Social Media – The enemy of creativity

There was a point recently, whilst following the news, that I wondered if Men in Black was not as far-fetched as was originally thought. I refer to the photos of people that accompany news stories.

It seemed that a feeling of ‘déjà vu’ came over me whether I was looking at a picture of a victim or a perpetrator. Interestingly, this was a far more prevalent occurrence when viewing female photos. However, the same situation has begun to creep into the younger male victims or offenders.

In the case of men, they fell into two categories. There were the older men that, in the case of offenders, took on the traditional image of the hardened criminal. However, younger males seemed to be created from a mould formed from various participants of reality shows like Love Island.

But the creation of an alien race was much more pronounced when it came to females. Either there was one person going around being both victim and perpetrator across the country, or else there was something else going on.

Following some research, I discovered that image modification had become a major part of social media, where filters could create a new face for your selfies. I had certainly read of celebrities photoshopping their images to change parts of their body, but this was much more.

Filters are a whole different world. A City University study found that 90% of women between the ages of 18 and 30 put their photos through filters before posting them. They state that they feel a need to conform.

Thanks to AI, the latest filter on Tik Tok is called Bold Glamour and can make you look like a film star in seconds. Gone are the blemishes, the uneven skin tone, the creases around the eyes and so on. This latest tool even produces the effect in 3D.

But I come back to that comment on needing to conform. How have we got to a position where a computer-based system, regardless of how clever it is, can decide what we all look like? What has happened to our society such that the adage ‘the camera never lies’ is no longer true; and who are we really looking at when we see someone on social media?

But I am much more concerned about the title of this blog. I have always enjoyed working with exciting entrepreneurs whose main attribute was their ability to think and act differently. If social media is creating a set of young people who are driven by the need to conform, can we really depend on the 10% that don’t filter their images to find our entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, while this may all seem harmless if the young people stay in their social media bubble, at some point they will need to come out into the real world, and a filter, how ever clever, cannot cure your image dysphoria when faced with real people.

There is no doubt that there are plenty of ways that AI can benefit from society, but the increased sophistication of filters is not one of them. We worry that apps like Tik Tok may pass government secrets to China, although they probably have them already. We should be much more worried about the effect such apps are making our young people think they need to conform.

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