The Google Hell Pit Is Real; We Have To Find A Way Out

The elusive Matt Drudge's interview with Alex Jones was everything a Drudge fan could want and more. It had shared conspiracy theories, and it had biting critiques of today's media culture.

Even if you dismiss Matt Drudge as a right-wing hack, and Alex Jones as a black-helicopter nut, Matt Drudge was absolutely right when he said in the interview that we're, "playing in Google's hell pit," by our use of Facebook, Google, etc.

More and more, the media we consume, and therefore the information we receive, is controlled by algorithms we can't explain and whose purpose is to serve the companies that created them rather than us.

I write this with the full knowledge that I'm just as guilty as anyone in the way I consume it myself. 

Take the news you consume. Do you regularly check the major news sites and get a good idea of all of the stories they have available and choose what to read that way? Many of us certainly have our favorites, but how many of the articles you click on in a given day came from having them served to you in your Facebook news feed instead? Every time you click on a Facebook story, you've clicked on a link because an algorithm you don't understand served it to you, and then you gave the algorithm just a little more information about yourself.

Google is it's own story. Every search you conduct gives away another piece of information about you, and what you get back is what Google has decided for you to see. Name something, anything that you've searched for recently on Google. As for the search itself, even benign searches can add up to form a pretty scary personal profile of you. Then there are the results. Thousands upon thousands of web pages have been written on the subject you searched, but yet you likely clicked on the search results that came back on Google's first page, served by yet another algorithm that you don't understand.

This isn't to say that either company is doing something inherently wrong by doing what they are doing. It's in Facebook's interest to serve you with more of what they think you want to see. That keeps you visiting more often and seeing their ads more often. It's similar with Google, who's goal is to provide you with the most relevant search results, which keeps you coming back for more, and keeps you clicking on their ads.

But what if these companies aren't on the up and up, or don't always stay that way? What happens with your information then? And even if they are above board and always will be, what harm happens to our society when most of the information we get is simply what an algorithm thought we wanted to see?

Drudge's critique wasn't a critique of Google. It was a critique of us and our failure, more and more every day, to cultivate our own independent sources of information. 

He's right. It is a hell pit. Now we have to find a way out. 

Jason Griffin writes about business, media, politics & life. Keep up with unfiltered enlightenment and big ideas by liking on Facebookfollowing on Twitter, or subscribing with RSS.