Virtual Dictatorships and Plutocracies -- How Humanity is Being Shaped
Updated: Feb 3
(EDIT: For the matter of this article, a Plutocracy is a space/community dominated by its richest members. A Virtual Dictatorship is a virtual space/product owned by a non-elected owner. An "E-dictator" is the non-elected owner/ruler of a virtual dictatorship. Not to be confused with digital authoritarianism, which defines ways to oppress and diminish actual democracies).
The internet has become such a crucial part of our lives that we no longer live within the walls of only a few regimes, such as the democracy of a country or the dictatorship of an employer. Instead, we live under much more social frameworks that we either accept as granted or object to through protest, such as the community guidelines of sites like Facebook and Twitter. Deem it as the rise of the universal culture.
In other words, much of our lives are basically contained within "e-dictatorships" that we didn't ask for nor elected, even though much of our private data and ability to express ourselves is in their hands. This is because, technically, all the sites and apps we use are not equivalent to countries we live in, but merely products that operate like dictatorships.
In other words, CEOs of social networks, given that they own these platforms, are virtual dictators that we register to in exchange for the services they allow. However, these services, as mentioned, compromise our right for privacy, and like with any other business, do not allow us to elect their leaders. Our registry gives them power in the form of traffic that can be converted to monetary gain. And in some cases, the data that is being collected from us, can be sold to third parties. This means that social media platforms are essentially surviellance states, installed on our devices, made to monitor and influence us in the name of generating profit.
And yes, the online world can largely influence us and our decisions. Platforms may personalized our social media feeds in order to satisfy us. That, in turn, can enhance fake news and increase our biases. Without our knowledge, these virtual dictatorships can polarize the thoughts and opinions of entire populations.
Therefore, the responsibility of power "e-dictators" have, is placed on us rather than on them. It is placed on our consent to consume their products, and even to create accounts there. This is done in the form of policies and terms of service that we "agree" to (by whatever means), leaving us to operate in an allegedly-liberated virtual world governed by mega-corporations and their various products, to which we dedicate much of ourselves.
The idea of a virtual dictatorship has not been left untouched in the field of video games either, but not necessarily in the form of corporations letting you deal with the consequences of your actions. Instead of pseudo-free products, many video games today have become a plutocracy, where those who pay the most money become the strongest foe in an online game.
This encourages the plutocratic idea that revenue leads to greater power in the minds of the youth, and can, in theory, lead to the next generations of greedy plutocrats. Virtual or otherwise. While this can encourage people to increase their own revenue to pay for these nonesensical investments, it also encourages them to just live with their parents and play games all the time instead of doing anything else.
Either way, the original form of democracy might be fading away in the future, because of the ability of the wealthy to feed on the addictions of the less wealthy. This can gradually lead to a traditional sense of a plutocracy, AKA, the regime of the rich, embedded in contemporary features. In fact, some may argue that the United States is already a plutocracy.
Even if you can vote for your political leaders, you cannot vote who is going to be the next CEO of any of the apps you're using. Being a user of a website or a platform does not grant you civil rights within their jurisdiction. No. Financially, you're either a potential customer, a utilized content creator or a private information provider for them to potentially sell.
Unfortunately, even in a more benevolent era, wealth remains the true source of supremacy, in many parts of the internet and outside the internet that is a true democracy. As such, plutocratic tendencies are natural developments in this economy-driven civilization. As such, with awareness or without, we have socio-economic biases towards people, and may judge them in accordance to their wealth.
However, take note that I do not imply communism by critcizing capitalism. I think the egalitarian attempt of communism for a happier, more just society has been an impractical failure. The world's only communist countries being China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba, are just a total of 5 countries in a world of hundreds of nations. It's possible to assume that if China wasn't open to the West like it is now, it would remain even poorer. No offense to the Chinese intended. International trade is just profitable far more than self-sufficent philosophies like the North Korean Juche.
A completely unopposed capitalistic world is problematic as well. If we want to maintain our liberties online, there must be a dialogue between bodies that balance between power and liberty, just as there are in many democracies and in, mostly, republics. You see, the virtual dictatorships of today are mostly independent of governmental regulations as they are privately-owned businesses. That excludes policies such as those. This means that the "e-dictators" are technically free to do as they please as long as they do not violate the few regulations they are confined to.
The problem with capitalism is that the freedom it grants can often become a recipe for the rich to gain more control, and the poor, to lose more power.
In contemporary gaming, senseless spending is like a "rule of the jungle," and your protests are likely to fall on deaf ears. That is what you also get when you are in a virtual dictatorship, built on the foundation of maximum monetary gain than anything else. You cannot change the rules of a social media platform just like you can't change the rules of an online game. No matter how invested you will be in either virtual plutocracies, you'll never have that kind of power. It's just like in an actual, physical tyranny.
This is the problem with greed: even if all you wish for is to make money, your justified desire can result in severe dissatisfaction by your customers, when a small minority of them hold much or most of the money you gain. They can appeal to you with their services, turn you into an addict, and profit from your addiction/s for the rest of their lives. It's that easy at least on paper.
This civilization is unequal by the very resource of wealth. Social classes nowadays are divided by wealth. You will either be respected or treated like dirt depending on your wealth. Your value in this materialistic society is largely determined by how much money you gain, have, and whether or not you hire people. Power tempts not only the power-bearer but also those around them. That can especially be true in dating. Having power is also how relevance is gained...
It is how I managed to get my revenge on a certain person I once loved...
My point is, if we wish to preserve democracy, a certain limitation of freedom to the most privileged should be implemented. It's not for the sake of short-term limitation, but for giving as much as possible a fair chance to everyone -- for the long term. And to do so without the significant difference or relevance of wealth, ethnicity, and so on.
Making lots of money isn't something most of us know or are capable of doing; why should we be punished for it? We still deserve to have opportunities in life just like those who can afford them more than us. It's part of the philosophy behind welfare.