Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media examines a very modern malady: how click culture is steering human progress down a blind alley.
The concern that wafts through Ten Arguments isn’t new. The Luddites gave voice to it when machines mechanised human labour during the industrial revolution.
Much later, films including WarGames and Terminator 2 explored the inevitability of AI, and how it might destroy human existence.
Ten Arguments falls somewhere in between. Lanier calls the internet an amazing tool, but social media – in its current form – is a poison.
Two things make social media an effective tool of abuse. Its pervasiveness, and its use of algorithms to spy on and manipulate behaviour.
“Just in the last five or ten tears, nearly everyone started to carry a little device called a smartphone on their person all the time that’s suitable for algorithmic behavior modification.”Ten Arguments
Lanier demonstrates the less wholesome consequences baked into social media platforms. These include addiction, depression, feeling disconnected from the real world, and extremist or conspiracy thinking.
And as if that weren’t enough bully for your buck, algorithms and bad players mine the fallout to hijack elections, capture your data and sell you things you don’t need.
In a few short years, we’ve not only welcomed social media into our lives, but opened a door to data harvesting – yet many of us don’t realise what this entails for our mental health or privacy.
What’s the book like?
Lanier’s book delivers what it promises: 10 compelling reasons to stop using social media.
Even if you have no intention of ditching digital, this is a short, pacey read with fascinating insights from the tech sphere.
For instance, Lanier – formerly of Atari and Microsoft – writes: “most of the Silicon Valley kids I know attend Waldorf schools, which generally forbid electronics.”
In other words, the people making the tools that control your waking hours don’t want their kids using it. You’ve got to wonder why.
Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, by Jaron Lanier (2018)
Quoted edition published by Vintage, 2019
What to read next
- The Machine Stops (1909 short story that predicted our internet addiction)
- The Dark Net, by Jamie Bartlett (older but very readable account of the dark web)
- The Chimp Paradox (self improvement)
- Factfulness (the opposing view that human progress is getting better)
- Bounce (productivity, self improvement)
Picture credit: Gerd Altmann