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Za človeka gre 2021 / All about people 2021

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How Is Online Media Transforming Our Minds

Our Slovenian, European and Western-civilization society is being fundamentally transformed in recent years. Two sources of the change investigated here are the classical and the online media. The classical media in particular under the Trump presidency changed into the pro- and cons-media with insignificant number of classical media staying neutral, objective. The classical media in Slovenia or USA started turning into promotion organization in either way. The study we performed consisted of the following questions: 1. Are there positive or negative news about Melania Trump; 2. The tone about migrants; and 3. Was there any note about church attacks in France. It turned out that there were sharp lines dividing the classical media into two pools regarding these three issues.

It is no surprise that the online news media was similar to the classical media; after all, all major classical media is also active online. Nothing new there.

The online study worldwide and by the author was stunning in two ways:

· The dark side of the online media was revealed in public by The Digital Dilemma and Worldnet. The landmark report The Digital Dilemma was introduced by the Academy’s Science and Technology Council. It showed that several online mechanisms are in effect negative for individuals and society, with likes in social networks an example. The inventors expected that the likes will promote kindness and positive emotions all over the networld, rewarding good ideas and positive feelings. In reality, it was the contrary: netizens behaved surprisingly primitive and performed massive brutal attacks on particular victims sometimes chosen randomly. The medieval which-hunt as if re-emerged from the dark centuries ago.

· Second, the effect on an average netizen was negative in terms of feelings and loss of sense of reality. Several studies showed that the number of hours daily spent on digital networks was directly proportional to the amount of negative thoughts in a retrospective way, including thoughts of a suicide. Secondly, the number of people believing in proven wrong, unscientific opinions significantly increased. For example, the number of conferences about flat Earth is on constant rise in recent years. In Slovenia, a record percentage of population does not trust the vaccines, according to The Lancet paper, which puts Slovenia among the 5 worst countries in the world. In the last two years, some of our studies have revealed the sources and mechanisms of these negative effects. While the internet remains one of the best and most democratic media in the world, many visionaries warned for years to come that there are strong forces that will use the power of the online media for their own (dark) purposes. It is still not clear whether these negative side-effects are emergent or there are particular most influential individuals behind them or both. In the lecture, we will reveal the newest and most challenging observations and hypotheses.

Matjaž Gams
Institut »Jožef Stefan«


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