'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 Review
- January 1, 1970BlackOxfordOn 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.more
- January 1, 1970David WinebergFacebook, 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 Winebergmore
- January 1, 1970Dave McLeodDevoured in a day. Accomplishes the not insignificant thing of making social media slightly more bearable. ESSENTIAL
- January 1, 1970RobReading 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.more
- January 1, 1970Cristie UnderwoodThis book was written by someone in the computer world, so I was really fascinated with his point of view. Social media has totally changed how we interact with one another in a negative way at times. I never realized what a negative impact social media has had on our economy, either. This is an interesting and eye-opening read.more
Write a review