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Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Written by Jaron Lanier

Narrated by Oliver Wyman


Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Written by Jaron Lanier

Narrated by Oliver Wyman

ratings:
4/5 (198 ratings)
Length:
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 29, 2018
ISBN:
9781250301284
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

SXSW 2019…

Jaron Lanier, one of the founding fathers of virtual reality, is slated to be a speaker at SXSW this year. While he clearly believes in tech’s power to do good, he strongly advocates that you should delete your social media accounts. You’ve probably heard many of these arguments before, but not so cuttingly or convincingly as Lanier lays them out.

Description

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now is a timely call-to-arms from a Silicon Valley pioneer.

You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we're better off without them. In his important new audiobook, Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms behind before it's too late.

Lanier's reasons for freeing ourselves from social media's poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more "connected" than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads. How can we remain autonomous in a world where we are under continual surveillance and are constantly being prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history that have no way of making money other than being paid to manipulate our behavior? How could the "benefits" of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom?

Lanier remains a tech optimist, so while demonstrating the evil that rules social media business models today, he also envisions a humanistic setting for social networking that can direct us towarda richer and fuller way of living and connecting with our world.

Publisher:
Released:
May 29, 2018
ISBN:
9781250301284
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Jaron Lanier is a scientist, musician, and writer best known for his work in virtual reality and his advocacy of humanism and sustainable economics in a digital context. His 1980s start-up VPL Research created the first commercial VR products and introduced avatars, multi-person virtual world experiences, and prototypes of major VR applications such as surgical simulation. His books Who Owns the Future? and You Are Not a Gadget were international bestsellers, and Dawn of the New Everything was named a 2017 best book of the year by The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Vox.


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  • Jaron Lanier, one of the founding fathers of virtual reality, is slated to be a speaker at SXSW this year. While he clearly believes in tech's power to do good, he strongly advocates that you should delete your social media accounts. You've probably heard many of these arguments before, but not so cuttingly or convincingly as Lanier lays them out.

    Scribd Editors

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (2/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist who has contributed to the field of virtual reality. He is not a Luddite, so I thought it should be worth reading his arguments against social media. His arguments weren't new to me, but they're significant because of the source. For me, the main takeaway is the reminder that social media users are not the customers, they're the product. If you forget that, you're more likely to allow yourself to be manipulated by the real social media customers – the advertisers.This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
  • (4/5)
    Must read it. You can have a large idea about our cyber soul
  • (5/5)
    Awesome and informative book. The arguments were well thought out and reasoned. I will gradually be moving away from owning any social media account.
  • (5/5)
    very insightful. I deleted Facebook by chapter 9. highly recommend to anyone using social networking. at least think it through!
  • (3/5)
    Chapters and points roughly before “politics” are very interesting and insightful. I didn’t want to stop listening. From the technical and structural point of view the author’s expertise is evident and the book has a lot of valuable points. The author explains the way algorithms work in a detailed enough manner and it is fascinating.

    However, beware, that the author is painfully biased when it comes to politics and such. He described political events in a very shallow one-sided manner, as if every initiative the liberals had was “a great endeavor by the well meaning people”, “good-hearted activists” and any and all criticism is hate, disgusting bots, “Russians”. I mean, think about it, the guy was aware of the whole behavior altering machine for years but wrote this book only now when he didn’t get his way politically and wanted to be a crybaby. I wouldn’t know the full political situation in the US since I don’t live here, however, if there’s one thing I know is that msm controlled by the Democratic Party is as biased as say Fox News controlled by the conservatives.

    His political rant included one thing I am personally concerned about as a feminist- the attempt to erasing single sex spaces in favor of “gender identity”. Which is a disgusting thing perpetrated by the liberals. Nowadays, girls don’t have the right to say no to penises in the showers and locker rooms intended for them because male “feels”. There are students protesting this but they are not given a voice by the so called media this person probably favors and if they are, they are brushed off as bigots. Women’s sports is being destroyed too.

    However, I’m glad he did write this book and if you dig deep enough and brush off his personal bias, you can find great stuff there.


  • (5/5)
    A book given from an educated and sincere perspective. This is definitely a book for all, more importantly though the youth of today who love social media. Somebody is tweaking you, but what’s more scary is who is doing the tweaking, and the scariest of them all is why they’re doing the tweaking. Excellent book.
  • (3/5)
    It worked I deleted my social media; However, i think the writing style is poor & unsettling.
  • (4/5)
    Great book defining the most prevalent threats of our world today. I would give five stars if it wasn’t for the amount of bias the author clearly has and even admits to! I really loved the book but people that are far right will likely discard the ideas due to the amount of bias.
  • (4/5)
    A thought provoking book which stimulated a self evaluation of why I use, or don’t use social media.
  • (5/5)
    Very interesting, raises a lot of questions about our internet use.
  • (5/5)
    Wow. This opened my understanding about social media! Must listen!
  • (3/5)
    Helpful heuristics but somewhat naive conceptions of history and human nature keep it from being great
  • (5/5)
    This is a superb rumination on what it means to be human in the digital age. The arguments are well informed, cogent and compelling. The insidious and secretive business practices of the “social media” companies are sufficiently unveiled, and some of their calamitous effects on society are painstakingly and clearly explained. This cogent book convinced me to delete my “social media” accounts. You need not go that far, but it is imperative that you read this book so that you acquire some understanding of the Faustian bargain you unknowingly strike with “social media” companies when you agree to use their “services”.
  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Algorithmic social media feeds are ruining our lives on every level. Everyone should read this book.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)
    Some decent points BUT he inserts leftist politics EVERYWHERE that he has an opportunity to do so. Every bad example of social media influence has to do with Russians, Trump, Fox news etc. I wouldn't mind if he included both sides of the political spectrum but he never does...

    I gave up about halfway through, tired of debiasing his leftist narrative in order to get to the facts about social media manipulation.
  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Wow! Makes a good case to close many of our social networking sites for good reasons. The narrator made the content come to life.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Delete your accounts! Yeah that’s the only way out...everything else is compliance.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    His presentation is a bit too glib, but it's hard to naysay his positions, which include that social media not only gets you addicted and makes you lonelier, but helps turn you into an asshole. Not to mention its extraordinarily deleterious effects on the world body politic, as we've all seen; Lanier says that the alarming turn so many countries have made from democracy to authoritarian nationalism cannot be fully understood without factoring in the influence of Facebook and similar services. I think he's right. In any case, despite the cute acronyms and offbeat humor, this is a serious book that needs to be read by people on all sides of the issue, because there's an argument we need to have.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Please read! Each person must become aware! Heartfelt gratitude to Jaron Lanier for his thoughtful and provocative truth telling in this tittle.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This book is a short read; I started it at the park this afternoon and am done with it now at home. I'm afraid a book like this is a confirmation bias for my own contrary, instinctive dislike of social media, with its fake presentations of life and its lack of meaningful connections, at least for me.Jaron, in a strong but open-minded way, has inspired me to stop looking at Facebook, even those groups that are "helpful," like my mental illness group and my art group. Because, y'know what? They DON'T make me feel better. And I DON'T get more art done or enjoy more art because of them.I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my Pixel phone. Sorry, Jaron, I'm in the Google ecosystem, and they're making their money from me. However, I am going to stop watching Youtube for a while.Podcasts and meatspace reading and thoughtful research into the internet.Don't just accept what's being curated for me based on stupid algorithmic decisions. Dive into the world out there and see what's what.An inspiring read.P.S. I skimmed the last chapter, where he talks about BUMMER social media companies as a religion. Just reiterating previous points here, and without a very nuanced and interesting view of spirituality and religion. His religion is freedom! And I'm into that. :)

    1 person found this helpful