Karl Marx wrote about “alienation of labor” — for example:
Alienation (Entfremdung) is the systemic result of living in a socially stratified society, because being a mechanistic part of a social class alienates a person from his and her humanity. The theoretic basis of alienation within the capitalist mode of production is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine his or her life and destiny, when deprived of the right to think (conceive) of himself as the director of his actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define their relationship with other people; and to own the things and use the value of the goods and services, produced with their labour. Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realised human being, as an economic entity, he or she is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, in order to extract from the worker the maximum amount of surplus value, in the course of business competition among industrialists.
In my opinion, today we are experiencing a similar phenomenon — a sort of Alienation 2.0 — whereby our productive forces (primarily those which produce ideas) are acquired by organizations when people innocently agree to “terms of service” (“TOS”) whereby these organizations are permitted to use “user-generated” content (“UGC”, including ideas, artistic expressions and various other types of data).
As a result, more and more ideas are being stored in ever more “locked-up” databases of intellectual property, owned by ever fewer, ever larger, ever more private corporations… and ever less people are expressing their own ideas, in their own terms, by themselves, and therefore ever fewer people actually own their own expressions.
More and more people are becoming ever more mindless machinery — their ideas being carried off by ever more conveyor belts into ever deeper data structures, churned into an ever more homogenized mish mash, creating an ever more meaningless din of ever more frothing bubbly babble. This ever more noisy backdrop becomes an ever more overwhelming torrential flood drowning out any and all individual voices, except for those who are ready, willing and able to pay to play their messages in preferred, prioritized channels which float above and in front of the popular factory output.
The main reason why this is the case right now is that although we have undergone an information revolution, our education systems have not yet been reformed, and therefore the vast majority of young graduates lack the literacy skills required to be able to express their own ideas outside of the factory-based industrial ecosystem.