Why Do Some People Think That the World Is Flat and What Has This Got to Do with Real Estate?

The Social Dilemma By Netflix. This Movie Might Freak Some Of You Out. Source: Netflix

We are living in rather interesting times. While major advancements in science and technology are happening at a neck-breaking speed, some still think that the earth is flat. We are not talking about a few individuals who are trapped on a remote island with no access to civilization. These individuals are members of our society who are eating, breathing, and living with us. In fact, there is even a flat earth society with a membership numbering 24,000 on Facebook. At one point in time, even high-profile basketballers such as Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics believe that the earth was flat (he has since apologised). So why on earth (pun intended) do people think this way?

The Social Dilemma. The Main Reason Why We Can Become Trapped In An Information Bubble

Well, if you have not watched the movie “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, I would suggest that you go and watch it right now. Otherwise, I will be proceeding with major spoilers from the show. You have been warned.

The belief that the earth is flat has been around for a long time. Why? Simply because our ancestors were all standing on flat land. No one had travelled far and wide to enough to determine otherwise. However, in 3rd BC, Hellenistic astronomy established the Earth is round as a physical fact, and we could even measure its circumference. In addition to this theory, the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, managed to circumnavigate the entire world. Proving that you will not drop off the edge because the Earth is not flat!

Despite facts, there will always be conspiracy theorists who do not subscribe to these truths. To them, whatever they believe is correct and everyone else is wrong. With the advent of the internet, conspiracy theorists are now able to reach out to a larger audience and influence others with their beliefs. Although they can reach more people at once, they are not the main driving force that is making more people wear tinfoil hats. Shockingly, it is the business model of social media that is doing so. Sounds confusing? Let me explain.

Detailed Map Of The Flat Earth By Orlando Ferguson – The History Blog, actually Library of Congress 2011594831, G3201.A67 1893 .F4, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15853213

Business Model Of Social Media Companies May Not Be Aligned To Show The Truth

First, you must understand the business model of these social media companies. These corporations allow you to use their services for free without charging a single cent. All you need to do is to tolerate a couple of ads, and essentially both parties benefit right?

Well, not exactly. You see, to obtain a higher revenue, you must stay on the platform as long as possible. Besides, there are algorithms in place to understand your consumption behaviour to learn what you like and do not like over a period of time. The longer you spend on the platform, the more valuable your information becomes to the advertisers. In turn, the network can charge a higher premium which allows advertisers to craft phenomenally successful marketing campaigns.

Conflict Of Interest Between What Is Good For You And What Is Good For Advertisers

In the pursuit of advertising dollars, social media companies will do whatever it takes for you to engage their platform for as long as possible. Let us assume you have a friend who plays basketball on Facebook and forward you a link of Kyrie Irving discussing whether the Earth is flat. Being curious, you decide to click on the link to find out more. What happens next is that the algorithm knows you love content like these and will continue to recommend other similar content. Once you click on one link after another, that is how you end up in the rabbit hole, without even knowing so.

By the time you realise what is happening, you are surrounded by a bubble of information (or disinformation) and have serious considerations if the Earth is round in the first place. Now, instead of the belief that “the world is flat”, replace it with “5G causes coronavirus”, “vaccine causes autism” and “coronavirus is a hoax”, and you will realize why certain individuals behave the way they are.

What Has Social Media got To Do With Singapore’s Real Estate Market?

Now, like the real estate market in Singapore, there are two types of individuals. One will tell you that it is a good time to buy now and another will tell you prices are going to crash further due to the pandemic. Depending on what you click on social media, you are highly likely going to end up in a bubble of information (or disinformation) that tells you what you want to hear.

The problem with this distortion is that it affects our decision-making skills which in turn will affect our long-term goals. For example, if you genuinely believe that the market will collapse 10 years ago, you would have never bought anything even until today. And most likely, you will still think prices are going to collapse any time soon. In fact, you would even think that the most recent sales figure at Penrose is untrue and developers are using the reissuing of options to prop up the numbers. (Fact check: The developer did not grant any reissue of options during balloting day.)

Whatever you think is true, it is important to see the other side of the coin to give you a complete perspective. Take the example of the emperor in The Emperor’s new clothes. This folktale is a classical case of how fake news and misinformation can deceive even the highest authority. Whenever you read sensational articles (like this one I have dissected), do not lap it up as truth. Rather, do your own diligence, look at all the numbers before you conclude your findings. Otherwise, there is a real possibility that you may end up as the emperor and a victim of misinformation. Until then, stay safe, do your homework and find the truth by looking at the facts from all angles!

Article contributed by Jerry Wong.

Jerry Wong is a realtor with Propnex Realty. He loves coffee, cookies and condos and has been in real estate for ten years. Most importantly, he loves connecting people to properties and gets enormous satisfaction when they acquire their dream home. Or making well-informed decisions that see their assets grow. Book a video call appointment and Jerry will share with you the following.

  1. How certain factors affect real estate prices. Why some condos can make a million dollars while others can lose that same million.
  2. Why timing is not the most important thing. Because some people can buy the same condo at the same time, but one end up making $100k to $200k while the other suffers losses of the same amount!
  3. Understanding your requirements and craft a solution for your real estate needs. Be it in the form of asset progression, tax planning, financial calculations, rentals, sales, etc.

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