I recently read an interesting book called “Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy”, by Jeff Chester. Jeff Chester is the director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington D.C. based non-profit dedicated to encouraging democratic expression in the digital media era. The book brought up various provocative points about the democracy in the new digital era. Chester expresses how we are being indirectly targeted by corporations and media companies who are trying to sell their products, and asks whether or not this is ethical.
We are led to believe that we have increased freedom as technology increases and the internet is becoming such a powerful force in our daily lives. However, with the growth of the internet, are we actually losing freedom? Thins such as the “AD-ID”, created by one of the many advertising associations, monitor our browsing habits and collect detailed information on us, allowing advertisers to target us more aggressively. Chester asks whether or not this is democratic, and makes it clear that in his opinion it is highly unethical and is slowly depleting democracy. I feel more of a moderate view towards the issue in that I feel that while advertisers are in some cases targeting audiences too aggressively, we still ultimately choose what persuades us.
I sincerely feel that regardless of how much an ad is forced onto my brain, if I am genuinely uninterested in the product or unimpressed by the ad, I am not going to buy the product. Advertising and marketing are meant to persuade and used to position a product in a way that makes it desirable, but they are not capable of brainwashing consumers. I ultimately felt that while he did present some interesting views and raise some interesting questions, many of the points were more radical than my personal beliefs on the subject matter. However, I still felt that the book was a good read for anyone interested in the effects that the increased use of internet and digital advertising is having on consumers and society.