Musing: Scary Social Media

I frequent several types of media in small doses.  Part of my ‘rotation’ includes a healthy dose of Anime (Japanese Animation).  Typically I indulge the same way someone might enjoy junk food—you know, a sometimes food.

Every so often I get a flash of substance I can’t ignore.  And this time it came from people who transform into robot looking things by yelling “Go!  Bird!”

The show is Gatchaman Crowds (A follow up to the show we in the states know as G-Force), and this isn’t a review post.  It’s a post about the seed this show planted in my mind.   It took me from seeing the potential for good of social media and cell phone apps.  Then, right when I got comfortable, it showed me how quickly this can spiral into a nightmare.gatchaman-crowds-4

In the show, there is a network service that allows people to socialize (like Facebook / Twitter) but the real ‘magic’ of it was an incident reporting service.  When you register and give your interests and skills, the app keeps a look out for things that happen in the world.   For the sake of simplicity, let’s say someone fell down some stairs.

Someone on the network reports the incident (or the administrator puts out a notice manually) and it alerts people in range– people with medical experience.   They run to the injured person’s aid and report when the incident is resolved.  Those who get involved get ‘points’ like a real life MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online Game).

At a glance this looks like a beautiful thing.  The response time has the potential to be incredible.  Even if it is something that requires professional service, at the very least it gets people involved and excited to help their fellow man.

Look closer and you realize the raw extent of the power granted to the service.  This is a Dystopian concept if I’ve ever seen one.  Even if you don’t include the weird supernatural aspect of the show, the admins have control of the users ‘life’.  Anyone familiar with a cellphone app knows about ‘permissions’ and this would require access to your identity at the core.

Concepts like this are interesting to me.  Sci-Fi dissects where we are and where we’re going and the ‘social media revolution’ is ripe for the picking for such exploration.




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