Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
'A blisteringly good, urgent, essential read' ZADIE SMITHJaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer and 'high-tech genius' (Sunday Times) who first alerted us to the dangers of social media, explains why its toxic effects are at the heart of its design, and explains in ten simple arguments why liberating yourself from its hold will transform your life and the world for the better.Social media is making us sadder, angrier, less empathetic, more fearful, more isolated and more tribal. In recent months it has become horribly clear that social media is not bringing us together – it is tearing us apart. In Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now Jaron Lanier draws on his insider's expertise to explain precisely how social media works – by deploying constant surveillance and subconscious manipulation of its users – and why its cruel and dangerous effects are at the heart of its current business model and design. As well as offering ten simple arguments for liberating yourself from its addictive hold, his witty and urgent manifesto outlines a vision for an alternative that provides all the benefits of social media without the harm.So, if you want a happier life, a more just and peaceful world, or merely the chance to think for yourself without being monitored and influenced by the richest corporations in history, then the best thing you can do, for now, is delete your social media accounts – right now. You will almost certainly become a calmer and possibly a nicer person in the process.

Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now Details

TitleTen Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 31st, 2018
PublisherBodley Head
ISBN-139781847925398
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Cultural, Social Science, Social Media

Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now Review

  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    On Genies and BottlesIn 1956, the novelist and scientist, C. P. Snow wrote an article entitled The Two Cultures. The cultures he had in mind were science and the humanities. Each, he claimed, had its own specialised vocabulary, its own criteria for acceptable thought, and its own unspoken beliefs about ‘the way the world really is’. Communication between members of the two cultures were, he concluded, in such a parlous state that the fate of human society was threatened. Essentially he believed On Genies and BottlesIn 1956, the novelist and scientist, C. P. Snow wrote an article entitled The Two Cultures. The cultures he had in mind were science and the humanities. Each, he claimed, had its own specialised vocabulary, its own criteria for acceptable thought, and its own unspoken beliefs about ‘the way the world really is’. Communication between members of the two cultures were, he concluded, in such a parlous state that the fate of human society was threatened. Essentially he believed that the problems created by scientific and technological advance couldn’t make their way profitably into general, particularly political, discourse.Lanier’s little book is a confirmation of Snow’s thesis. Written by a computer scientist who is paid by Microsoft to think profound thoughts about the future, the book stinks. Lanier seems to have learned to write by editing copy for get-rich-quick schemes, never quite getting to any point he wants to make before teasing the reader with promises of secret and powerful truths. But when the reveal comes, the emperor still has all his clothes. The book is largely a collection of opinions and personal anecdotes, which are inadequate to even spark debate much less inform decisions. It is repetitive, badly edited, long-winded and stylistically puerile. Computer scientists, apparently, have a hard time communicating with the rest of us.Lanier doesn’t like the behavioural effects brought about by social media: addiction, trolling, vulnerability to bullies, identity theft, fake news, and inane competitiveness, etc. Anyone who has ever been on line, that is, most of us, is familiar with the catalogue of abuses. Lanier would like all of us to follow his example and dump our affection for Facebook, and Twitter, and Google (and presumably GoodReads) and go back to using modern communications and computer technology the way it should be used (avoiding what he calls BUMMERs - don’t ask, they aren’t well-defined). I won’t repeat the elements of his rant which bites the hand that feeds him. A parallel argument may serve to demonstrate the nonsensical futility of Lanier’s thinking:SELL YOUR AUTOMOBILE TO IMPROVE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE: The automobile is the bane of modern society. It’s invention and development is the cause of global physical degradation of the environment and increasing moral laxness. Besides, by having one you're only making Henry Ford and his cronies wealthier. Without the automobile, there would be no traffic accidents, no uninsured motorists, no need for automobile insurance at all. The elimination of the automobile would stop the uncontrolled growth of suburbs, improve substantially the quality of life in cities, and increase employment in the agricultural sector. Public transportation will become politically important once again. On a personal level, the sale of your car will promote walking and associated benefits like physical well-being and psychological relaxation. Road rage will be a thing of the past. Disposable income will rise dramatically.Who could argue with the logic? But then again who would act on it? I acquired the book because I have already exited most of my social accounts (except GR). I suppose I wanted confirmation that I did the right thing, that I was sensible and wasn’t simply reacting emotionally to Zuckerberg’s inane testimony in Congress and the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. I was terribly disappointed. I’m glad I got rid of FB, Twitter, and other minor apps; but if I hadn’t, Lanier wouldn’t have convinced me to do so. Social media shares much with religion - you either get it or you don’t. And reason has very little to do with conversion or apostasy in faith or technology. The old know this; the young don’t care; and those in between are too busy to worry about it. Somewhere in there, Lanier sees a market. Perhaps Snow got it wrong and there is a segment between science and the humanities that is attracted to bad writing and bad science. If so, Lanier has it nailed.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting manifesto about how social media is destroying our souls and our society, but unfortunately, this book isn't well-written. It's skimmable, at best.Here's a quick guide to Lanier's arguments:1. You are losing your free will.2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.3. Social media is making you into an asshole.4. Social media is undermining truth.5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.6. Social media is destroyi This is an interesting manifesto about how social media is destroying our souls and our society, but unfortunately, this book isn't well-written. It's skimmable, at best.Here's a quick guide to Lanier's arguments:1. You are losing your free will.2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.3. Social media is making you into an asshole.4. Social media is undermining truth.5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.7. Social media is making you unhappy.8. Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity.9. Social media is making politics impossible.10. Social media hates your soul.As someone who has already quit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I was prepared to read Lanier's argument with the passion of the newly converted. Some of his arguments ring true — especially how quickly we can behave like assholes on social media — but I didn't buy everything, and the poor writing made it more difficult to follow. Although this is a short book (146 pages) it felt dense and heavy. However, reading about the behavior modification that is happening because of addiction to our smartphones, I will continue to make efforts to PUT THE DAMN PHONE AWAY. Always a good goal.
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  • David Wineberg
    January 1, 1970
    Facebook, Google and The RaptureJaron Lanier wants to be known for his music and his appreciation of cats (He likes to say he is one). But where he is best known, and most useful, is in his appreciation of the internet. In You Are Not A Gadget (2010), he created a manifesto to free us from the clutches of the corporations installing their systems in our daily lives. Now, things are much worse. Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now is a more specific and desperate appeal Facebook, Google and The RaptureJaron Lanier wants to be known for his music and his appreciation of cats (He likes to say he is one). But where he is best known, and most useful, is in his appreciation of the internet. In You Are Not A Gadget (2010), he created a manifesto to free us from the clutches of the corporations installing their systems in our daily lives. Now, things are much worse. Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now is a more specific and desperate appeal. The social media corporates have improved their models to be far more intrusive and behavior-modifying than anything we have ever seen outside of fiction. They no longer even bother to sugar-coat it. They make billions from personal data, even if it’s just clicks. Their customers use it to change user behavior. Because it works.Lanier creates a new acronym, BUMMER, which stands for Behavior of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent. BUMMER reduces freedom, ends economic dignity and destroys souls. It is an inherently cruel con game, he says. “We have enshrined the belief that the only way to finance a connection between two people is through a third person who is paying to manipulate them.”Memes feed the BUMMER machine, spreading negativity and reinforcing artificial intelligence’s (AI) ability to digest anything humans create. Facebook and the others of its ilk are becoming the new ransomware of the internet, he says. He gives the example of Facebook offering whole onsite teams to both the Trump and Clinton campaigns in 2016. (Only Trump accepted.) Facebook is a gatekeeper to brains, and/or an existential mafia. Lanier says it is like paying indulgences to the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Every meme and trope sends the BUMMER AI machine creating new buckets to sort users, stereotype them, and sell the results to advertisers. It really doesn’t matter what users like or who they follow. Whatever they click adds to their demise as persons and adds to their value as targets.This is strong stuff, and Lanier’s easy text draws readers into a very dark tale. The ten arguments in a nutshell:1. You are losing your free will. If you don’t quit, "you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself".2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times. It’s more efficient at harming society than at improving it. Simply quitting can change the world.3. Social media is making you into an asshole. Lanier says Donald Trump is a victim of his own addiction to twitter (37,400 tweets). For the most powerful politician in the world, his behavior is no better than a teenaged troll. He is not alone.4. Social media is undermining truth. A twitter account called Blacktivist turns out to be owned and operated by the Russians. “They’re using our pain for their gain,” says Tawanda Jones, a real black activist. The twitter account @realJaronLanier isn’t. He has no account.5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.7. Social media is making you unhappy.8. Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity. This is the most jarring argument. Lanier says the free model everyone pushed for in the 80s and 90s gave rise to the ad model, and with it the ability to create uncountable millions of fake humans and their corresponding spam and troll activity.9. Social media is making politics impossible. “There are so few independent news sites, and they’re precious ... Our huge nation is only a few organizations away from having no independent newsrooms with resources and clout.“10. Social media hates your soul. Facebook’s statement of purpose now says it is “assuring“ that “every single person has a sense of purpose and community” to which Lanier adds “because it presumes that was lacking before. If that is not a new religion, I don’t know what is.” Google has funded a project to “solve death”, to which Lanier adds “I’m surprised the religions of the world didn’t serve Google with a copyright infringement takedown notice.” Google’s Ray Kurzweil’s stated purpose is to upload everyone’s consciousness to Google’s servers. His “Singularity” is AI’s answer to The Rapture, Lanier says.I don’t agree with everything Lanier writes. He spends a lot of time misapplying the solitary/pack switch. People act differently as solitary operators than they do in a pack (So do wolves, birds, and electrons). He narrows it to the point where he can apply it to social media: independent operators aren’t irrational trolls because they don’t follow pack rules and pack sheltering. In a pack, users can hide and be as obnoxious as they want, because nearly everyone is obnoxious at some point, and it is no longer outrageous. The solitary person is self-reliant, independent, and self-conscious. S/he can supposedly walk away from troll taunts and clickbait, and not contribute any either.He gives the false example of Linked In, which he considers the least corrupted social media service. But people on Linked In are the most packbound and cowed of all. They are all afraid to step out of line lest it wreck their career path. Everything everyone posts there is Pabulum.The pack, for better or for worse, is the condition of all mankind today because our numbers are too high to tolerate loners. We need traffic lights and everyone must obey them. We need sanitation facilities because we produce far more refuse than the planet can absorb. Noise ordinances kick in at 10PM. Loners are automatically suspect. Security defeats freedom. We have no choice but to bow to the pack.The book is a straight line descent from the friendly to the fiendish. It gets heavier and more worrying with every step. But the solution is always present, at least to Lanier. It’s the subscription model. If people have to pay, the fake people will disappear, fewer will sign up, services will become manageable and reliable, the quality of the discussion will improve and the overall value will skyrocket. Assumptions and generalizations about Homo sapiens will diminish and AI will have a harder time taking over.Good luck with that. Really. David Wineberg
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Since this is my final post here because I'll be deleting Goodreads (and Facebook) after this, I... Okay, just kidding. I actually did delete Snapchat, which is apparently a bit innocuous compared to the other platforms Jaron Lanier (a trustworthy man with some authority here) refers to, but more due to the fact that I have basically 9 active friends there, and all of them use other apps. I think if I were more casually and even leisurely committed to social media, I might be fully persuaded to Since this is my final post here because I'll be deleting Goodreads (and Facebook) after this, I... Okay, just kidding. I actually did delete Snapchat, which is apparently a bit innocuous compared to the other platforms Jaron Lanier (a trustworthy man with some authority here) refers to, but more due to the fact that I have basically 9 active friends there, and all of them use other apps. I think if I were more casually and even leisurely committed to social media, I might be fully persuaded to give it up completely. However, I work with organizations that only communicate through Facebook groups, have a business page, and get a lot of family news that way. One of the big cuprits is Google, but I am so set up with the calendar, drive, the maps (with my pins of all the places in the world I want to visit), gmail, and a YouTube account where I've posted original music... I don't see how I could possibly delete the accounts like he suggests.However, the author does spell out the biggest dangers in using social media. While deleting your account is, to him, the only solution, I think it has to be helpful to just know how you're being manipulated. Use more discretion on how you use social media and how often, but an important step is to stop thinking that perhaps others are being manipulated but you're not. We're all susceptible. However, information is better than ignorance. Everyone has to choose their response. However you respond, this is a short book, with arguments worth considering.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Quick read; good food for thought: Be like a cat.
  • Simon Stegall
    January 1, 1970
    BlackOxford, in the review above, apparently faults Jaron Lanier for both being a computer scientist and for sounding like one. Besides resorting to ad hominem and straw man attacks and refusing to engage in a meaningful way with the book's content, BlackOxford also illustrates one of this book's central points, which is that, on social media, the biggest asshole always gets more 'likes' than everyone else.Lanier does write like a computer scientist, which is what makes this book interesting. Hi BlackOxford, in the review above, apparently faults Jaron Lanier for both being a computer scientist and for sounding like one. Besides resorting to ad hominem and straw man attacks and refusing to engage in a meaningful way with the book's content, BlackOxford also illustrates one of this book's central points, which is that, on social media, the biggest asshole always gets more 'likes' than everyone else.Lanier does write like a computer scientist, which is what makes this book interesting. His criticisms of social media are juicy and effective, but they are constructive criticisms. He knows of what he speaks, though he speaks not eloquently. He is not utterly against social media,but argues that it could be a benevolent invention if it were constructed in a primarily humanistic way, rather than a primarily capitalist way: if it wasn't a mule of corporate advertising, and if its algorithms weren't designed to promote whatever snags people's attention the fastest, perhaps it would be a primarily useful tool, like LinkedIn, which is constrained by a practical, real-world purpose. And he has a point. After reading this book, even I, social media hater that I am, was softened to the idea that the ills of social media could possibly be reformed. All in all, I read this book expecting to agree with most of it. And I did. I don't have any social media, mostly for existential reasons (as Lanier puts it, social media strongly encourages you to flip your existential switch from 'Solitary' to 'Pack'-- enter identity politics) and so I related to Lanier's points there. My only critique is that his proposed solutions to the social media problem are brave but of remote possibility: he proposes a monthly fee for social media users, which would decenter the business model from advertising and data-collection to a more democratic atmosphere. I think it's a great idea, but I struggle to envision it happening.Either way, Lanier clearly loves technology, and would like to redeem it from the maw of advertising and vitriol that has seized it. But he loves his own soul more. This is what makes the book good. Lanier quit all of his social media years ago, despite the fact that he is a total progressive who believes tech is the future. He quit because he wanted to preserve his own identity in the face of a massive identity melt. This book is mainly about that: why your individuality is important, and why quitting social media is essential to maintaining it. And Lanier, Silicon Valley veteran, practices what he preaches. Respect, bro.
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  • Carrie Poppy
    January 1, 1970
    Persuasive.
  • Dee's Books
    January 1, 1970
    Thought-provoking read by an intelligent author, musician and noted resident of Silicon Valley, Jaron Lanier who will have you thinking about every key you've hit, ad you've searched on your social media sites using 10 valid and strong arguments for deleting your social media account right now. This book speaks of how algorithms are affecting our mindset and manipulated us all... scary actually to think but in so many ways too true!"Algorithms gorge on data about you, every second. What kinds of Thought-provoking read by an intelligent author, musician and noted resident of Silicon Valley, Jaron Lanier who will have you thinking about every key you've hit, ad you've searched on your social media sites using 10 valid and strong arguments for deleting your social media account right now. This book speaks of how algorithms are affecting our mindset and manipulated us all... scary actually to think but in so many ways too true!"Algorithms gorge on data about you, every second. What kinds of links do you click on? What videos do you watch all the way through? How quickly are you moving from one thing to the next? Where are you when you do these things? Who are you connecting with in person and online? What facial expressions do you make? How does your skin tone change in different situations? What were you doing just before you decided to buy something or not? Whether to vote or not?"We are actually under mind control with the many forms of social media outlets. Examples: Think President Donald R. Trump and (I use that name and title very loosely) and comedian, Roseanne Barr as of late - self-sabotage... can't move away from the computer or give it up. Like both are addicted to the site. From bullying tactics, outlandish conversations, retweets,... monsterish tweets... should I go on... but do think dopamine!!!!!!!Read this one... you won't regret it! The lightbulb will click on in your head instantly!!!!!!!5 alarming stars!
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  • Isabelle
    January 1, 1970
    A quick read which I think will preach to the converted (my uncle who doesn't use social media anymore loved it). As an author, I would sincerely lose a lot of my audience if I deleted my social media accounts!Yes it made me think about using social media less but I already was aware of the ways in which social media uses and exploits our data because I've worked in marketing...Sorry. I'm part of the problem. BUT only because as Lanier points out in this book, businesses have HAD to be involved A quick read which I think will preach to the converted (my uncle who doesn't use social media anymore loved it). As an author, I would sincerely lose a lot of my audience if I deleted my social media accounts!Yes it made me think about using social media less but I already was aware of the ways in which social media uses and exploits our data because I've worked in marketing...Sorry. I'm part of the problem. BUT only because as Lanier points out in this book, businesses have HAD to be involved to be current.
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  • FunkyPlaid
    January 1, 1970
    For such a short work, Jaron Lanier's Ten Arguments conjured quite a lot of feelings in me, and most of them smacked of frustration, embarrassment, and exasperation. It's not that I find myself disagreeing with his core ten-point encapsulation of reasons to remove one's self from the influence of social media, which is satisfyingly listed on the back of the book (and which caused me to purchase it in the first place). These feelings are instead much more the product of having so many problems wi For such a short work, Jaron Lanier's Ten Arguments conjured quite a lot of feelings in me, and most of them smacked of frustration, embarrassment, and exasperation. It's not that I find myself disagreeing with his core ten-point encapsulation of reasons to remove one's self from the influence of social media, which is satisfyingly listed on the back of the book (and which caused me to purchase it in the first place). These feelings are instead much more the product of having so many problems with Lanier's logic, opacity, and style – all of which feel plainly pedestrian and in fact belie the back cover's promise of what should be a vital read.No question that Lanier has established his chops as a seasoned veteran of Silicon Valley, contributing to the early days of the Internet in both structure and service, including AI and VR tech as well as digital models of economic sustainability. Despite these accomplishments, he is not so adept at putting his ideas down into a digestible form with any semblance of cohesion, flow, or professionalism. The book is therefore a slog and his scattered and terribly flawed presentation undermines the arguments he is attempting to posit.If the difficulties were all about style and layout, Ten Arguments might be more readily accepted as a definitive treatise on shucking the behavioral control imposed by the social media corps. But even these issues make what should be a simple read into something more akin to copy editing a high-schooler's conspiracy manifesto. Lanier's prose is informal, self-congratulatory, and overly precious, and he repeatedly falls into bad writing habits like incessantly asking questions without answering them in situ, instead choosing to waste space by explaining that he will explore those answers in a later chapter. This happens nearly a dozen times in a 146-page book, which is well beyond annoying. He fails to understand how footnotes should be used, choosing to attach them to word rather than sentence – and this results in one of his sentences having six distinct footnotes where a single one would have sufficed at the end of the sentence. His citations are maddening, almost every one being long strings of arcanely formatted URLs with no titles, dates, or author information contained within. I cannot see anyone in their right minds trying to type some of these in to their browser to further examine his sources; at the very least, a simple title would be far easier to look up. I even checked his personal website (which looks like it was designed in 1987) for live links to these sources, but the only "web resources" associated with the book were self-promotional ones. I also found the titles he has chosen for the many sections within his text to be overly clever, needlessly twee, and often simply irrelevant to the matter that follows.The real issues with Ten Arguments, however, go beyond Lanier's style and are products of a handful of anemic thought experiments and many pages of pop-psychology standing in for what should be (and apparently could be, if his sources were more incisive) investigative journalism from the unique perspective given to him by his many experiences in the industry. Lanier is a computer scientist, but his bio simply states "scientist", perhaps affording him the freedom to intermittently ramble about utopian philosophies and posit unfounded psychological models ("addiction is a neurological process that we don't understand completely") that come off as uninspired café-counter conversation. He makes some valid points at times, but these are often engulfed by what reads as mental riffing that Lanier, himself, is not necessarily convinced he believes. Terms like "universal cognitive blackmail" and "the unbounded nature of nature" are particularly cringeworthy, as is his forced, ubiquitous acronym of "BUMMER", the anthropomorphized villain of this cautionary tale. The latter is so omnipresent in the text and stands out so greatly on the page that it actually derails the comprehension process of reading the book. And flaccid political statements like "something is drawing young people away from democracy" hang by themselves in the room like dirty jokes cracked at a funeral. There is no exploration, no exposition, no definition of this aphorism, so what, exactly, is its point?I can appreciate the underlying dangers of which Lanier warns and it would be difficult not to believe the general social trajectory that he describes, but I just don't feel that his arguments are as effective as they could be. Despite the fact that he has witnessed a lot of what happens behind the scenes, he is reluctant to satisfactorily describe what is going into the sausage and who is ultimately to blame. It's a cop-out to repeatedly incriminate Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc. while simultaneously condemning the vile "unknown third parties" who are paying these companies to conduct "mass behavior modification" and promulgate destructive "network approach". The fact that he is currently employed by Microsoft might have something to do with that opacity, and this might even be construed to brand Lanier as some measure of evangelical hypocrite, but since I do not know the man, I can only speculate. Yet I cannot help but think that his contribution here would have been better served and more instructive to unmask those third parties, if not with direct evidence, then at least with more detail about the algorithmic secrets that Lanier claims are more closely guarded than national intelligence. Even a mockup of one of these schemes would be more insightful than the final chapter of the book is, which instead argues that social media "hates your soul" and allegorically contends that BUMMER is essentially a religion with a goal of subsuming our free will, which presumably will be sacrificed to the god of virality. That last chapter is a real doozy and closes things out on a pretty low note.Despite these moral and ethical imperatives that threaten to undo us all, Lanier repeatedly absolves himself of any responsibility for telling us what we should do, and he meekly liberalizes his manifesto by acknowledging that we know what's best for us individually – just in case he appears to step on any toes (thanks for that indulgence!). All of this is then invalidated by his fatuous assertion that "if you want to be a real person, delete your accounts", and others like it throughout the text. Furthermore, Lanier has a tendency to speak of himself as part of the Silicon Valley apparatus from an elitist perspective, claiming that despite all the best intentions that were seeded as the industry was ramping up, everything has gone south and it's now up to the public – who are being used as "product" – to right these wrongs by quitting their social media accounts. This, on the assumption that a mass exodus from corporate behavioral control will somehow then spur his colleagues in Silicon Valley to set up new, less nefarious methods of capitalizing on interpersonal communication in the age of digital media. At one point, he brazenly states, "If you don't quit, you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself". Really? Well, I'm sorry, Jaron, but who screwed it all up in the first place? Whose job is it to fix this? Thanks for nothing.It's not all drek, though, and that is why this review offers two stars to Ten Arguments. Lanier excels when recounting the history of tech in the Valley and is clearly most comfortable when discussing his industry's early intentions and theories about how things perhaps should have gone. He is obviously correct to claim that the widespread use of social media has a marked deleterious effect on interpersonal compassion and empathy, and that big data is being used by hidden parties to manipulate favor and behavior on a grand, international scale. Terms like "invisible social vandalism" and AI being "a cover for sloppy engineering" are adroit and fall directly in Lanier's wheelhouse. Likewise, Lanier's discussion of context being applied to statements on social media after the fact is painfully accurate, and his thought-model on a corporate-controlled Wikipedia is memorable, proving that he can, indeed, enunciate important ideas. I only wish there were more of them. Perhaps in his other books, but I won't have the patience to attempt to read them.I personally believe, however, that the needlessly meandering and clumsy Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now can be summarized by a single phrase from Argument Three: Social Media is Making You Into an Asshole: "Your character is the most precious thing about you. Don't let it degrade." Now that is clear, concise, and vital writing.
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  • Stany
    January 1, 1970
    Jaron Lanier's key theme is that the business model behind the success of the big internet /social media companies (facebook and google mainly) is based on companies paying to be able to manipulate user behaviour. So the users are the products and the companies are the customers. This leads to a downwards spiral of negativity. The only way to stop this spiral is to delete your social media accounts. I believe there is a lot of truth in this, but I really have a problem with the way he brings it. Jaron Lanier's key theme is that the business model behind the success of the big internet /social media companies (facebook and google mainly) is based on companies paying to be able to manipulate user behaviour. So the users are the products and the companies are the customers. This leads to a downwards spiral of negativity. The only way to stop this spiral is to delete your social media accounts. I believe there is a lot of truth in this, but I really have a problem with the way he brings it. It is unstructured, poorly researched, at times unnecessary vitriolic and worse of all, badly written. In fact I find it hard to distinguish his writing from what he despises so much on the web. I doubt this book is going to change anyone's view on the pros and cons of social media. In fact, now that you have read the first sentence of this review, you shouldn't really bother reading the book as there is little new you will learn.
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  • Sasha
    January 1, 1970
    I was a teenager when I encountered Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book . I’m not sure how it came into my possession (I have a vague recollection of its being bought at a garage sale) but I was fascinated by Hoffman’s handbook for subversion. He offered a plethora of clever ways to misbehave, get away with it, and feel fine doing so, since all “good” behavior was presumed to support an oppressive system. Hoffman’s first crack at this topic was his 1967 pamphlet "Fuck The System", which detailed wa I was a teenager when I encountered Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book . I’m not sure how it came into my possession (I have a vague recollection of its being bought at a garage sale) but I was fascinated by Hoffman’s handbook for subversion. He offered a plethora of clever ways to misbehave, get away with it, and feel fine doing so, since all “good” behavior was presumed to support an oppressive system. Hoffman’s first crack at this topic was his 1967 pamphlet "Fuck The System", which detailed ways to do just that — mostly by getting stuff for free that The Man wanted you to pay for. Free bus rides by boarding with a large-denomination bill just as the bus is leaving; free meat by dressing as clergy and telling a slaughterhouse you’re provisioning a church-sponsored meal; free phone calls by using a #14 brass washer with scotch tape instead of a quarter. It was genius.It’s tempting to think that Hoffman must be rolling over in his grave today, when The System itself is the one handing out free stuff left and right, while yet oppressing people more than ever. Jaron Lanier detailed in his 2014 Who Owns The Future how the current paradigm of “free stuff” given away for the price of membership and usage data results on the flipside in the destruction of livelihoods — musicians who can no longer support themselves as recording artists; Uber drivers in a race to the bottom for meagre earnings; millions of YouTubers competing to be one of a tiny number of really well-compensated content providers on the platform, while everyone else gets squat.Lanier’s new Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now — the unwieldy title pays homage to Jerry Mander’s 1978 Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television — goes beyond economics to describe the way the business model of Facebook and Google in particular affect our mental health, politics, and spirituality. Lanier is always worth listening to on these subjects, as he’s been the skeptic at the table during the creation of many of the technologies and business concepts in question. Moreover, many of his predictions in Who Owns The Future and You Are Not A Gadget have been amply borne out by our intervening history.The primary object of scrutiny here is the business model of the two aforenamed tech giant companies — that is, “a business model in which the incentive is to find customers ready to pay to modify someone else’s behavior.” Amazon, Apple, and others dabble in this business model, the argument goes, but don’t function on it primarily — even so, the algorithmic progression to ubiquity of this approach to what is called “advertising” (but is in fact direct manipulation) has sufficed to transform our society sharply for the worse.Lanier dubs this business model BUMMER, ostensibly standing for Behavior of Users, Modified and Made into an Empire for Rent. Potential readers may rest assured that the acronym itself is probably the least intelligent feature of this book, though one may forgive Lanier the need to come up with something brief to label his central subject. The actual reasoning and analysis he brings to the subject is keen, lucid, and dire: In brief, this phenomenon makes people (in aggregate and over time) antisocial, sad, helpless, anxious, unempathetic, poor, disenfranchised, and alienated from their very souls. Taken together, these trends represent “an existential threat to civilization.”Evidence — from GamerGate to MAGA to the Gig Economy — is on his side. If it were unclear to anyone that, as the saying goes, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold,” the details provided here remove all doubt. Lanier explains the dynamics that keep us addicted to being products even while we are bled dry of our ability to participate meaningfully by players who use our contributions but never remunerate us. At a svelte 144 pages, TAFDYSMARN may as well be an extended pamphlet to counterpart Hoffman’s — essentially, Lanier is saying, "The System is Fucking You."The solution offered in both cases turns out to be markedly similar: Turn on, tune in, drop out — especially the latter. Voting with one’s feet, starving the BUMMER beast of one’s own data, is proposed here to be the only solution possible or necessary to this vicious societal bind. (One imagines throngs of disillusioned children denying corporate Tinkerbells their belief in fairies.) Abjure Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, WhatsApp and their ilk, and all shall be well. There are other varieties of internet experience that don’t feed this monstrosity, after all, and, to use the book’s own analogy, when people understood that leaded paint was poison, they simply stopped buying any paint at all until non-leaded varieties were available. If you’re thinking this seems unrealistic, in a world where 2.2 billion of us use Facebook and billions more use Google, you’re not crazy. For one thing, it occurs to me, as it may well have occurred to you, that dropping out is an individual action, with an individual cost, when the consequences of not doing so are largely felt in the aggregate. Unless individuals recognize some downside to themselves worth trading for their cat videos, outrage, and just-around-the-corner chance of making it big online, they’re unlikely to do it for the kids — or the environment, the society, or the survival of humanity.Historically, this kind of situation has been the strong suit of governmental regulation — I don’t feel like recycling, or obeying red lights, but if none of us do those things we all die, so I’ll care about the $230 fine I’ll get for not doing them enough to do them. But BUMMER has outpaced government, except in police states, and roundly seduced its users — excuse me, its products — into the bargain. “Your goal [concedes Lanier] should not necessarily be to force governments to regulate or even nationalize Facebook before you’ll rejoin, or to force Facebook to change its business model, even though those are achievements that must precede the long-term survival of our species.” After all, despite Mander’s arguments, television was not eliminated. (Indeed, of any force with the potential to eliminate it in the intervening years, the leading contender has been “BUMMER.”) And here we happen on a fruitful line of inquiry that Lanier leaves untouched: What happened to television and its potential to sap our humanity? Well, by and large, people developed what we now call media literacy to deal with it. The average viewer today doesn’t think for a moment that the Big Mac they would get at a McDonald’s looks like the one advertised on TV, or that Fox News is fair and balanced, or that Pat Sajak looks like that naturally after all this time — much less that the train they see moving toward them on the screen will hit them if they don’t move out of the way, as early moving-picture viewers thought. In fact, many in the millenial and xennial generations reflexively question appearances, mores and assertions represented on the boob tube.Could something similar happen for social media? It’s not clear. There is already backlash to “BUMMER,” but the businesses in question seem to hold all the cards. Frequently, challenges to the dominant paradigm are simply fed in and subsumed, producing more “BUMMER.” Adaptive algorithms are famous for outpacing human reactions to them.At the same time, I can personally aver that lots of positive, prosocial, affirmative, enfranchised, enriching stuff happens on social media, even those outlets that feed the machines at Facebook and Google. I’m betting you can too. The argument, supported by evidence, is that those things don’t equal the net deleterious effect such outlets have on society. But they do demonstrate that the civilizing human spirit persists even in hostile environments. And we have yet to prove that that spirit is bound to fail in its contest with this metastasizing, anti-human business model. Recall that in the process of evolution, some of the most pronounced and impressive mutations occur among extremophiles.Only one of these arguments fails to convince this reviewer totally, and that is Lanier’s last — that “Social Media Hates Your Soul.” To my understanding, Lanier has always had a bit of a blind spot regarding what constitutes a soul and what supposedly separates it from machinery. Against evidence, he adheres to a belief in a fundamental qualitative distinction between the two and tends to ridicule those who see otherwise. “Why not conceive of people as naturally evolved machines, but machines nonetheless?” he writes. “People could then be programmed to behave well, and the human project could flourish. Behaviorists, Communists, and now Silicon Valley social engineers have all tried to achieve that end.” But of course nobody “programs” the machines in question to do all the terrible things that they end up doing to us in the service of a people-manipulation business plan. These are machine learning applications, so called because they make a crude guess, check their results, adjust for next time, and then repeat until they’ve reached mastery at their task (in this case, monopolizing people’s time). It’s the same way a human being learns to catch a ball, just much more rapidfire. You could optimize for something different — say, total human wellbeing — and reach a very different result; in fact, that is what the machinery of our species has been doing lo these past few hundred thousand years.It’s happened that, at the current moment on this larger and longer optimization quest, our species has hit upon and become obsessed with an arrangement for connecting eourselves that enervates the species as a whole. That arrangement and our obsession with it do indeed stand a chance of apocalyptically derailing the larger project. Maybe that fate will be averted via Lanier’s prescriptions, or maybe some other way — my money is on extremophilic mutation. What’s clear, though, is that all of us must give the matter serious attention. And to that end, Lanier’s warnings are well-timed.
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  • Oryx
    January 1, 1970
    A real bummer man. Just kidding. Presented with a real clarity and very well argued indeed. Not what I was expecting from the title. Lanier makes it seem like this is the only argument worth having, the most pressing problem of contemporary society; it makes everything else fall by the wayside or seem to stem from the impact of the mood manipulators, the Silicon Valiums, the algorithms and advertisers. (It probably does.) Scary stuff. This is not a book condemning the internet. It is the opposit A real bummer man. Just kidding. Presented with a real clarity and very well argued indeed. Not what I was expecting from the title. Lanier makes it seem like this is the only argument worth having, the most pressing problem of contemporary society; it makes everything else fall by the wayside or seem to stem from the impact of the mood manipulators, the Silicon Valiums, the algorithms and advertisers. (It probably does.) Scary stuff. This is not a book condemning the internet. It is the opposite. And rightly so. Terrific. 4.11
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  • George P.
    January 1, 1970
    Like many others, I find it difficult to imagine life without social media. I use Facebook and Twitter at work to share articles fromInfluencemagazine, the Christian leadership magazine which I edit. They account for a large percentage of the traffic on the magazine’s website. I ignore them at professional peril.I use Facebook and Instagram at home to share information and pictures with my family and friends. They help me keep in touch with people who are important to me but don’t live close by. Like many others, I find it difficult to imagine life without social media. I use Facebook and Twitter at work to share articles fromInfluencemagazine, the Christian leadership magazine which I edit. They account for a large percentage of the traffic on the magazine’s website. I ignore them at professional peril.I use Facebook and Instagram at home to share information and pictures with my family and friends. They help me keep in touch with people who are important to me but don’t live close by. Although I get most of my news from websites, I also click on the links to news articles and op-eds that these people share in Facebook and Twitter.These professional and personal uses of social media sound benign, so why does my wife complain that I’m on my phone too much? Why do I feel compelled to check it compulsively throughout the day? And why do I so often feel negative emotions like sadness, anger and jealousy after spending time on Facebook?Technology always begins as a tool to help us exercise control over nature. After a while, however, it becomes our master, in effect exercising control over us. If you don’t believe me, try replacing your smartphone with a dumbphone, or try giving up social media for Lent. If you can do so, great! If not, then perhaps you have a problem.Jaron Lanier stakes out a radical position on social media in his new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Here they are in his own words:1. You are losing your free will.2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.3. Social media is making you into a [jerk].4. Social media is undermining truth.5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.7. Social media is making you unhappy.8. Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity.9. Social media is making politics impossible.10. Social media hates your soul.Lanier is not an anti-technology Luddite by any stretch of the imagination. He is a computer scientist — a founding father of virtual reality, in fact — and is well regarded throughout Silicon Valley.Nor is he writing from a religious perspective, despite his usage of terms like free willand soul. He’s not religious in any conventional sense, as far as I can tell. His political opinions are far to the left of mine and those of the readers of my magazine. And his occasional use of profanity — I had to come up with a less offensive term for Argument 3 above — can be distracting.So, why would I recommend Christian leaders — pastors, educators, etc. — to read this book? I can think of at least three reasons.First, Lanier is concerned with issues related to the common good. Lanier’s ten arguments are morally fraught. They deal with the character of the individual in relationship to others, especially on matters of public importance. No one wants to live in a society overrun with unempathetic jerks who twist the truth and tell lies, robbing workers of their economic dignity and politics of its effectiveness, all the while making everyone deeply unhappy. Right?Second, Lanier’s sixth arguments is that social media destroys people’s capacity for empathy. It does this by cocooning users in a “filter bubble” where they are increasingly exposed only to others whose viewpoints expressly match their own. This exacerbates the tendency to lump people into “us” and “them,” where “we” are always on the side of righteousness and “they” are always on the side of wickedness. When we break out of that bubble and deal with real people and their actual arguments, we realize that reality is more complex that social media lets on. Because “they” also are concerned with the common good, “we” can make common causeon issues where we agree, even as we realize that we will continue to disagree (strongly, even) on other issues.Third, as a tech “insider,” Lanier has unique insight into the business modelthat drives social media and leads to such negative results. He calls his explanation “the BUMMER machine,” where BUMMER is an acronym for “Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent.”Think of it this way: Facebook and other social media provide its services free to billions of users. How can it afford to do that? Because its users are not its customers, they are its products. Social media sucks up an enormous amount of data about you — birthdate, address, location, workplace, political interests, searches, friendship networks, etc. — repackages it and sells it to others. Some of these users, social media’s actual customers, have largely benign goals, i.e., marketing and selling affordable products you’re interested in. Others — Lanier cites the Cambridge Analytica particularly — have less benign goals.To make money, social media have to figure out ways to keep you coming back for more, which it does through constant surveillance and subtle manipulation.  This is the point of argument 1 about the loss of free will. As Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, once explained it: “We need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever…. It’s a social validation feedback loop…exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology….”Some things, once you see them, cannot be unseen. For me, Lanier’s book had that quality. It made me think about social media, my use of them, and what widespread usage of them are doing to us in a new and disturbing way. I haven’t been fully persuaded to delete my social media accounts, obviously, since you’re reading this on one social medium or another. But perhaps drawing attention to Lanier’s arguments will help in some small way to resist social media’s BUMMER tendencies and contribute to a happier, healthier, and more humane common culture.Book ReviewedJaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now(New York: Henry Holt, 2018).P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote "Yes" on my Amazon.com review page.
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  • Yxas
    January 1, 1970
    I deleted Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram after reading Cal Newport's Deep Work. I'd always had a lingering antipathy towards those services, as I'd sensed that they insidiously seized my time - not only without my consent, but with my permission! Before reading Cal Newport's lauded, though sometimes lampooned, tract on working deeply, it'd never occurred to me to actually examine my own relationship with social media. Well, I was quickly swayed, and after reading Deep Work it was soon I deleted Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram after reading Cal Newport's Deep Work. I'd always had a lingering antipathy towards those services, as I'd sensed that they insidiously seized my time - not only without my consent, but with my permission! Before reading Cal Newport's lauded, though sometimes lampooned, tract on working deeply, it'd never occurred to me to actually examine my own relationship with social media. Well, I was quickly swayed, and after reading Deep Work it was soon apparent that social media was harming me, rather than helping me. Ever since I've quit social media, I've been a happier and more productive person. If only someone had encouraged me sooner.Jaron Lanier wants to encourage you right now. Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (which I'll abbreviate to Ten Arguments, thank you very much!) is Lanier's 4th book. As one of Virtual Reality's prime movers, Lanier is perhaps silicon valley's most respected Jeremiah. Based on his tech credentials, you might guess that Lanier champions social media. He doesn't. Ten Arguments is his attempt to get everyone to shed it.Before opening the book, its front cover immediately entices with a visual metaphor. There's a scene of outstanding beauty - the reflection of an azure sky in the foreground, with snow-capped mountains in the distance - rudely interrupted by a chat bubble. It feels like a statement that any interaction with nature needs some commentary mediated by social media, even if that interaction materialises in the form of a pretty picture on a book cover. A statement about the pervasiveness of social media then, and the fact that it's everywhere, even on the cover of a book which is about discouraging you from using social media. Very meta.Lanier proceeds to make a forceful case through 10 arguments. Lanier is always sweet and likeable, both in writing and videos, though he's sometimes indulgent. Ten Arguments is notably less self-indulgent than his previous works. If his renowned sesquipedalian* prose has irked you before, you'll be pleased to know that he's relatively plain and direct in his writing here. Besides the odd** acronym, the prose in Ten Arguments isn't as circuitous as it's been in Lanier's previous works. The arguments are: 1. You are losing your free will 2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times 3. Social media is making you into an asshole 4. Social media is undermining truth 5. Social media is making what you say meaningless 6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy 7. Social media is making you unhappy 8. Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity 9. Social media is making politics impossible 10. Social media hates your soulLanier's arguments often incorporate what he groups as BUMMERs. I won't spoil the acronym here. But he includes Google, Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter within that group of BUMMERs, alongside a few others. All of the arguments are targeted at BUMMERs.Many of the arguments feel as though they were written for an audience of citizens, rather than individuals. The risk an activity poses to society might not dissuade individuals from contributing to a particular activity, and in this book, it sometimes feels as though Lanier has confused the societal drawbacks of using social media with personal ones. This is isn't a serious flaw, but Ten Arguments For Us All Deleting Social Media Accounts Right Now probably would've been a more accurate title.Speaking of the arguments, some of them are stronger than others. Let's look at a weaker argument first: I found the suggestions raised in Argument 8 - "Social Media Doesn't Want You To Have Economic Dignity" problematic. Lanier suggests that we directly monetise services like search and social media, and that within that system, users earn money on the basis of their contributions, provided those contributions are popular. So, sort of like a subscription model, but with a reciprocal financial component for subscribers.I find this problematic because once you're monetising on the basis of subscription, you've changed the revenue model. In our current system, BUMMERs offer services for free to attract people. People are attracted to those services and provide data by using them. Data is then the crude oil which is refined and then sold on to advertisers, and that's how BUMMERs make their money. In Lanier's proposed subscription model, the popularity of your posts wouldn't increase revenue unless your posts resulted in more people adopting subscriptions for the given services, so I'm not sure why BUMMERs would feel inclined to pay users for their contributions. It wouldn't make financial sense for them to. Remember, according to this suggestion, we've stripped away the whole ad-revenue model, and so in theory, popularity (which is really only useful as "engagement") doesn't matter any more. Subscriptions do. Furthermore, Lanier partially concludes the argument with "It just isn't right to tell people they are no longer valuable to society when the biggest companies exist only because of data that comes from those same people". I'm an economic layperson, so take everything I've just said with a huge grain of salt - but I have a slight problem with this too. Yes, the companies only exist because of the data that comes from those same people, but as Lanier alludes to throughout the book, the monetary value these companies accrue comes from their ability to use that data to modify behaviour and provide services to advertisers. I'm on board with the underlying sentiment, and the overall sense that we should try to create a fairer way to redistribute the spoils of mass data mining, but this argument in particular wasn't a very strong one for me. Okay, now the stronger arguments: "You are losing your free will", "Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy" and "Social media hates your soul arguments" were all persuasive and passionate. If you only read one argument in the entire book, I recommend that it's the one on free will, as that's the most gripping argument for both citizens and individuals.Arguments aside, there are more things that the book could've covered, and there aren't many compelling solutions to accompany the plea to delete social media accounts. When I've spoken to people about my own experience deleting social media accounts, they tend to ask me questions like "How'd you keep up with events?" and "Don't you miss out on things?" or "How'd you stay up to date?". In fact, if you speak to people about social media, and you'll soon discover that most people aren't in love with it. They dislike it, and often want to it quit too. It isn't hard to persuade people that social media is deleterious. It is however, very hard to persuade people that social media is not indispensable. On that basis, Lanier was a little remiss to not explore these common objections and queries a little further. So, prospective reader, you should know that Ten Arguments is more of a polemic than it is a primer. For practical guidance on actually getting by with substantially less / no social media at all, I highly recommend Catherine Price's How to Break Up with Your Phone.Back to Ten Arguments. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Russia's alleged tampering of the recent US presidential election, revenge porn, tribalism and tax avoidance, this book is important. It is a civic duty to examine your (yes, YOU!) relationship with social media given our present zeitgeist, and that's precisely what Ten Arguments forces you to do. With that in mind, think of Ten Arguments as an examining body, and take an opportunity to examine your relationship with these "indispensable" services, and the impact of your relationship on society, by reading this book.4**I'm aware of the irony here **I'm aware of the double entendre here
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    I've already been thinking about social media and whether I should reduce my presence online, and then I found this book, so it was perfect timing. The author makes some very good points, but they tend to be lost in disorganization. The book isn't particularly cohesive, and the author often comes across as gearing up for a rant. I also couldn't stand the acronyms (BUMMER, in particular). If you can get past this, though, there's some good information in here about how social media sees its subsc I've already been thinking about social media and whether I should reduce my presence online, and then I found this book, so it was perfect timing. The author makes some very good points, but they tend to be lost in disorganization. The book isn't particularly cohesive, and the author often comes across as gearing up for a rant. I also couldn't stand the acronyms (BUMMER, in particular). If you can get past this, though, there's some good information in here about how social media sees its subscribers as products, and how they attempt to influence you to purchase from their advertisers. And anyone who has spent more than ten minutes on Facebook or Twitter knows how people can be incredibly ugly on those sites, saying things that (I hope) they'd never say in public or face-to-face to others. Combined with how Russia meddled with the 2016 election, and it left me wondering why I even had a Facebook account in the first place, especially since I don't get much from it.I'm not deleting all of my social media accounts. I'm keeping Instragram because I find a lot of good vegan recipes and inspiration on it; I'm keeping Goodreads (obviously) and Litsy because I enjoy them and find them useful. But as for the rest...meh. I don't need Facebook, and lately, especially, it's only making me depressed every time I'm on that site. As part of my self-care regimen, which is desperately needed with all of the shit that is going on in the world, I'm going to focus on being more in the "real world" and spending much less of my time online. There's some good stuff here, if you're willing to dig for it.
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  • Mangoo
    January 1, 1970
    Jaron Lanier's warning to at least detach from undiscriminate use of social media is gripping and engaging. As he writes, in this short pamphlet he only skims the surface of the full argumentation against the common and largely mindless use of social media that is becoming pervasive and inducing severe direct and indirect consequences in both real and digital life. He escalates from the practical to the metaphysical level, addressing free will, empathy, behavior manipulation, social atomisation Jaron Lanier's warning to at least detach from undiscriminate use of social media is gripping and engaging. As he writes, in this short pamphlet he only skims the surface of the full argumentation against the common and largely mindless use of social media that is becoming pervasive and inducing severe direct and indirect consequences in both real and digital life. He escalates from the practical to the metaphysical level, addressing free will, empathy, behavior manipulation, social atomisation and religion. The call is the more absorbing as it comes from an early tech wizard and passionate who still works for Microsoft and yet, and since years, rejects multiple aspects of modern technology and particularly the use made of it as if there was no alternative. In fact, there are alternatives to the current business model of tech giants, and Lanier also describes what in his view was the root of the evil: a confluence of free services and adoration of tech entrepeneurship, whose collision led to ad-financed free services. He instead supports "data as labor" approaches, besides subscription-based services whose viability is currently demonstrated by Netflix and HOB among others.For Lanier the consequences of current social media establishment are disquieting at best, if not endangering the survival of humans as we know them. Even not agreeing on this perspective, the book is a must and stimulating read to rethink interconnection and existence in these days. Deleting social media accounts en mass could if anything push the giants to consider alternative formulations of their business model, hopefully in favour of some where the user is again at the center and is not the product.
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  • Caleb Hoyer
    January 1, 1970
    The whole reason I read this book is because it’s becoming harder and harder for me to ignore my suspicion that my social media use is really not good for me. Given that, I’m not sure how much it means for me to say that the author’s arguments were convincing; I was predisposed to finding them persuasive. But needless to say, they were convincing. And frightening. And, to me, even more obvious than I had expected. The jury is in on social media. It is a BAD development for the world, at least in The whole reason I read this book is because it’s becoming harder and harder for me to ignore my suspicion that my social media use is really not good for me. Given that, I’m not sure how much it means for me to say that the author’s arguments were convincing; I was predisposed to finding them persuasive. But needless to say, they were convincing. And frightening. And, to me, even more obvious than I had expected. The jury is in on social media. It is a BAD development for the world, at least in its present incarnation. It makes our lives worse. I’m not sure if I can vow to delete all of my accounts now, but I am absolutely going to endeavor to curb my addiction. The only reason I’m giving this book three stars rather than a higher rating is that I wasn’t all that impressed with the writing. Perhaps some of it was too “techie” for me to comprehend clearly, but I felt like the arguments were based on solid enough evidence that they should have been even more slam dunks than they were, which I can only attribute to the clarity of the writing. But still, a fascinating and very important book.
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  • Kitty
    January 1, 1970
    I'm going to try to go without Facebook for a while after reading this book, but I don't know how compelling I find all of Lanier's arguments. He certainly has some good points, but I think he is a bit blase about dismissing the positive aspects of social media, and he doesn't really offer a better alternative for support networks for people who fail to find those in meatspace. He blithely suggests that we should all just make our own websites, which would be great, except that no one visits my I'm going to try to go without Facebook for a while after reading this book, but I don't know how compelling I find all of Lanier's arguments. He certainly has some good points, but I think he is a bit blase about dismissing the positive aspects of social media, and he doesn't really offer a better alternative for support networks for people who fail to find those in meatspace. He blithely suggests that we should all just make our own websites, which would be great, except that no one visits my website but me. Then again, his arguments about the way social media affect politics is undeniable and too easy to ignore.I truly don't believe him when he says he doesn't think he's better than social media users. The comparison of social media users to dogs and abstainers to cats is very telling from an author who is a self-avowed cat lover.Still keeping my Instagram, GoodReads, and Litsy for now, and I will need to use Facebook at least occasionally for a few specific groups, like the prosthetic breast knitting community I'm in :-) This will likely be a temporary Facebook break as well.
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  • Nikiverse
    January 1, 1970
    In this book, Lanier tells us that users of social media are merely numbers (similar to how a certain religion was categorized during the Holocaust). Algorithms exist to favor Facebook, Google, their advertisers, and you're being used and manipulated by these algorithms to benefit platform owners and their customers (the advertisers). This seems to be the main argument the author uses to dissuade people from quitting social media. I really like the kindle version, because the footnotes are fille In this book, Lanier tells us that users of social media are merely numbers (similar to how a certain religion was categorized during the Holocaust). Algorithms exist to favor Facebook, Google, their advertisers, and you're being used and manipulated by these algorithms to benefit platform owners and their customers (the advertisers). This seems to be the main argument the author uses to dissuade people from quitting social media. I really like the kindle version, because the footnotes are filled with links to great content! And I appreciated how the author stated he was liberal but proposed his arguments in a way that spoke to conservatives and liberals. I was also strongly reminded that a user of social media (ie. me, you, us) is the PRODUCT of social media; the CUSTOMER is advertisers. I really loved how the book started out ("In a world of dogs, be a cat."), but towards the end, the material started becoming quite repetitive and the distinct reasons to quit social media started to blur together.
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  • Josh Firer
    January 1, 1970
    There are definitely good reasons to consider deleting social media accounts, however I had some issues with how they were presented in this book. Some of the arguments just seemed a bit thin, and a little too much like ranting instead of the cogent arguments that I was hoping for. Reading this book made me feel more conscious of the decisions I am making by opting in to social media sites (such as this one), which made the book worth reading for me.
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  • Kent Winward
    January 1, 1970
    Tech contrarian Lanier makes some compelling arguments to living a more conscious online/offline life -- But despite its ties to the tech behemoth Amazon -- Lanier never mentions GoodReads . . .
  • Dave McLeod
    January 1, 1970
    Devoured in a day. Accomplishes the not insignificant thing of making social media slightly more bearable. ESSENTIAL
  • Joel Adams
    January 1, 1970
    // impressive, persuasive and ultimately damning look at the religion of social media and their manipulation of our data, identities and behavior for profit
  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    A brief, decent book about an obvious thing that many people can't bring themselves to do: stop supporting social media.Social media has been likened to the tobacco industry. It's a pervasive problem. We have a bunch of research about how bad it is. The incentive structures are a nightmare. It ruined the 2016 election. It undermines democracy, empathy, actual human connections. It's false and full of lies. It's addictive. It perpetuates our worst instincts; it turns us, as Lanier says, into assh A brief, decent book about an obvious thing that many people can't bring themselves to do: stop supporting social media.Social media has been likened to the tobacco industry. It's a pervasive problem. We have a bunch of research about how bad it is. The incentive structures are a nightmare. It ruined the 2016 election. It undermines democracy, empathy, actual human connections. It's false and full of lies. It's addictive. It perpetuates our worst instincts; it turns us, as Lanier says, into assholes. And so on. Anyway, billions of people use Facebook. What a nightmare! I have no tolerance for the "concern troll" argument that disadvantaged groups are somehow unable to leave Facebook; I lived in Tanzania for two years and India for one year. In those places, Facebook is now bundled with people's mobile phone plans and offered as a "free" service. I've seen an argument (on Twitter): "this is the only access to the internet these people have!" Oh yes, Facebook offering such succor to the poor and benighted. Give me a break. MPESA gives succor. Facebook sure as hell does not.Anyway. I love Jaron Lanier. I saw him speak years ago. Appalled when no one in the audience knew of E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops, he strongly recommended it and I read it shortly afterwards. And it changed my life. So thanks, Mr. Lanier! I also think his tech skepticism is informed and healthy. And, of course, I'm inspired by his weird and quirky interests: his writing is smart, confident, kind-hearted, and wacky. Which is always a balm.I wonder how many people have actually deleted their FB accounts...
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  • Joshua D.
    January 1, 1970
    This book contains some really powerful arguments for deleting (or at least severely limiting) your social media use. There were a lot of things in here that I already knew (the negative sociological and psychological effects of social media), but there was also a lot I didn't know. Specifically, he talks about the algorithms companies like Google and Facebook use to predict and modify user behavior. The thought of modifying the behavior of increasingly addicted users is more than a little scary This book contains some really powerful arguments for deleting (or at least severely limiting) your social media use. There were a lot of things in here that I already knew (the negative sociological and psychological effects of social media), but there was also a lot I didn't know. Specifically, he talks about the algorithms companies like Google and Facebook use to predict and modify user behavior. The thought of modifying the behavior of increasingly addicted users is more than a little scary. As is the erosion of civil public discourse. As a Silicon Valley insider, Lanier's arguments are well worth considering.Here are his ten arguments:1.) You are losing your free will.2.) Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.3.) Social media is making you into an asshole.4.) Social media is undermining truth.5.) Social media is making what you say meaningless.6.) Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.7.) Social media is making you unhappy.8.) Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity.9.) Social media is making politics impossible.10.) Social media hates your soul.
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  • Rob
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this review and thinking of checking your Twitter feed? Mind overwhelmed right now by something you read that made you mad on Facebook? Perhaps you should pick up this book. In it, tech pioneer Jaron Lanier discusses how his decades in the computing industry has made him fearful of what social media has done to people and our perceptions of the world. Jaron calls social media companies the BUMMER machine. BUMMER stands for "Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent". Reading this review and thinking of checking your Twitter feed? Mind overwhelmed right now by something you read that made you mad on Facebook? Perhaps you should pick up this book. In it, tech pioneer Jaron Lanier discusses how his decades in the computing industry has made him fearful of what social media has done to people and our perceptions of the world. Jaron calls social media companies the BUMMER machine. BUMMER stands for "Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent". Throughout his short book, Jaron makes the case that this BUMMER Machine, through algorithms designed to keep adjusting to our usage, have essentially created separate tailored realities for all of us that result in both feeding of negative emotions, and a pack mentality that divides us and reduces our empathy and understanding of other viewpoints. He makes it clear that through subtle manipulation of these algorithms, like with the Russian infiltration of social media in the 2016 election, opinions can be solidified without people realizing it. He also talks about how social media has hurt our economy and media, as we've made so much of the content free, there is less money going to the people who develop the content, and more to those who track it and turn it into data. This has slowly eroded our media, artistic communities, and helped lead to a rise of a gig economy where people are forever chasing money without any real safety net or comfort. Lanier makes a compelling argument that social media wasn't designed for evil, its need to attract and keep eyeballs has turned it into an addiction for many that has led to many serious issues for both the individual and society. If you've ever questioned whether your time on Facebook or Twitter is good or bad, take the time to read Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. It may convince you to drop your smartphone and pick up another book.
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  • Casey Schreiner
    January 1, 1970
    A necessary read.Look, this is not a self-help book. It's not a how-to guide. It's not even as bombastic as its title might lead you to believe (gotta cut through that Algorithm somehow, right?) -- it's a philosophical read about the new and unprecedented ways we are communicating with each other that, at its core, just takes a step back to wonder why it's like this, who's benefiting from it, and how it's affecting us. Even if you don't end up agreeing with Lanier's conclusions, these are things A necessary read.Look, this is not a self-help book. It's not a how-to guide. It's not even as bombastic as its title might lead you to believe (gotta cut through that Algorithm somehow, right?) -- it's a philosophical read about the new and unprecedented ways we are communicating with each other that, at its core, just takes a step back to wonder why it's like this, who's benefiting from it, and how it's affecting us. Even if you don't end up agreeing with Lanier's conclusions, these are things everyone could benefit from thinking about.
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  • Ramón Nogueras Pérez
    January 1, 1970
    Un puñetazo en la boca del estómago. No le doy 5 estrellas porque cuando habla de modificación de conducta pues, bueno, dice unas polladas del 15, y porque es pesada la disonancia cognitiva que le lleva a tratar de justificar el capitalismo libertario que tan claramente sitúa a la raíz del problema.En mi opinión, una lectura urgente y necesaria, y una clara llamada a la acción. Yo, al menos, la he escuchado.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    Best for: People looking for a push to consider leaving social media.In a nutshell: Silicon Valley veteran (seriously, he worked on internet stuffs in the early 80s) attempts to make the case that social media — in its current form — is harming us and society, and tried to get us to quit. Mixed results follow.Worth quoting:“Yes, being able to quit is a privilege; many genuinely can’t. But if you have the latitude to quit and don’t, you are not supporting the less fortunate; you are only reinforc Best for: People looking for a push to consider leaving social media.In a nutshell: Silicon Valley veteran (seriously, he worked on internet stuffs in the early 80s) attempts to make the case that social media — in its current form — is harming us and society, and tried to get us to quit. Mixed results follow.Worth quoting:“Yes, being able to quit is a privilege; many genuinely can’t. But if you have the latitude to quit and don’t, you are not supporting the less fortunate; you are only reinforcing the system in which many people are trapped.”“The core of the BUMMER machine is not a technology, exactly, but a style of business plan that spews out perverse incentives and corrupts people.”“You know the adage that you should choose a partner on the basis of who you become when you’re around the person? That’s a good way to choose technologies, too.”“When we’re all seeing different, private worlds, then our cues to one another become meaningless… Can you imagine if Wikipedia showed different versions of entries to each person on the basis of a secret data profile of that person?”Why I chose it:I’ve been spending time this year focusing on how I spend my time - I read “How to Break Up with Your Phone” and “Silence” in quick succession. I’ve also been more and more frustrated with how much time I find myself checking Facebook and Twitter, so I thought I’d see if this book helped push me one way or the other.Review:Author Lanier’s premise is that the internet is not bad, but our current social media options (most, at least), are. He uses the abbreviation BUMMER throughout as shorthand for what he calls “Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent.” He makes some good arguments, but his writing leaves a lot to be desired. Part of my issue is seeing the word BUMMER multiple times a page (it feels like I’m being shouted at) and part of my issue is that the editing of this book is not great. There are a lot of ideas slotted into a lot of subcategories that makes it difficult to follow at times.Lanier makes some great points. He discusses how our empathy for others has eroded because it is based on knowing a bit about what they experience, but the algorithms mean we all are seeing different things. It’s hard to respond to someone talking about something you’ve never been exposed to, or that is the complete opposite of what you’ve been exposed to. He also — and I think this is his strongest point — suggests we look at the type of person we are when we’re on different social media platforms.As I said above, he’s not saying that it’s *the internet* that is to blame, but instead the business model that sells the consumer as the product. It’s not so much about malice (although the people behind the bots that helped sway the US election were certainly full of malice from my perspective), but about subtle adjustments to what we see so that we then do what makes the advertisers the most money. It’s obnoxious and is hurting our society.Lanier has issues with some of the big companies — mainly Facebook, Google, and Twitter. And the companies owned by them, including WhatsApp and Instagram. I have to admit I’m confused by his disdain for WhatsApp, because they don’t do ads and the content of the messages is encrypted.So where does that leave us? Yesterday I deleted my Facebook account … sort of. I’m trying to make a career out of writing, so I kept my blog’s Facebook page, which needs to have an administrator, so I created a new Facebook account that has no friends. I also deleted all the tweets from my personal account, and am now only posting things I write to @AKelmoreWrites on Twitter. I’d love to delete it all, but I also would love to figure out how to have a writing career, and the two things seem diametrically opposed.
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