monday night.
Rushkoff, a lecturer and college professor from New York City, talked about the negative impacts of mass media on human relationships in America. Rushkoff said that companies like Apple and Facebook take the power to program and edit away from users so they can harvest information from their users to sell to advertisers.
“Program or be programmed,” Rushkoff said. “There’s no in between. If you are using a computer and you are not on some level the programmer of that machine, then you are the thing being programmed.”
Rushkoff went on to talk about the amount of influence mass media has over people in the way companies advertise and track our shopping habits. He said that if a company like Facebook has no clear source of revenue, then the product is probably the user.
“You can have a free flashlight as long as you give away your GPS information,” Rushkoff said. “You’re not paying with your money anymore, you’re paying with everything else there is about you.”
Although he painted a grim picture of the modern world, Rushkoff said there was a wayfor people to regain their independence from mass media. Once people understand the biases of the technologies and websites they use, Rushkoff said people can be become more informed users and know which products to avoid in order to maintain their privacy.
“Think twice about what’s going to keep you strange and original,” Rushkoff said when talking about ways to avoid fitting into a company’s algorithm. As an example, Rushkoff said he left his Netflix account playing random TV shows and movies so that Netflix’s algorithms would not be able to predict his behavior.
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