Reflections on 'Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now'

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Reader's Reflections

Have you thought for a moment why Facebook is being paid billions to provide a cutting-edge media platform for you to use? For free?

Social media, especially the ones that feed you content based on artificial intelligence, have such a command of people’s time and attention that it has become the gatekeeper of minds.

In our time, this is something approaching absolute power on a global network scale.

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now does not address the detrimental effects of social media on such things as relationships or intelligent discourse because these have been well documented elsewhere. What the author offers here is a unique view of a Silicon-Valley insider. The language and terms he uses are idiosyncratic (to put it mildly), but his message and urgent call to action is heard loud and clear: delete your social media accounts.

But why?, we ask.

Consider this. People are learning about the world through social media. And with a user base of more than 2 billion people, it is the widest educational platform on Earth. But what is social media teaching that is so bad?

Well, following on from Marshall McLuhan's oft-cited maxim that 'the medium is the message,' a cursory look at the workings of social media can lead us to the conclusion that the 'messages' of this particular media are:

speak or write without context, truth is measured in virality (the more viral, the more true), emotion not reason, seek attention, be (fake) nice to your followers, be (really) mean to your critics, set up tribes, outrage is activism, only give attention to what has been put in front of you, skip to the comments.

Jaron Lanier gives us ten reasons (or arguments, after Jerry Mander's Four Arguments For the Elimination of Television) why we should give up social media. His reasons include: it is making you unhappy, it is undermining truth, and it is really bad for your religious or spiritual life because virality has substituted epistemology.

To me, this work is a clarion call for the continued relevance of books and its centrality to the life of a healthy mind. Read books and you will learn much more than you could ever do on social media - and in much less time.

Remember, the secret gift of reading is time.

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Jaron Lanier
Bodley Head

Reader's Reflections

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