HBO’s Westworld is a modern take on the Michael Crichton SciFi tale of a robotic amusement park. The HBO version has a new twist. The creators/writers were all exposed to years of Twitter, which has influenced every episode and the entire arch of two seasons of the show. Now that season two is wrapping up, it is clearer than ever that the entire series is a metaphor to what is happening in Twitter today.
- We can view the Westworld robots as representing those of us Twitter users who are being used. Some of us are getting fed up with being used and know there is more to Twitter than just putting up with the rage of others.
- We can view the Westworld guests as representing those that use abuse and troll other users on Twitter.
- We can view Delos corporation, the sneaky company that steals data on all guests, as Twitter Inc.
See what I mean? Here is more:
In the Westworld series, people can “live without limits” during their visits to the Westworld themepark. They can enter the park and pretend to be anyone. Guests in the park can lie, brag, gaslight, hate, protest, whine, complain, fight and do just about anything else. Guests can pretend to be the expert on anything any time. Guests can rage at anything any time. They are unconstrained by any social norms and can behave in any way they want with no fear of consequences.
See, isn’t that very much like Twitter today?
Both Twitter and the fictional Westworld themepark can change people. In the Westworld series, when William rages he starts to love it and it changes his personality to the point where he cares about nothing in the real world. He becomes the Man in Black.
The trolls raging all the time on Twitter are also being changed. Twitter is creating disconnected loners who find it easy to hate, not just on Twitter but in the real world. Twitter is messing up their lives. These newly created sociopaths are the Twitter misanthropes.
Think of these Twitter misanthropes when you watch Westworld. Clearly these sociopaths are the model for the Man In Black.
This means the Westworld SciFi series is more than just entertainment. It is a warning and an opportunity for us to think differently about how forces unleashed by companies like Twitter are changing society.
What do we do about this warning? Some of us might use this as just another excuse to rage on Twitter. But here is another idea: dedicate some time to learning more about how technology is impacting humanity and consider ways to shape policy for improving the way society leverages technology for good. This is easier said than done, but is a good goal, don’t you think?
As you think through ways to improve the world and mitigate the damage Twitter is causing to it, keep in mind that Twitter is also causing positive change and can be part of the solution to our challenges. This topic itself came out of a Twitter dialog with Adam Elkus and others. Seems like we can find ways to keep this positive dialog up via Twitter.
Twitter can turn normal people into disconnected loner misanthropes who find it easy to hate because it is not the real world. Like William Foster, the Man In Black of Westworld. https://t.co/NaHV1nvA8h
— Bob Gourley (@bobgourley) June 22, 2018
For more on this see: Does Technology Threaten the Future of Society
- An OODAcast Conversation with Dr. David Bray of the Atlantic Council Geotech Center (Part One) - April 3, 2020
- OODAcast– A Conversation with Dan Gerstein - April 1, 2020
- Update on The End Coronavirus Project and Need for Volunteers - March 28, 2020