If a god is defined as a type of superhuman being with power over nature or fortune, I propose we define a digital god as a controlling influence in our current society including media and other sources. I am using the term god in lower case, not referring to the almighty God of Christianity. We can see the manifestation of this digital god in many areas of today’s world.
Controlling influences of social media, press and politics cause many to worship this digital god. Others are greatly swayed by questionable sources and influencers. With the increasing toxicity of the political climate in the past years, many turned off network news. However, the continual updates on internet sources and the growing influence of AI is creating an even greater influence from those sources. As we dive deeper into their effect, we will look control, success and trust. We will then give some clues on how to leverage the consequences of this digital god that permeates our society and lives.
Control: Who or What is Controlling You?
Overall, digital content has had a profound impact on everyday living, shaping the way we access information, communicate, entertain ourselves, learn and work. It especially controls the way many people think. Digital access is growing exponentially with tools of AI, such as ChatGPT. Even though there are tremendous upsides, there are also potential downsides. Addiction, cyberbullying and online harassment are a few traps many fall into with the access and spread of online content. Also, when a message is repeated multiple times, a greater number of people accept it as reality and truth, even if it is untrue or misleading.
The guiding force in our life usually controls the way we think. Our mindset and thoughts control our actions. Ralph Waldo Emmerson (1803-1882) said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” This has been a message not only taught in many ethics courses, but also proclaimed from pulpits.
Much of what controls our lives depends on our core values. In the chapter on Core Values I wrote in the appendix of the book Stop Circling, I stress the importance of taking the time to thoroughly define our core values as they ultimately determine our purpose and direction. Our values are a guide for our focus in life, and whether we adapt a mindset of stress, fear and anxiety or confidence and assuredness. In very practical terms, those values determine what rules our life, how we spend our time, what grabs our attention and how we spend money. Either we control our values or our values control us. It’s a choice we all make.
Success: How do You Measure Success?
“Am I successful?” That is a question I have periodically asked myself. It’s so easy to get into the comparison game and feel unworthy and unsuccessful. Imposter Syndrome is a term widely thrown around in many circles. But with evaluation, I review not only what I have created and accomplished, but also the type of lifestyle I’ve crafted.
Comparison to others and their touted success is a huge deterrent in building confidence and security for our place in the world. Life as an influencer looks idyllic, glamourous and fun. But the reality, according to the Boston Globe, is that the work of being an influencer is incredibly difficult and mentally taxing. Creating interesting content, making money and taking care to not alienate their brands or followers creates a lot of pressure. Still, there are those that tout this type of life as a goal and image of success. It may look easy at the outset, but according to mega-Influencers, the Kardashians, few are willing to put in the amount of work it takes to be an influencer.
Revisiting goals, both short-term and long-term, and staying focused with consistency brings more than success. It brings peace of mind and contentedness, which is of great value. Take the time to realistically evaluate strengths and competency. Go through the Core Common Denominator® in chapter four of the book Women at Halftime. If one aims for a career as a gymnast and can’t touch their toes, they should choose another career! This sounds very logical, but it’s a good reminder to be real, be sensible, yet be willing to take calculated risks and work hard.
Trust: In What or Whom do you Put Your Trust?
According to Fortune Magazine referring to a survey by Gallup, trust in media is so low that half of Americans believe that news organizations deliberately misled them. Many of us used to get most of our news from printed newspapers or the nightly news, but now it’s blasted 24/7 on social media and multiple news stations and talk radio. We can check for updates day and night.
We can listen to one host, then switch to another and get a totally different slant on an event. This is not only confusing but does not build trust in either source. Who can we believe and what are the real facts? There was so many mixed messages and mandates during the pandemic that there were those that turned to an almighty God for guidance and direction. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a surprising surge of faith among young people in Gen Z, age 18-25. This in part is attributed to an unexpected response to the pandemic. We will see if this sticks and what the outcome of this surge becomes in the coming years.
Faith in a higher power or supreme being is different than putting faith in a digital god and it’s healthy. It takes focus off the hourly updates with some new crisis occurring multiple times every day. It’s interesting that a younger generation is starting to see through the chaos.
Next Steps of Action
No matter what we decide for our next steps, I believe an acknowledgement that there is a digital god as a controlling influence in our current society that includes media and sources of influence is important. I propose we periodically evaluate our source of control, measure of success and level of trust we are experiencing in our lives and business. Also, with how it all influences our thinking and values.
The growth of AI is exciting but it is still ultimately controlled by human intellect and minds, at least at this point. Using common sense, doing our homework in making decisions and checking sources should always be a part of our next steps. Here are three action steps of action:
One: Define our Core Values (click here for free download)
Two: Revisit Goals: Both short-term and long-term (click here for free download)
Three: Focus on a power bigger than ourselves
We can see the manifestation of this digital god in many areas of today’s world including social media, press, politics and AI.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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