Technology has always been a Uranian free-for-all; from the internet as a complete entity itself, to social media platforms, to the data being collected by apps and devices, it’s the wild wild west and always has been. Technology evolves faster than regulations – and dinosaur politicians – can keep up, and this isn’t a good thing when you have things like, say, a violent insurrection attempt to overthrow your government organizing/mobilizing on the likes of Parler, world leaders allowed to influence elections on Facebook, and our smartphones and apps collecting and selling vast troves of user data unchecked. One of the main things Saturn does is test things for integrity – it pressurizes a situation and makes the stakes high while calling for the implementation of rules, codes of conduct/ethics, standards, laws, etc. Saturn is always a regulatory influence whenever something needs dat ass checked; it is the Cosmic PoPo, if you will. Do the right thing or face the consequences – it’s your choice, but fail to do so and there will be penalties enforced – nobody escapes Saturn’s karmic wheel; whether you pay in this lifetime, the next, or the hereafter, you will pay. This is why its principles of self-regulation are so crucially important to learn – if we check ourselves, we will never need to externalize/outsource this to somebody else.
Now when Saturn resides community-minded Aquarius, communities – online and off – are called to police themselves; particularly against rogue elements not acting in accordance with the collective value system when this planet squares Uranus in Taurus. Uranus is also extremely technology oriented, and perhaps when we have people like Apple’s Tim Cook – a high-profile leader in the technology sector (Saturn in Aquarius) – chastising the industry status quo and calling for reform at a recent speech at the end of January, the time has come:
“Technology does not need vast troves of personal data stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it, and we’re here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom. If a business is built on misleading users on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform. We should not look away from the bigger picture. In a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement, the longer the better, and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible. Too many are still asking the question ‘How much can we get away with?’ when they need to be asking ‘What are the consequences?’
“What are the consequences of prioritizing conspiracy theories and violent incitement simply because of the high rates of engagement? What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations? What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users joining extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more? It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t come with a cost. A polarization of lost trust, and yes, of violence. A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe.”
Regardless of what one thinks of Apple or of Mr. Cook, Tim is making a very timely point with this speech. We also have platforms like Twitter and Facebook – way past a day late and a dollar short for sure – finally de-platforming the likes of Donald Trump et al; people who blatantly use social media for all the wrong ends/reasons. I will bet you that Facebook’s & Twitter’s decisions to do this hinge not on the rightness or wrongness of the action, but of the potential financial and legal liability/repercussions for them to continue to allow it. With Uranus in Taurus, change is, more often than not, all about the moo-lah. Those citing freedom of speech concerns should know by now this only applies to government censorship; it does not apply to private citizens or companies – the First Amendment cannot be used as both a sword (to say whatever I want, however I want) and a cowards’ shield against social accountability. You are free to express your views, however if someone doesn’t like them and tells you to GFY, your free speech rights are not being violated. If you advocate violence against those of Asian descent and you get banned from an online community/platform, or fired from your job as a consequence, suck it up, Buttercup. You can hold whatever wrong views you like, but others are not required to condone, uphold, or host while you spout off and possibly incite others.
We see how this square affects things on a macro level, but what about on an individual level? This is a prudent time to be evaluating – and re-evaluating – how we’ve been using technology; including the internet as a whole. Is it a time-saver or a time-waster? Could we benefit from cutting back? Is it keeping us connected to others, or is it locking us into communities that have problematic social dynamics? Is it something that genuinely facilitates progress both socially in business, or are we capitalizing on the image of “wokeness” by merely virtue-signaling to a larger audience? Are we using technology to create stronger, more unified communities or shrinking/fracturing society by excluding – or worse, radicalizing – people? Do we have a sense of personal ethics/ a code of conduct on the internet and social media, or do we demonstrate poorly socialized online behaviors? This isn’t the 90’s anymore – times have changed and the internet has been around long enough for us to know that our virtual conduct needs to evolve beyond the adolescent stage. What we’ve steadily been seeing, however (particularly in more recent times), is a collective devolution largely due our over-reliance on technologies and – more specifically – technology companies that really don’t have humanity’s best interests in mind or heart. Ponder this for a bit while you’re deciding how much control you want technology to have over you.