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, Fearful, Isolated And 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 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

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author In the sciences Jaron Lanier scientific interests include biomimetic information architectures, user interfaces, heterogeneous scientific simulations, advanced information systems for medicine, and computational approaches to the fundamentals of physics He collaborates with a wide range of scientists in fields related to t

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  • Hardcover
  • 160 pages
  • Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
  • Jaron Lanier
  • English
  • 03 February 2017
  • 9781847925398

10 thoughts on “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

  1. says:

    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.An apologetic postscript 4Aug18 see

  2. says:

    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 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.

  3. says:

    Actually I thought I knew what Lanier was going to say in this book and wasn t going to read it Then I listened to a podcast with him with Ezra Klein, and beginning about the 60 minute mark, Lanier speaks of how we should be lone wolves instead of pack wolves in our social lives and I stopped cold Wait I kind of understand he is saying think for yourselves, but aren t we supposed to be working together to achieve something bigger than any one of us could do alone I thought he might expand on those ideas in this book.He didn t, but the book is well worth reading anyway In all the ways you will have noticed as you spent time online, sometimes online interactions push us toward less civility and less sense of responsibility The thing I like so much about Lanier is that he seems to recognize that even close friends and family are individuals outside of himself who will have different points of view and attitudes He seems perfectly willing to entertain, refute, condemn those points of view but he will actually listen to them first That doesn t happen always in marriages or families I have seen.Anyway, this small book had so many moments of insight that I won t be able to share them all He speaks of algorithms One of the secrets of present day Silicon Valley is that some people seem to be better than others at getting machine learning schemes to work, and no one understands why The most mechanistic method of manipulating human behavior turns out to be a surprisingly intuitive art Those who are good at massaging the latest algorithms become stars and earn spectacular salaries One of the things Lanier despises most about social media as it has developed is that we are watched constantly and can t experiment without constant judgment How can we be authentic, knowing we are being watched, even corralled Without being authentic, how can we be happy Lanier reminds us that when the web was being invented, many libertarian voices wanted everything to be free At the same time, tech business leaders were considered visionary when they got rich How can those two ideas be reconciled Advertising was chosen to become the dominant business model This didn t feel dystopian at first, Lanier writes But as the internet, the devices, and the algorithms advanced, advertising morphed into mass behavior modification.The purpose was to earn money The process was automatic, routine, sterile, and ruthless Yikes Lanier kindly creates an acronym for us to remember what happens when we allow the machine to take over our decision making BUMMER Lanier suggests it may mean Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent, but it can mean anything you want it to mean as long as you get the point that BUMMER is a machine, a statistical machine that lives in the computing clouds.Even at their best, BUMMER algorithms can only calculate the chances that a person will act in a particular way But what might be only a chance for each person approaches being a certainty on the average for large numbers of people The overall population can be affected with greater predictability than can any single person Since BUMMER s influence is statistical, the menace is a little like climate change You can t say climate change is responsible for a particular storm, flood, or drought, but you can say it changes the odds they ll happen Drop mike Lanier stopped using social media because it made him an asshole, or so he thought He was happy when he got likes, boiled with rage at some comments, and had to give up his connection to context BUMMER replaces your context with its context All this is true He suggests ways to get around using the big platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter He suggests that we give them up until a time comes when we can pay for the interaction, get paid for our content, and have some regulation I will still be looking for him to clarify the lone wolf statement, maybe in his next book.

  4. says:

    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 specific and desperate appeal The social media corporates have improved their models to be far 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 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 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 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

  5. says:

    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 due to the fact that I have basically 9 active friends there, and all of them use other apps I think if I were 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 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.

  6. says:

    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 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 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 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.

  7. says:

    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 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 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 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 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 caf 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, , 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 instructive to unmask those third parties, if not with direct evidence, then at least with detail about the algorithmic secrets that Lanier claims are closely guarded than national intelligence Even a mockup of one of these schemes would be 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 Further, 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 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.

  8. says:

    Quick read good food for thought Be like a cat.

  9. says:

    Another of those misleading, but cool sounding, titles that the author spends an entire book running circles around.

  10. says:

    I wavered between 2 stars and 3 The points he makes are good, but I think the information could have been written in a engaging way Also, he kind of presents himself as being very fair and open minded, yet his bias seemed pretty blatant to me.

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