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Starlink internet brings TikTok and porn addiction to Amazon tribe

Starlink’s internet in Amazon tribe leads to cultural clash, with young members addicted to TikTok and porn.

People using smartphones in outdoor wooden shelter.
Image: New York Times

When Elon Musk’s Starlink beamed the internet into the heart of the Amazon, the Marubo tribe was over the moon.

Nine months in, they’ve gone from handling snake bites with ease to battling TikTok and porn addictions, reports the New York Times

What was supposed to be a lifeline for emergencies has turned into a digital quagmire of addiction.

Tradition Meets TikTok and a Torrent of Porn

The Marubo tribe, once the epitome of cultural conservatism, is now knee-deep in a digital culture clash. Young members, who’ve swapped their traditional ways for viral TikTok dances and porn, are freaking out the elders.

Per the New York Times:

“Young men were sharing explicit videos in group chats, a stunning development for a culture that frowns on kissing in public. “We’re worried young people are going to want to try it,” he said of the graphic sex depicted in the videos. He said some leaders had told him they had already observed more aggressive sexual behavior from young men.”

What’s next? Concerns are skyrocketing that the internet might be turning the youth into lazy, aggressive replicas of a Black Mirror episode.

Digital Detox or Digital Denial?

In a bid to regain control, tribal leaders have rolled out some tough love—internet access is now limited to two hours in the morning, five in the evening, and free for all on Sundays.

The plan? To lure the kids away from their screens and back into the wild, reconnecting with their roots. But is this a losing battle now that the digital genie is out of the bottle?

Cultural Erosion: The Real Fear

Elder Alfredo Marubo’s reports: A front-row seat to a disturbing change: violent and inappropriate behavior influenced by online filth.

Tsainama Marubo is equally worried, seeing complacency replace the tribe’s hustle. The fear is real—could these online antics tear apart the cultural fabric that’s held them together for centuries?

Learning from the Digital Survivors

It’s not all doom and gloom. Other tribes have turned the internet into a cultural lifeline, documenting age-old traditions for the world to see.

Flora Dutra, an advocate for online connectivity, believes that, like any big shift, the internet just needs time. In the right hands, it might even supercharge traditional life.

The Marubo tribe’s plunge into the digital deep end is a wake-up call for us all. It just goes to show that tech companies design these apps and platforms to benefit their institutions and bottom lines.

They want you to be glued to your device. They want you to spend every waking moment engaging with their toy. I mean, they’ve been doing it for years now. I suggest reading this from Ed Zitron over at the Where’s Your Ed At newsletter.

As for the Marubo tribe, I fear that it’s already too late. They’ve already gotten a whiff and taste for social engagement; I don’t see anyone coming back from that. This is what kills in the end. It’s our craving for social validation and meaningless interactions on social media that’s going to do us in. 

Do you think the Marubo tribe can find a balance with technology? Or is it already too late? Share your opinions below, or weigh in on Twitter or Facebook.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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