AI will attempt to replicate the feeling of a crisp morning in a snowy drainage, but it will never be the same…right? (Photo by Jeff Lund)

AI will attempt to replicate the feeling of a crisp morning in a snowy drainage, but it will never be the same…right? (Photo by Jeff Lund)

I Went to the Woods: A new era

I asked the artist if he had Instagram.

“No, I’m from the Facebook era.” We both laughed. He looked it, but you can never tell. Modern marketing opportunities have made it almost negligent to take a stance against social media. If you’re a creator or business owner, you have to have one, so you can’t judge social media eras by the gray in his hair or the white in my beard.

I’d like to think I am from the Instagram Era, meaning that has been my most effective and most used app, but I cut my social media teeth on Facebook as it was the behemoth of the time. And, like everyone else who was old enough to embrace this new exciting way to connect with people, I didn’t have the energy to attempt to master more than one of the proceeding iterations of modern discourse. This is likely why I tried Snapchat and TikTok but deleted both. I dabbled in Twitter but found I wasn’t a proficient dunker which seemed to be the main point. Don’t create valuable content yourself, focus instead on “owning” the enemy. That’s how you get followers. Read part of something, find trigger words, ignore context, run it through your own filter and come to outrageous conclusions that would best play to your audience.

Anyway, that’s the rub with social media — what it can be vs. what it is.

I shared a link to my column in my Instagram story, inviting readers to engage. Done.

But now I scroll. Tyler got a sheep. Brandon got a moose. Cool. Everything is fine at this point, but the little red alert tells me Rick shared a reel. It’s either a motivational clip from a podcast or someone getting run over by their own trailer while trying to launch a boat. Neither. Dude making it halfway to the pool from the roof.

From there my algorithm pushes me gently into the soothing waves of never-ending clips — far from the shores of productivity. My intent was just to share a column. Recruit eyes to see what I took time and effort to create. Now, I’m adrift.

Learning how to effectively adopt social media can be difficult for creators as well as the casual user. While gurus preach meaningful daily posts, what ends up happening is a tsunami of distraction and wasted time.

But we knew all that.

While social media has disrupted, changed, perverted or otherwise revolutionized marketing (not to mention social connection and content creation) AI will do the same in ways we can’t yet comprehend.

It will disrupt jobs and make certain careers and jobs obsolete. It will be used to undermine our own ability to use language and creatively express ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we should hold on to the past and resist. If anything, the necessity to embrace and effectively utilize AI will be way more important than finally deciding to get on TikTok.

The problem, as it is with social media, is being able to discern responsible use from avoidance or dependence. Individual creativity is the source of innovation. Questions through experience drive improvements to our society, not compilations of information packaged into responses created by intelligence that is unable to reason, or escaping into a reality replacement.

Still, an unfortunate reality is we have been robbed of someone’s innovation and creativity because the detrimental elements of social media were too much. Someone who would have ended up doing something brilliant in our lives was derailed by the temptation of distraction or a confidence-crippling bombardment of negativity.

The same will happen with AI if we are not careful.

A new era is here.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

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