The more choice and freedom people have, the greater their wellbeing. Freedom and choice are related in that when people have been given a choice they have the freedom. People cannot make choices when they do not have the freedom to do so. However, people may have options that they cannot choose from and are forced to make certain decisions since their freedom is limited. In his discussion of Facebook, Franklin Foer questions the freedom of speech in social media, particularly Facebook. Similarly, Tolentino doubts the level of freedom that women have within the patriarchal system. It clear from the readings by the two authors that freedom is defined by the source that determine the choices made. If the choices made originate from sources that dictate what to choose, then freedom is limited. Facebook and the patriarchal system do not offer people choice and freedom, but in reality, they dictate what they choose and thus no freedom.
People in Facebook are manipulated by the company what to believe and how to react to it, the same as women in the patriarchal system are manipulated on what is ideal for them. In both cases, people are denied the freedom to choose how they express themselves. Facebook is watchfully managed for users. It imitates some of the conversational patterns; “it is a tangle of rules and procedures for sorting information and rules devised by corporation for ultimate benefit of the corporation” (Foer 104). Facebook uses constant survey and auditing of its users, as well as using them for behavioral experiments (Foer 104). Whereas it makes people believe that it gives users a freedom of expression, Facebook paternalistically pushes them in the direction that it believes suits them. That is also the way that thoroughly addicts users.
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Users, therefore, do not have the freedom to choose what direction to take in their use. In the same way, the ideal woman chooses things based on the system’s definition of ideal. Photoshop is used in magazine covers and ads, which while it exposes the dishonesty and artificiality of the modern standard of beauty, it shows sufficient powerful, lasting desire for “true” beauty that it emptied space for ever-heightened hopes (Tolentino 64). Therefore, the society and the system have defined what beauty is and how good it is. Therefore, women strive to achieve beauty as it is demonstrated in the media and as they think is expected by society. Tolentino (78) states “I Like trying to look good, but it is hard to say how much you can genuinely, independently like what amounts to mandate.” That indicates that women lack independence in making their choice on what they believe is “real” beauty. Instead, women have to follow what has already been accepted as good.
In both face Facebook and in patriarchal systems the rules are made that influence people to make specific intended choices. In Facebook, company engineers manage the system top-down. The company engineers use algorithms to manage the website. Foer (113) argues that the algorithm used by Facebook engineers “interprets more than one hundred thousand signals, to makes its decisions about what users see.” Facebook determines what users should read. Foer (113) argues that the algorithms of the company sort out the thousands of items that Facebook users can perhaps see down a small batch of things of choice. It is within such few things that it settles on what users may want to see first. Most Facebook users are not aware of the existence of algorithms; however, even if Facebook users were aware of algorithms influence on them that would not alter their behavior.
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The users respond based on the manipulation of the algorithm. For women, husbands and boyfriends are at the core of manipulating their choices. As it is claimed by Tolentino (63), “she has a personal brand, and probably a boyfriend or husband: he is the physical realization of her constant, unseen audience, reaffirming her status as an interesting subject, a worthy object, a self-generating spectacle with a viewership attached.” The patriarchal system reason has ruled that women should attain ever-higher beauty intensities to make-up that they do not depend on men any longer (Tolentino (63). While before women were only housekeepers occupied with domestic work, today they are occupied with beauty work, using most of their time and money following a standard over which they cannot control. They do not have the freedom to choose how they look. Instead, they have to meet a standard set by their men. Engineers and men by studying the psychology of the people, they have formulated rules that determine direction of action taken.
People have come to the realization that there is no freedom when they do not have a choice, yet they are already trapped. Facebook users’ actions are manipulated by the engineers of algorithms. However, they still use Facebook giving the company an opportunity to conduct experiments on how to manipulate users. In fact, “there is no doubt of the psychological and emotional power possessed by Facebook-at least Facebook does not doubt it” (Foer 113). Engineers are aware of the dials to twist and to what extent. Facebook uses data science, and discipline to direct the inscription and the amendment of its algorithms. It has thus become boastful of its experimentation than the detail of its experiments. Most of the company’s experiments add up, and it holds that it has opened the psychology of users and attained a detailed knowledge of users more than themselves have” (Foer 113).
The engineers are thus sure that although people may be aware of their lack of choice and freedom they enjoy the options they give them after studying their social and psychological behaviors. For women, the patriarchal system has made them think that beauty is “a legitimate and necessary qualification for a woman’s rise in power” (Tolentino 80). Tolentino 80) claims that women have also been made to ignore the standards of beauty confidence on discrimination and chance, and instead, believe it as subject to entrepreneurship and hard work. They have also been made to believe that beauty requirements would rise as she gained power. They thus strive to attain more beuty as they rise in power. However, her personal development does not free her from needing beauty. On the contrary, success has chained her to her beauty, to physical self-consciousness, and she is willing to sacrifice even more. Facebook users and women are already trapped in the rules and control of engineers and the system.
In all this, people are yet to receive freedom and choice and it is expected to become worse. In the word of social media, the world is still in its earliest revolution days. As Foer (114) states, Facebook will never acknowledge “algorithms are meant to erode free will, to relieve humans of the burden of choosing, to nudge them in the right direction.” As Facebook continues with its experiments, it is going to take away more freedom of choice of humans even when they are not aware of it. Tolentino (80) observes that “mainstream feminism has had to conform to patriarchy and capitalism to become mainstream in the first place.” Instead of the old women’s necessities being deposed, they are renamed. Beauty has been branded as “self-care” and watching weight is not made to look as a way of being healthy for them to sound progressive (Tolentino 80). Women have thus been eating clean and fasting, as well as making changes in their lifestyle to attain healthy body goals. Therefore, as women become aware of their choices they are losing their freedom of choice. Freedom and choice are thus not about to be realized but people are getting away from them.
Human choices originate from sources that can control their minds to dictate their choices limiting their freedom. Facebook and the patriarchal system control the minds of Facebook users and women who are trapped in their thinking. Facebook use algorithms to study the behavior of its users and determine their actions. Women definition of beauty is defined by the patriarchal system by manipulating their minds on the definition and standards of beauty. Although people are becoming aware of their lack of freedom of choice they are manipulated further such that they cannot liberate themselves. Instead, they find more reasons to continue with their actions.
Foer, Franklin. World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, 2017. Print.
Tolentino, Jia. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, 2020. Print.