24

More Clicks

July 18, 2022 by Tim

It can feel like the world has gotten more dangerous over the last few generations, but more so I think due to technology we’re now more aware of/bombarded with every little terrible thing that happens around the globe, which can amplify that sense of chaos and danger.

My wife and I both sometimes find ourselves comparing notes on headlines we’ve seen. “Did you see the one about the…?” even though hearing/reading about these things makes us heartsick and we hate imagining the reality of it, in a way it feels like vigilance. Accidents happen and you can’t walk around in a constant state of fear, but I think on a basic level we imagine that if we can at least be aware of the things that could go wrong, we might be better prepared to protect against them.

Knowing how behavior-driven social media algorithms are, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re just skewing our article results worse and worse. Click on one article about a riptide drowning accident, and suddenly it looks like the ocean is gobbling kids up left and right if they so much as look at the water.

This is just a parenting example, but we know it happens with everything; politics, conspiracy theories, etc. It’s not hard to imagine why some people lose their grip when viewing the world through one of these biased lenses.


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MRD
MRD
23 days ago

There are less child injuries, deaths and abductions than every before. The world is actually significantly safer than when I was a kid.

foducool
foducool
23 days ago
Reply to  MRD

yep, occurences of such accidents are just more easily reported, so it seems there’s more, but that’s all

Last edited 23 days ago by foducool
The Legacy
The Legacy
23 days ago
Reply to  MRD

Perhaps, but at what cost? Jungle Gyms are boring, and how often do you see kids hanging out outdoors anymore? I feel like most kids these days are playing their consoles and making friends online. I feel like Gen X was the last generation where kids we’re able to actually experience fun in a way that actually taught us something through trial and error. By taking away all the danger, it prevents kids from knowing what to do and not to do.

DanVzare
DanVzare
23 days ago
Reply to  The Legacy

People were saying the exact same thing during my generation. ¬¬
And how often do I see kids hanging outdoors? There’s literally some annoying little brats outside my window right now! I see them outside all the damn time!

DanVzare
DanVzare
23 days ago
Reply to  DanVzare

And by “them” I mean kids in general. I have no idea who the kids are that are currently outside.
(Also, why on Earth are they outside? It’s too freaking hot!)

Eldest Gruff
Eldest Gruff
23 days ago
Reply to  DanVzare

Have you tried telling them to get off your lawn?
Maybe they don’t know that they should get off your lawn.

robloughrey
robloughrey
23 days ago
Reply to  The Legacy

Let me guess, you’re Gen X. Every generation has said this about the next since the beginning of time I think. For certain it goes all the way back to ancient Greece. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/63219-the-children-now-love-luxury-they-have-bad-manners-contempt

Some Guy
Some Guy
22 days ago
Reply to  robloughrey

Get off my lawn!

Scrysis
Scrysis
23 days ago
Reply to  MRD

I must be from a different location. It’s worse now than when I was a kid. We never had active shooter drills and had to be worried about mass murderers growing up.

TomB
TomB
2 days ago
Reply to  Scrysis

There’s over 500,000 US survivors of school mass shootings. That’s approximately That’s about 1 in 676 across the entire US population.

That’s worse than it used to be. And that wasn’t just reporting differences. And that’s only one type of traumatic experience – there’s plenty of gang shootings and drug related shootings (or other violence) that kids have been subjected to and continue to be (and it is escalating).

The fact that the US population finds that acceptable is, for most of the G20, a puzzling reality.

Snowfae
Snowfae
23 days ago

This comic right here is why I burnt my Twitter account to the ground and I’ve been happier for it. Its like that line from Men in Black: “THERE ALWAYS IS (insert horrible shit here) and the only way that these happy little people can go about their happy little lives is if THEY. DON’T. KNOW ABOUT IT!”

Richard Weatherfield
Richard Weatherfield
23 days ago
Reply to  Snowfae

“There’s always an alien battlecruiser or a Corellian death ray or an intergalactic plague that’s about to wipe out life on this miserable little planet. The only way these people get on with their happy lives is they DO. NOT. KNOW ABOUT IT!”

-Agent K

The Legacy
The Legacy
23 days ago
Reply to  Snowfae

I stopped using my primary Twitter account and switch to a local Focus one for that very reason. Also stopped using Facebook. I read Google News and that’s it, and only because I want to make sure I’m aware when those alien battlecruisers, Corellian death rays, or Intergalactic plagues are coming around – or, perhaps, major world events. 😅 (P.S. thanks Richard Weatherfield for that quote, because it’s true. Lol)

Last edited 23 days ago by The Legacy
Junjie Xie
Junjie Xie
23 days ago
Reply to  The Legacy

Even Google News has to be aggressively curated, or it’ll fill up with celeb gossip or anti-anti-movement drumbeating

TomB
TomB
2 days ago
Reply to  The Legacy

The reality is, with a population of 7 billion+, awful things have, continue to be, are, and will happen to kids. That leaves dead kids, traumatized kids, broken families, traumatized families, and the list goes on. And that’s the things we know are going to happen statistically plus the things that have already happened. That’s not including all the things that *could* happen. So every one of us should be sitting in the dark corner shivering. That said, you can’t live that way. Many seem to take the approach of the ostrich (I will pay no attention to anything that… Read more »

Jim
Jim
23 days ago

The world is far safer than it has ever been. I recommend Factulness (Hans Rosling) for an excellent account of how.

John Swift
John Swift
23 days ago

I wish the algorithms were better at deciding/knowing whats a 1 time thing, like buying a toilet seat, vs something recurring such as buying anime figures. If it were better it would be less annoying. There are things on youtube I haven’t liked specifically cuz i didnt want to cause too much stuff like that to appear. It randomly showed me a vid about cows that was a decent watch, but when it always had something from that channel i just his don’t recommend. Even if one watch was interesting I dont want to watch more.

Namefield
Namefield
23 days ago
Reply to  John Swift

Algorithms are far more retarded than that. They don’t even get what context is. Like: Get them confused if you have a term that exists across multiple languages for totally different things -or- the same term for 2 totally different things -or- them simply not getting it that term plus number (Like “Starcraft 2”) being NOT equal to term without number or with any other number, which is always very bad when any specific version of something was good but the others weren’t and you don’t want to be reminded of that crap. Aside from what you actually clicked there’s… Read more »

Jack0r
Jack0r
23 days ago
Reply to  Namefield

I once got interested in a programming language named Monkey. I dropped that after a day, since it was basically impossible to google anything regarding that language^^

robloughrey
robloughrey
23 days ago
Reply to  Namefield

Right? Last Christmas, I dont know how but nearly every ad I saw online both on amazon and every other website was advertising home brewing supplies. I don’t drink, I hate beer. I’ve never considered even looking at those supplies. Somehow the algorithm decided that’s what I needed.

Some Guy
Some Guy
22 days ago
Reply to  Namefield

Im a patent attorney, so I search deep for a minute details of something that is germane to me for a week, then never again. The suggestion bots loose their –proverbial– minds try to follow my trends, it makes them easy to ignore. At least until, they see me click on a Viking article.

Jack0r
Jack0r
23 days ago
Reply to  John Swift

You bought a washing machine? So you are a washing machine buyer? Here, I got hundreds more for you to buy!

Christopher
Christopher
23 days ago
Reply to  Jack0r

Surely, if you liked the machine you bought, then a second (or third!) would make you even happier!

Number51x
Number51x
23 days ago
Reply to  John Swift

Or turn off ad personalization and watch the hilarity as it tries to guess what you are into anyway and you get ads for boat towing (??).

nealithi
nealithi
23 days ago
Reply to  John Swift

I agree. Some of these are like, “You just bough CP2077. Would you like to buy CP2077!?” on repeat.
Yeah, got a copy I am good. . .

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
23 days ago
Reply to  John Swift

I remember the time I bought a complete box set of a TV show I like. For MONTHS, I could not get that same online store to stop recommending individual seasons of said show. Stupid algorithm, why would I buy season 4 of show when I JUST BOUGHT ALL THE SEASONS IN ONE BOX?!?!

Rolando
Rolando
23 days ago

Dear Tim: “It can feel like the world has gotten more dangerous over the last few generations,” I think you won’t find solid evidence of this. The rest of your analysis is way more reasonable, I believe. And it actually refutes that first statement. World population DOUBLED over the last 50 years. It QUADRUPLED over the last 100 (all approximations, of course). So, whatever situation didn’t double/quadruple along with population growth during that time… Has remained the same, or actually gone smaller. Simple proportion. Also, yes. The key word for all this “extra danger” people perceive now is VISIBILITY. The… Read more »

Last edited 23 days ago by Rolando
Stef
Stef
23 days ago

The world most definitely has not gotten more dangerous over the last few generations

Casra
Casra
23 days ago

Before my children were born, stories of disaster that befell children were “sad” and I would feel for the families. AFTER my kids were born, every newspaper (yes I’m old shush) or internet story or TV News show on a tragedy… my kids faces would appear on the screen, the paper, the article. I totally feel you.

idClarky
idClarky
23 days ago

I remember the fear that swept the nation about just how dangerous it is for your child to eat a grape. I mean, yeah, I get it, that’s why the advice is to cut them, but I swear the headlines were almost as bad as “CHOKING MURDER DEATH FRUIT CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM!”.

rixu
rixu
23 days ago

What I’ve been able to piece together the anxiety everyone has is partially because we know every crappy thing that happens everywhere within hours of notice. Before people were only aware of the crap that happened in their own country (or if we go a bit further back = Their own town/state).
Too much information and the algorithms make it so much worse.

Alex Pendragon
Alex Pendragon
23 days ago

Funny thing I read that ties into this is that we keep forgetting that we are in fact animals and that our conscious mind is built on top of the animal OS. Or more bluntly, our conscious and subconscious minds process things like this differently. Let’s say you read about a really bad accident before work. When you get to work you hear a couple of your coworkers talking about it. It gets brought up again at lunch. After work you see another article on it. When you get home your friend/roomie/significant other brings it up. Your conscious mind is… Read more »

FireballDragon
FireballDragon
23 days ago

The new BA.5 variant of Covid isn’t helping in that regard, either.

J.D.
J.D.
23 days ago

the algorithms are driven by ad revenue. i don’t even think the ad people care anymore more if the ad’s actually increase sales of any product.

HonoredMule
HonoredMule
23 days ago
Reply to  J.D.

Some definitely don’t, because plenty of ads aren’t selling products. They’re just buying and re-selling YOU.

RblDiver
RblDiver
22 days ago
Reply to  J.D.

Marketing is tough. I know in the print world, a normal response rate is around 1.5%, and I think in digital it’s lower (but don’t know the exact number). Digital ads are most often essentially an auction; when you visit the site, the ad server (I don’t know the specific term) tells its clients “I have visitor ABC, who’ll buy?” Each client bids on the person, winning bid gets to serve their ad. Hence why, if you’re pretty much an unknown entity, the only things you’ll get are the ads for toenail fungus and the like, because they’ll pay a… Read more »

FITSniper
FITSniper
23 days ago

Getting off social media is the solution.

Tom K
Tom K
23 days ago

“It can feel like the world has gotten more dangerous over the last few generations”

As a few others have said, approaching this rationally and learning that this statement is completely wrong really helps. Humans are bad at conceptualizing really big numbers, and we tend to dramatically overestimate how frequently things happen in a country of 320 million people when we hear about them.

some guy
some guy
23 days ago

Like others have pointed out: The world has in fact never been safer than it is today. You might feel that it’s become more dangerous because you hear and read about everything (including dangers) so much more than we used to.
This age of information is doing a very bad job at teaching people how confirmation bias works.

Last edited 23 days ago by some guy
Kaitensatsuma
Kaitensatsuma
23 days ago

It’s worth talking about how useless all these helpful algorithms are now that they basically feed into one another.

It isn’t quite at the level of how they’ve made cellphones nearly useless with automated telemarketing? But it’s quite nearly there.

J.D.
J.D.
23 days ago
Reply to  Kaitensatsuma

yes same ads all the time.i think it even counts you when you hover your mouse pointer over some sponsored post on FB. all of a sudden you get 100 similar “recommended” sponsored ad/posts

Henchman Twenty1
Henchman Twenty1
23 days ago

I was a child of the 70’s and we freely romped about the neighborhood, including the nearby woods and athletic field. My bother and I would even play in other people’s yards on our street and most of the neighbors didn’t mind. A few of the old ladies would even invite us in for cookies and lemonade. When my youngest brother had kids he and his wife wouldn’t even let them go down the street without an adult.

Number51x
Number51x
23 days ago

We were roving packs of wolves back then! I’m only just now letting mine out on his own in his early teens. I feel like that was huge mistake. That said, we got into some ridiculously unsafe situations. That’s what keeps me up at night. I can warn about the stupid crap I did at least.

Last edited 23 days ago by Number51x
Henchman Twenty1
Henchman Twenty1
23 days ago
Reply to  Number51x

One day my brother and I were walking home from school and there was a convenience store across the street from the school. There were these two old gentleman in golf clothes talking to each other next to one of their cars, a big old Cadillac. They engaged us in conversation and one of them asked if we wanted some candy. Of course we said, “yes”, so he popped open his trunk. His golf bag was in there and also a box or bag with candy. Fortunately it was all as innocent as that, but in hindsight I think to… Read more »

Jacob
Jacob
23 days ago

One of the news aggregates that I frequent is Ground.news. They don’t source news themselves but rather collect headlines for similar articles from various sources, as well as the first paragraph. It helps to identify the spin between sources covering the same topics, and if you want to read a particular article, it links directly to the source. While not directly related to the comic, it does address the political / conspiracy bias as noted above, while helping you keep track of your own consumption if you create an account. They also work in multiple countries and you can subscribe… Read more »

Dennis
Dennis
23 days ago

I watched part of a marathon of ‘Car Crash TV’ and now I have an urge to buy a dashcam. Then I can record my drive to and from work everyday.

Number51x
Number51x
23 days ago

Social Media; not even once.

KenP
KenP
23 days ago

Am then there is the medials propensity to “report” on the things that are the most spectacular, or dramatic. The old “If it bleeds, it leads” policy of pretty much all media, mainstream or more commonly in the “alternate” media. And wherever possible, get a “live on the scene” quote from the most opinionated, loudest, person they can find.

David
David
23 days ago
Reply to  KenP

“This teenager shorted an entire gallon of Monster energy drink through a straw up his nose and now he’s in the hospital. is this a dangerous new trend in today’s youth?!”

Crestlinger
Crestlinger
23 days ago

Beat the algorithm at it’s own game. ‘Ways to destroy your internet provider’ ‘kitty photos’ ‘polar ice cap melting’ ‘happy’ ‘dance music’ ‘cheapest funeral services’ ‘gardening’ ‘best fireworks displays’ And have it code itself neutral faster than you can say ‘hypnotic winter soldier’.

Leon
Leon
23 days ago

Life IS a risk, always has been……….

VibrantEvolution
VibrantEvolution
23 days ago

My mom asked me once “hey you know how that car looks like” and I googled it so she could show me and I got ads for cars for weeks. Not that I like ads but getting the same one for something you’re actually not interested in is stupid… I keep getting one for supplements during pregnancy. I have two kids and I have no interest in more and I’ve not googled anything of the sort… but I don’t click the “don’t show me this anymore” cuz it’s a very soft and calm, short add while others are loud and… Read more »

Duke
Duke
23 days ago

My Dad didn’t even believe me when I told him violent crime in the US is half of what it was in the early 90’s. Had to look up the official government numbers. The problem is it’s not just social media, but also regular news. Everything is fear porn.

Bakhtosh
Bakhtosh
23 days ago
Reply to  Duke

And the news outlets are scrambling to remain relevant by sensationalizing it as much as they can get away with. We’ve lost the journalists of old and replaced them with ambulance chasers.

Thomas Gebhardt
Thomas Gebhardt
21 days ago
Reply to  Duke

Never fear people are already working on that. Who believes official government numbers anyway?

Phaet
Phaet
23 days ago

I don’t think it works that way. I see articles I don’t care about. Can’t remember I actually read anything.

ThatMageGuy
ThatMageGuy
23 days ago

Facebook wants you to be afraid, because their data shows it drives up their ad revenue.

Eldest Gruff
Eldest Gruff
23 days ago
Reply to  ThatMageGuy

This scares me. Can you show me some more articles about how Facebook uses fear to control us? Perhaps while also advertising some emergency preparedness rations?

nealithi
nealithi
22 days ago
Reply to  Eldest Gruff

Please no on the rations.
My father keeps thinking we need more rations and canned goods for the ‘end times’ coming upon us.

Kazuma Taichi
Kazuma Taichi
23 days ago

could I interest you in everything, all of the time?
anything and everything, all of the time?

David
David
23 days ago
Reply to  Kazuma Taichi

Apathy’s a tragedy and boredom is a crime…

raven0ak
raven0ak
23 days ago

thats why I highly recommend use noscript and keep google analytics and any other non-strictly required script out

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
23 days ago

I have turned of so many “recommended” feeds because of this. And set my trending page on Twitter to Japanese, so I can’t understand anything when I go to the search tab.

-The John-
-The John-
22 days ago

Indeed, worse and worse AI idiocy.

I recently reported a few FB ad’s selling obviously scam materials. Suddenly my FB ad feed was full of similar ads, not all of which were fake but still…

Merendel
Merendel
22 days ago

Alot of that feeling isnt that its more dangerous… its we hear about it more now. Random freak accident killed 50 people last year. Its also killed on average 50 people every year for the last 100 years but chances are none of them were within 1000 miles of you so you never heard about it in the past. Now you hear about it happening 1 time every week and people freak. When you also consider that negative/scary news drives more clicks and the algorythim is designed to maximize clicks…. Ya social media and other algorithm driven content is really… Read more »

Swiftbow
Swiftbow
22 days ago

This is why I read news on news sites that don’t have adjustable feeds. They can mess with my ads, but nothing else.

Damian
Damian
21 days ago

It’s like wearing masks. A slight uptick in cases and now I see all the 20-somethings at work rushing to plaster those things on their faces again. The older employees just shrug their shoulders and don’t bother. But if you are on media 24/7, all you see is danger, terror, horror! It’s like a binky to them. The corporate run media is not our friend. It’s there to feed our fears.

Dom
Dom
21 days ago

Nice reference to Stranger Things season 4 on the third panel! ♥