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No, Really: Delete Your Accounts (Silicon Valley Pioneer Highlights Dangers of Social Media)
National Review ^ | 06/28/2018 | Heather Williams

Posted on 06/28/2018 8:52:41 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Imagine a world without social media. It’s easy if you try.

Well, scratch that: It’s actually not easy at all. Odds are, you’re kind of addicted to social media, whether you admit it or not. According to Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley virtual-reality pioneer and author of the new book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, that addiction might be eroding your soul.

We’ll get to the book, which is worth reading, in a moment. But before that, let’s try to imagine that world without social media, if only for sport.

Without social media, for instance, would the social train wreck surrounding the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va. — you know, the one that banished Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family this week — have devolved into the embarrassing conflagration it is today? Sure, various people acted like jerks, but people have occasionally acted like jerks since the beginning of time. But let’s imagine l’affaire Red Hen without “the fire and ire of social media,” as the Washington Post aptly put it. It’s rather enlightening.

Without social media, would we have seen a frenzied rash of vengeance-strewn over-the-top Yelp-bombings — often aimed at the wrong restaurant? Without social media, would a woman who has the poor luck of sharing the same name as the Red Hen’s owner watch her personal information get emblazoned all over the Internet, earning death threats in return? Without social media, would the saga have wildly pinged and ponged and flamed and finally escalated to the point where a man was arrested for pelting the Red Hen with manure?

As an aside, the act of pelting something with manure seems like a lose-lose situation, does it not? I mean, first, you have to actually gather the stuff, unless you have a long-suffering octogenarian butler who will reluctantly do it for you. Next, you have to transport the manure, which might befoul your rollerblades. Finally, in order to hurl the cow poo, you have to hold it in some way. Even if you’re wearing gloves or using a slingshot or utilizing one of those makeshift potato guns, you will probably get some of it on your hands. Then you might get traces of it in your eyes, which could lead to a raging case of conjunctivitis, which is an absolute nightmare for those of us who wear contact lenses, let me tell you.

The passionate hurling of manure, in short, is a degrading business. Now that I think about it, it might also serve as an excellent metaphor for social media.

Certainly, there are good things on social media: baby pictures, dog pictures, funny videos, goofy memes, and sponsored links where you can compulsively buy things like South Korean “miracle masks” or Gwyneth Paltrow’s entire nighttime skincare routine. (Hey-yo! Guilty as charged!) You might also be a completely “good” person on social media, which means you don’t blindly join empathy-free insta-mobs that regularly threaten to murder complete strangers. But in its own way, as Lanier points out in his book, social media has a way of bringing everyone down. It’s “the cage,” he writes, “that goes everywhere with you” — and if I might paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the doors are firmly locked from the inside.

Some of Lanier’s arguments might resonate more with certain readers more than others — I, for one, tend to view smartphones with far more suspicion than he does and believe they are addictive in their own right — but the overall arc of the book hits home. We the people are not the customers of social media, Lanier reminds us. We are the product. Moreover, he adds, “we’re all lab animals now,” acting as willing participants in a massive behavior-modification scheme. Lanier abbreviates this phenomenon as BUMMER: “Behavior of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent.” In short, your emotional swings and insecurities and general behavior patterns are subtly manipulated by social media, all ultimately translating into big data — and, of course, big money — for someone else.

What do social-media users get in return? Sure, there are vacation shots and wedding photos, which are nice. On the flipside, Lanier outlines how social media rewards jerky behavior, encourages mass jerkdom in the larger populace, corrupts journalism (“the more successful a writer is in this system, the less she knows what she’s writing”), corrodes empathy, encourages fakery, deprives arguments of context, distorts reality, spreads unhappiness, and on and on and on. According to a new report from Pew Research, four in ten Americans have “personally experienced online harassment.” If one were to narrow that survey to people who work in politics, you can bet the result would be a lot closer to ten in ten.

Deep down, most of us know social media has major downsides. But hey, let’s be honest, it’s hard to quit. In addition to its built-in rapid-fire dopamine-hit infrastructure, social media fills users with a latent fear of missing out. Having been on a Twitter strike for almost three months, I crept back on to “research” this column. I cannot tell a lie: On one hand, I felt like that character in the first Jurassic Park — played by Newman from Seinfield! — who gets hit in the face with a splash of blinding, poisonous dinosaur spit and runs around in agony yelling something akin to “MY EYES! MY EYES!” On the other hand, the siren song of Twitter — Scroll, click! Scroll, click! — came through loud and clear.

Those people in Silicon Valley aren’t dumb.

Anyway, I closed the browser, and I’m back on strike. Lanier isn’t completely without hope, by the way: Without users rebelling, he argues, what incentive will social networks have to change for the better? For those on the fence, or who aren’t entirely ready to press “delete,” he proposes that we meet him halfway: If you can’t manage to completely wipe out your social-media accounts, “do at least one thing: Detach from the behavior-modification empires for a while — six months, say?” Then, he argues, you’ll have more perspective with about your choices.

What do you have to lose? It won’t be easy; like many of us, you’re probably addicted. But that’s all the more reason to give it a try.


TOPICS: Computers/Internet; Society
KEYWORDS: socialmedia

1 posted on 06/28/2018 8:52:41 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

If you count FR as “social media” yes I use it a good bit — more read than post.

I have a silent FB account with almost no personal info on it to talk with my siblings.

Once in a blue moon I Disqus or tweet as FD2003.

If it all went away tomorrow I would miss FR and some similar sites but that is it. When I am not on my desktop/laptop I don’t use ANY social media. My tablet is for games like Angry Birds with no other people and my PDA is for work email and phone calls.

I don’t IM on any medium.


2 posted on 06/28/2018 8:57:31 AM PDT by freedumb2003 ("please pass the winnamins" (/Principled on 6/27/2018))
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To: SeekAndFind

Free Republic is currently the only social media that I participate in... other than leaving a few reviews and comments here and there.


3 posted on 06/28/2018 8:57:56 AM PDT by fireman15
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To: SeekAndFind

I have a great headstart!

No Twitter, No FB.

Only FR and a shadow of my portfolio. (not connected to actual account)


4 posted on 06/28/2018 8:58:22 AM PDT by G Larry (There is no great virtue in bargaining with the Devil)
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To: SeekAndFind

bookmark


5 posted on 06/28/2018 8:59:13 AM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t know. I couldn’t care less about “the social media”. I mean, I’m on Facebook but for me it’s mostly a more convenient way to message family and friends than email. Without Facebook, I’d just go back to email. Without email, I’d probably go back to using the phone and the post office more. Big deal.


6 posted on 06/28/2018 8:59:31 AM PDT by Jim 0216 (MAGA by restoring the Gospel of the Grace of Christ and our Free Constitutional Republic!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t have Twitter, but I don’t think President Trump needs National Review’s advice on whether or not to dump Twitter.


7 posted on 06/28/2018 9:00:12 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: SeekAndFind

FR is it for me. I don’t have an FB account nor am I on Linkedin which is a social network for professionals.


8 posted on 06/28/2018 9:01:32 AM PDT by SkyDancer ( ~ Just Consider Me A Random Fact Generator ~ Eat Sleep Fly Repeat ~)
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To: G Larry

And no Instagram, etc.


9 posted on 06/28/2018 9:02:06 AM PDT by bgill (CDC site, "We don't know how people are infected with Ebola.")
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To: SeekAndFind

I have never thought of Free Republic as a social media site. I think of it as an educational news site. I never touch social media sites.


10 posted on 06/28/2018 9:05:40 AM PDT by forgotten man
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To: SeekAndFind

Facebook is a news and information gatherer, where you select the sources of interest to you. Whether its international diplomacy or bicycle mechanics.

This is a good thing.

Using it to post pictures of yourself, er, uh, smoking cigars, is of questionable value.


11 posted on 06/28/2018 9:20:47 AM PDT by mbarker12474
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To: forgotten man

FR is a crowd sourced news site, where members of FR (the crowd) choose the stories.

Facebook is a crowd sourced news site, where the news sources (the crowd) supply the news options and the end-user chooses the pulls.

Both methods are necessary and valuable to stay well-informed.

Facebook is the mechanism for news and information that you cannot easily find and pull via other means, as the news sources themselves place their content (or pointers to content) on Facebook itself.


12 posted on 06/28/2018 9:25:25 AM PDT by mbarker12474
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To: SeekAndFind

“would the social train wreck surrounding the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va. — you know, the one that banished Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family this week — have devolved into the embarrassing conflagration it is today?”

I’m not embarrassed. I’m happy she got toasted and got exposed for being Streep’s sister, living with a pedophile, and for pursuing Sarah down the street to the next restaurant.

There are a million reasons to leave social media. But this article is simply upset that their blowtorch got turned around on the leftists.


13 posted on 06/28/2018 10:04:18 AM PDT by DesertRhino (Dog is man's best friend, and moslems hate dogs. Add that up. ....)
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To: freedumb2003

Social media is very retarded. But the Luddite approach to the world is very lame. I kinda enjoy having all the knowledge of mankind in my hand in a box the size of a deck of playing cards.

The wife of one of my friends is one of those “everyone put your phones in the middle of the table” types. And I’m more like, “be more interesting than my phone”.


14 posted on 06/28/2018 10:09:28 AM PDT by DesertRhino (Dog is man's best friend, and moslems hate dogs. Add that up. ....)
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To: Jim 0216

“I’m on Facebook but for me it’s mostly a more convenient way to message family and friends than email. Without Facebook, I’d just go back to email. Without email, I’d probably go back to using the phone and the post office more. Big deal.”

Elegantly stated.


15 posted on 06/28/2018 10:10:29 AM PDT by DesertRhino (Dog is man's best friend, and moslems hate dogs. Add that up. ....)
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To: freedumb2003
FR.

And Twitter to read the President's tweets, and one other person's. I used to access the President's tweets directly through a browser shortcut. However, I would always get a recommendation to add BO, HRC, and CNN or NYT to my feed -- no kidding. In my own account I blocked them, and now I get Fox, a Trump kid, and Sarah Sanders. I NEVER got them when using Twitter anonymously. What bias!!

I should set up LinkedIn for professional reasons, but have put it off for years.

16 posted on 06/28/2018 1:09:29 PM PDT by The Truth Will Make You Free
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To: DesertRhino

>>But the Luddite approach to the world is very lame. <<

Not a Luddite, I just find my time is better spent in RL than staring at a device. I think people who would rather die than not have social media are sub-human eternal infants.

I use social media but only for information — FR is all the entertainment I need to post.


17 posted on 06/28/2018 2:06:40 PM PDT by freedumb2003 ("please pass the winnamins" (/Principled on 6/27/2018))
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