Title: Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Author: Jaron Lanier
Category: Non-fiction, Technology
10-word summary: Social media could be improved; until then, delete your accounts.
About “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”
This is a book that tries to convince you to delete your social media accounts. Why? Lanier believes that social media has a negative effect on your life and the world we live in. He’s one of the first people to warn us of the dangers of social media and I think we should pay attention to what he has to say.
Lanier makes a very compelling case against social media using sound arguments and researched information. He’s also a pioneer of virtual reality and a computer scientist, so he has an informed perspective. Reading this book may not persuade you to delete your own accounts, but it will definitely make you think deeper about your online activity and the impact it has. And since our world is becoming increasingly more connected, I think anyone with a smartphone needs to hear what Lanier has to say.
Lessons from “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”
Social media has many negative effects
Here are some of the problems Lanier identified with social media:
- it decreases empathy
- it confuses us and makes it harder to find the truth
- it is constantly collecting information on your online activity, limiting your privacy
- it is manipulating you to act in certain ways and this can affect political decisions that impact the entire world
- it makes us act like assholes
- it makes us less happy
There is a chance that you have not noticed any of these things before. Or maybe you noticed some changes in your life, but you never thought that they could be caused or amplified by social media.
Whatever your situation is, keep in mind that social media can have a negative impact on your life – whether you notice it or not. There are several studies that have proven the negative effects social media can have on people. And there are also studies that show how people’s lives improve after they stop using these apps.
Social media is not bad per se, but its business model is responsible for many of its problems
Lanier believes that the reason why social media has so many negative effects is because of its business model. How does it work? Long story short, you can use social media for free because these apps collect a lot of data on you which they can later sell to advertisers. These advertisers create targeted ads to try to persuade you to buy certain products or act in certain ways.
Because this is how social media apps make money, they need to find ways to get you hooked on the platform. In order to make you spend more time on the platform, they use tactics that are not always good for you – the user. However, if they are good for them because they keep you on the platform longer and they make you to interact with more content, they will keep using these tactics.
Remember that the purpose of the app owners is not to make your life better; it is to make more money for themselves and their stakeholders. If social media would use a different model, all these negative effects would be diminished or avoided. For example, if we all paid a yearly subscription to use these platforms, they could function without having to use our own psychology against us to get us hooked.
Deleting our own accounts may be the best thing to do at the moment
Lanier believes that if most of us delete our social media accounts, this will send a strong message to the app owners. They will need to reconsider how they program these apps and how they make money. Since they would rather restructure than lose a lot of money, we may be able to pressure them into making these apps better for all of us – not just the owners and investors.
He also believes that deleting your accounts can have many positive effects on your life. You may be able to keep your privacy, to be an individual who keeps his freedom and who enjoys life more. He suggest making an experiment by deleting your accounts for a few months. This experience may convince you of all the benefits you can enjoy.
What I like about “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”
1. It focuses on an important topic
We are at a point where almost half the people on the planet are using social media apps. And as the number of people who use them grows, their power continues to increase as well.
It is reported that Facebook was able to influence the outcome of two very important votes: the Brexit referendum and the US presidential elections in 2016. When private companies have the power to influence what happens on a national and global scale, we need to be very concerned. We are just a few steps away from a world where we are powerless and we don’t even realize it.
But aside from the impact social media can have on a global scale, the situation isn’t much better on an individual scale either. We can be persuaded to act and feel in different ways than we normally would without even being aware of this. It seems that facebook can influence individuals to vote for a certain candidate or to not vote at all. It can make people feel happier or sadder. And who knows what else they can make us think, feel or do?
When such a power exists and that power can be used by a private company whose purpose is just to make money, we need to be concerned. It is not just facebook that manipulates us. Any third party can use facebook’s technology, data and power to influence us to do many things without even knowing.
As more things come to light about the power of social media, my concern only increases. I realize that this is such a powerful technology that it can literally change the course of history. And that’s why we need to learn more about social media and what it can do.
Luckily, people like Lanier are here to help us make sense of this all. He shares his concerns as a person who understands technology much better than most people. He has an informed perspective and he realizes that we need to be careful. And I’m glad to say that this is just one of the many great books that talk about the power and effects of online technology.
2. Lanier has an informed perspective and provides a simple plan
I think it goes without saying that I value someone’s opinion more if they have expertise in that field. Lanier definitely has an informed perspective on the topic of technology. He is a computer philosopher, computer scientist and one of the people who created the VR technology. He has also been a vocal critic of social media networks and the online technology.
Besides his expertise, Lanier also seems to have a great perspective on the topic of social media. He also proves the validity of his claims by providing numerous resources throughout the book.
I have read a few books on the topic of social media and online technology lately and I have noticed different authors have different perspectives. For example, Cal Newport wrote the book Digital Minimalism to encourage people to fight their social media addictions and to use these apps less and more mindfully. I think his approach can be useful, but I think we should go even further.
Lanier does more than tell people how to curb their addiction. He encourages people to delete their social media accounts – not just to boycott these apps, but to force the owners to redesign these apps in a better way. So while Newport just accepts a big issues as the status quo and tells us how to fight to get back our personal freedom, Lanier asks us to give up on these apps in order to force the owners to change the status quo. I personally prefer Lanier’s approach because it looks at the real cause of the problem and tries to find a solution that will work for everyone by default – if we can put enough pressure on people like Mark Zuckerberg.
3. It is well-written and well-documented
This is a book that is easy to read. It has 10 chapters, each chapter focusing on one of the reasons why we should delete our social media accounts. I think that each point is expressed in a clear and compelling way. And as I mentioned, the book also includes references, which makes it more reliable.
4. It is a short book
Have you noticed how almost all books have about 250 pages? I don’t really know why, but I know I have many read books that should have been much shorter. I was really happy to see that this book is only approximately 150 pages. And yet, it manages to be more informative and well-written than other books that are unnecessarily long.
5. If this is the only book you will read about social media, it will be enough
I think Lanier did a great job at writing a book that explains the negative effects of social media. He provides you with an overview of how social media works, why the current system is problematic and how this affects us, as individuals, and as a society. He explains how we got in this situation, why you should care and what to do about it.
Even though I am sure he could write several other books on this topic alone, he managed to present an important topic in a simple way without treating it superficially. I honestly believe that if you read this book, you don’t need to read other books on the topic of social media. Of course, there are other books on the topic who offer a different perspective or different information.
What I don’t like about “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”
Honestly, I can’t really criticize this book. I really loved it and I don’t think I would change anything about it.
Quotes from “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”
“This book argues in ten ways that what has become suddenly normal – pervasive surveillance and constant, subtle manipulation – is unethical, cruel, dangerous, and inhumane.”
“We’re being tracked and measured constantly, and receiving engineered feedback all the time. We’re being hypnotized little by little by technicians we can’t see, for purposes we don’t know. We’re all lab animals now.”
“The algorithms don’t really understand you, but there is power in numbers, especially in large numbers.”
“One of the main reasons to delete your social media accounts is that there isn’t a real choice to move to different social media accounts. Quitting entirely is the only option for change. If you don’t quit, you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself.”
“What if deeply reaching a small number of people matters more than reaching everybody with nothing?”
“The speed, idiocy, and scale of false social perceptions have been amplified to the point that people often don’t seem to be living in the same world, the real world, anymore.”
“Here is one thing I discovered about myself: I don’t mind being judged if the judges put in real effort, and a higher purpose is being honestly served, but I really don’t like it when a crowd judges me casually, or when a stupid algorithm has power over me.”
Should You Read “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”?
Yes. If you own a smartphone and use any social media (or Google), then you should definitely read this book. It will help you understand how these platforms work and how they can influence your life and our societies.
Read this book and then do what you want online. At least you’ll know how your own data is being used and you can decide if you still want to be a part of that or not.
Don’t worry, you can still keep your accounts – if you still want to.