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Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

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Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer 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.

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 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. nicer person in the process.

146 pages, Hardcover

First published May 29, 2018

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About the author

Jaron Lanier

17 books1,261 followers
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 these interests.

Lanier's name is also often associated with Virtual Reality research. He either coined or popularized the term 'Virtual Reality' and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. In the late 1980s he led the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, for both local and wide area networks, as well as the first "avatars", or representations of users within such systems. While at VPL, he and his colleagues developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas. He led the team that developed the first widely used software platform architecture for immersive virtual reality applications. Sun Microsystems acquired VPL's seminal portfolio of patents related to Virtual Reality and networked 3D graphics in 1999.

From 1997 to 2001, Lanier was the Chief Scientist of Advanced Network and Services, which contained the Engineering Office of Internet2, and served as the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities studying advanced applications for Internet2. The Initiative demonstrated the first prototypes of tele-immersion in 2000 after a three-year development period. From 2001 to 2004 he was Visiting Scientist at Silicon Graphics Inc., where he developed solutions to core problems in telepresence and tele-immersion. He was Scholar at Large for Microsoft from 2006 to 2009, and Partner Architect at Microsoft Research from 2009 forward.

Lanier has received honorary doctorates from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Franklin and Marshall College, was the recipient of CMU's Watson award in 2001, was a finalist for the first Edge of Computation Award in 2005, and received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE in 2009 for contributions to Virtual Reality.


Lanier is a well-known author and speaker. Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. His book "You Are Not a Gadget" was released in 2010 and was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Michiko Kakutani in the NY Times. He writes and speaks on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technological practices, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. His lecture client list has included most of the well-known high technology firms as well as many others in the energy, automotive, and financial services industries. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Discover (where he has been a columnist), The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harpers Magazine, The Sciences, Wired Magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. He has edited special "future" issues of SPIN and Civilization magazines. He is one of the 100 remarkable people of the Global Business Network. In 2005 Lanier was selected as one of the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by readers of Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines.


As a musician, Lanier has been active in the world of new "classical" music since the late seventies. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. He maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played rare instruments in the world.

Lanier's "Symphony for Amelia," premiered in Octo

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,316 reviews
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
July 2, 2020
Please read this book! Even if you don't want to delete your social media accounts this book will make you so much more mindful about what is happening to your brain, to politics, to truth, and to communication when you use social media. I quit twitter the day before I started this and it has affirmed that decision INTENSELY. I will never go back to that awful place!

The author is so positive: he isn't anti-tech, he's just pro-GOOD tech. He is funny and silly but serious and well measured. He gave me so much to think about! I will absolutely be rereading this and I will be recommending it to EVERYONE for the rest of time. We spend so much time and energy on this platforms: how often do we actually think about how they're manipulating and using us?
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,633 followers
July 1, 2018
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 more 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.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68k followers
August 4, 2018
On Genies and Bottles

In 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,396 followers
August 3, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Steven Medina.
185 reviews823 followers
January 25, 2022
Todo lo que genera adicción es peligroso

Buen libro.

En realidad 3,5

Nosotros, somos partícipes de la generación, que tiene la «dicha» de tener acceso a millones y millones de datos que nos proporcionan la oportunidad de aprender infinidad de temas diferentes. Es tanta la información que encontramos, que solemos expresar con total seguridad, que hemos aprendido más en internet que en el colegio donde nos formamos: Y en el fondo, es verdad. Si por ejemplo te gustan las aves, el mejor lugar para aprender interactivamente sobre estos lindos animalitos es en internet. Un libro no te podrá ofrecer la oportunidad de escuchar sus cantos y sonidos, pero tampoco observarlos te dará la posibilidad de comprender la historia de la especie; en cambio, si entras a la web, con tan solo un clic de esfuerzo aprenderás sobre miles de especies porque internet ha vuelto todo más rápido y sencillo de realizar. Internet llegó a nuestra vida como el ángel salvador de nuestra ignorancia, y como estamos sedientos de conocimientos y somos curiosos por naturaleza, es inevitable no amar internet. Si internet nos ayuda tanto, ¿para qué separarnos de él? Navegar en la web es como entrar a un parque de diversiones sin límites, en el que te entretienes con cada atracción que encuentras, sin parar, y por el tiempo de duración de la energía de tu cuerpo y de tu mente, aunque también podemos llegar a desvelarnos, ignorando nuestras necesidades básicas como dormir, defecar, y comer. Además, como a los seres humanos nos encanta lo desconocido, y cada día se publican nuevas aplicaciones, juegos, sitios, videos, noticias, etc., pues lo más natural del mundo es ir sintiendo cada vez más esa necesidad de estar revisando, minuto a minuto, hasta la más pequeña notificación de lo que nos interesa. Como todos lo hacen, y parece completamente normal, pues nosotros también lo hacemos. Es más, como no estar actualizado siempre ha sido catalogado como «negativo», pues con más firmeza sentimos un gran impulso a revisar todos los días decenas de sitios por internet, y todo para seguir sintiéndonos aceptados en esta sociedad, porque en el fondo eso es lo que buscamos. Sin embargo, hay muchas lecciones por aprender en nuestro paso por este mundo, y una de ellas tan importante, pero a veces tan ignorada, es que todo en exceso, es malo.

Desafortunadamente ese es el gran problema que vive nuestra generación, el problema de acostumbrarnos a vivir de excesos. Lógicamente, los excesos con el tiempo provocan adicciones, y las adicciones nos destruyen, por lo que el ángel salvador que apareció para combatir nuestra ignorancia, en verdad no es tan bueno como parecía. Claro que nos ayuda a combatir nuestra ignorancia, pero ¿a qué precio? ¿De qué sirve llenar nuestros cerebros de miles de datos, si no sabemos procesarlos? ¿Por qué mejor no nos enseñan primero sobre los defectos de internet, en vez de tener que aprenderlos cuando ya somos adictos? Ya no parecemos seres humanos, ahora parecemos zombies dependientes de un dispositivo. En este libro, el autor nos contará sobre los peligros de las redes sociales, pero el problema no son las redes sociales, el problema es la tecnología en general. La tecnología nos ha vuelto igual de adictos que un consumidor de heroína. Esta adicción ha alterado nuestro cerebro, ha destruido la empatía con la que nos relacionábamos con las demás personas, y en general ha intoxicado con un veneno mortal cada una de las áreas de nuestra vida. ¿Estoy exagerando? Claro que no. Todos conocemos a alguien que no puede separarse de estos dispositivos, y cuando lo hace, se le nota la angustia y el sufrimiento por salir de su mundo irreal. Y si no conocemos a nadie, de hecho es muy sencillo comprobar la intoxicación que vive el mundo en general. Lo único que necesitamos es desconectarnos por varios días de nuestro móvil, salir a la calle, observar el comportamiento de las demás personas, y reflexionar sobre lo que divisamos. No hace falta ser un gran observador, ni hacer meditaciones como si fuéramos budistas, para notar lo enferma que vive la sociedad por tener tanta información a la mano. Somos una generación que ya ni saborea la comida; que ya ni duerme; que ya no comparte con la familia; que ya se le olvidó escuchar a los demás; que huye con pavor del silencio, la calma, o la meditación; que ya no piensa por si misma; que ya no puede salir a ningún evento sin tomar una foto, o publicar un estado; que ya no puede pasar siquiera una hora sin su dosis antinatural de dopamina, que mantiene embobado al cerebro. Tras observar estos, o muchos otros inusuales cambios de comportamiento, ya no parece que seamos una generación tan dichosa, ¿verdad?

La buena noticia es que podemos cambiar, y recuperar nuestro cerebro. Debemos aprender a usar la tecnología correctamente, y no que la tecnología nos use. Necesitamos desconectarnos (no permanentemente, claro está) para recuperar nuestra esencia, nuestra alma, nuestros pensamientos, y elegir lo que realmente deseamos hacer. Si nunca nos desconectamos, seguiremos siguiendo las órdenes de un algoritmo que programa todas las notificaciones y noticias que recibimos. Si no nos desconectamos, seguiremos siendo simples ratones de laboratorio que monitorean constantemente, y con los cuales experimentan para averiguar la mejor forma de seguir drogándonos con eficacia. Debemos salir de esa burbuja irreal en la que vivimos para ser libres. ¡Debemos despertar!

Después de esta larga reflexión introductoria, que parece más un ensayo, paso ahora sí, a comentar sobre el libro. Bien, en Diez razones para borrar nuestras redes sociales, nos encontramos un libro que es interesante por su información, pero el cual no es constante en su intento de retener la atención del lector. Quizás no les suceda a los demás, pero yo he sentido que es un libro muy desorganizado en la forma como presenta su información. En la mayoría de los capítulos se repite información que fue presentada en el primer capítulo, se explica varias veces lo mismo, se usan referencias y notas de página que no aportan mucho valor a la lectura, y hasta el título me ha parecido un fraude porque la razón número diez, realmente es un resumen de las otras nueve razones, y además, prácticamente durante todo el libro, el autor recomienda (casi gritando) que borremos nuestras redes sociales, pero al final dice que no es necesario borrarlas sino solo desconectarnos por un tiempo de ellas. ¿Al fin qué? Hay que tener claro el mensaje que queremos transmitir. No obstante, a pesar de sus fallas en el proceso de creación, y de que sentí todo el tiempo que estaba leyendo una conspiración que intentaba sugestionar mi proceder, el libro tiene información muy interesante como la descripción psicológica de los usuarios de las redes sociales. Eso fue algo que me encantó porque, indudablemente tengo que reconocer, que me sentí identificado con las características que presentó el autor. Yo he tenido pensamientos de ese estilo, y en el fondo también soy un adicto a internet: Es más, he descubierto que también soy adicto a la pornografía, aunque ese es otro tema del que hablaré probablemente en otra reseña.

Sin tener en cuenta la razón diez, sobre la que ya expliqué, debo decir que el sentido primario de las restantes nueve razones, contienen valiosa información para entender en profundidad sobre los daños físicos y psicológicos que nos causan las redes sociales. Hay frases importantes para destacar, mensajes para releer varias veces con mucha calma, y párrafos que nos hacen reflexionar sobre nuestro comportamiento en internet. El objetivo del autor es que el lector dude de su forma como usa las redes sociales, y eso lo consigue de una forma interesante. Estas son algunas de esas frases:

«Tú, y solo tú, tienes la responsabilidad positiva de inventar y mostrar maneras de vivir sin la basura que está destruyendo la sociedad.»

«El daño a la sociedad se produce porque la adicción enloquece. El adicto pierde progresivamente el contacto con el mundo y las personas reales. Cuando mucha gente se vuelve adicta a mecanismos manipuladores, el mundo se desquicia y se vuelve oscuro.»

«Las redes sociales añaden otra dimensión de estímulos: la presión social.»

«Si resulta que ciertos tipos de publicaciones nos entristecen y un algoritmo está intentando que estemos tristes, aparecerán más publicaciones de esa clase. Nadie tendrá por qué saber nunca la razón de que esas publicaciones en particular tuvieran ese efecto sobre nosotros, y probablemente nosotros ni siquiera nos demos cuenta de que tal o cual publicación nos entristecieron ligeramente o de que estábamos siendo manipulados. El efecto es sutil, pero acumulativo.»

Como bien pueden notar con estas frases, se puede observar que el autor ha realizado una gran investigación psicológica sobre nuestro comportamiento como seres humanos, y de la forma como un algoritmo manipula nuestras decisiones, nuestras emociones y nuestra vida en general. Naturalmente, el autor ha tenido mucha experiencia en el mundo de la informática, por lo que su conocimiento sobre algoritmos, lo combina con su investigación para crear un mensaje de conciencia que intenta ayudar a nuestra sociedad, que está destinada a la destrucción si sigue por el mismo camino. En este libro encontramos reflexiones muy interesantes sobre temas como la obsesión por los likes y las estadísticas, la agresividad, la pérdida del libre albedrio, la idiotez, la información falsa, la infelicidad, etc. Un buen libro para reflexionar, esa es la verdad.

El inicio me pareció estupendo, arrancó de la mejor manera, pero después de cierta cantidad de páginas, empecé a sentir un cierto tipo de «pereza» porque los capítulos se me hicieron demasiado largos. Como mencionaba anteriormente el final es un resumen, quizás pudo ser más emotivo, pero en general es un libro aceptable que vale la pena conocer para ser un poco más conscientes de nuestro uso de las redes sociales. Hay que tener en cuenta también que el autor usa sus experiencias propias y opiniones, para intentar reafirmar sus convicciones sobre las que nos quiere convencer a lo largo de todo el libro.

En resumen, un libro valioso que invita al «despertar de la conciencia» para dejar de ser títeres (lo cual me gusta mucho), pero que puede llegar a volverse tedioso por la cantidad de información que no es relevante para el lector. Realmente el libro pudo tener otra estructura, y ser más corto, esa es mi opinión. Eso sí, a pesar de mis observaciones, no me arrepiento de haber leído este libro porque hay frases y mensajes que me ayudan a crecer y evolucionar en este largo camino llamado vida.

Libro recomendado.
Profile Image for Alok Mishra.
Author 16 books1,185 followers
October 15, 2022
I agree with the title of the book. However, the book reads more like a hurried rant or coarse howl. It is not sophisticated, well-explained and organised. Still, it offers something to think about and something to ponder (seriously). Lanier is a scientist. A tech-head who knows how it affects our minds, Lanier could have had his arguments presented in an aesthetically appealing way to reach a wide audience. Irrespective of his writing style, he brings our attention to several critical concerns that social media brings with itself – short attention span, short-tempered society, loath, clumsy, low self-confidence, sans morality, and hopeless generation. Still, how many will delete social media accounts?
Profile Image for FunkyPlaid.
56 reviews4 followers
July 21, 2018
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.
Profile Image for David Wineberg.
Author 2 books683 followers
May 8, 2018
Facebook, Google and The Rapture

Jaron 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 Wineberg
Profile Image for David.
2,210 reviews45 followers
June 1, 2018
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 more due to the fact that I have basically 9 active friends there, and all of them use other apps. I think if I were more 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 more 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.
Profile Image for Simon Stegall.
213 reviews10 followers
September 20, 2020
Lanier writes 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 more 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 more. 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.
Profile Image for Karin Garcia.
169 reviews2 followers
January 25, 2019
I wavered between 2 stars and 3. The points he makes are good, but I think the information could have been written in a more engaging way. Also, he kind of presents himself as being very fair and open minded, yet his bias seemed pretty blatant to me.
Profile Image for Michelle Curie.
716 reviews349 followers
September 21, 2020
I have conflicted feelings about social media – on the one hand, it allows me stay in touch with friends; it's necessary for me in order to do my job (it's expected of me to have an Instagram account as an illustrator), on the other hand... I just don't really like it.

This book is pretty straight-forward. I picked it up after watching Netflix's recent documentary The Social Dilemma, in which the author of this one is being interviewed. The book covers very similar topics to the film and essentially makes the same point: social media is dangerous.

Jaron Lanier is an American computer philosophy writer, who has worked for companies like Microsoft and Atari and has had much say in the development of virtual reality. In this book he's writing about how social media is essentially bringing out the worst in us, as what consumers often don't understand is that it's ultimately a business platform.

"Customized feeds become optimized to 'engage' each user, often with emotionally potent cues, leading to addiction. People don't realise how they are being manipulated. The default purpose of manipulation is to get people more and more glued in, and to get them to spend more and more time in the system."

Lanier's tone is amusingly clumsy – he's writing this in an almost apologetic tone, constantly reassuring the reader that it's not their fault they don't see through all this. I have to note that you can tell he's more of a scientist than he is a storyteller and while the message was one to think about, the writing style was occasionally painfully awkward.

I strongly believe that social media awareness is essential in today's society, where it's become expected of you to just carry a phone on you all of the time (something I personally struggle with). The points he makes about algorithms are interesting and thought-provoking – we shouldn't just get sucked in into mindless scrolling adventures for hours. I personally also just don't. Social media or the internet also just hasn't turned me into an asshole, like Larnier claims it does. I don't know what it is, maybe it's because I have already actively confronted the problems and pitfalls of internet usage that this for me, for the most part, only stated the obvious.

Worth a read if you feel like you're tapping in the dark when it comes to the flip sides of having an online presence. Otherwise, maybe just skim through this.
Profile Image for Ivan.
661 reviews123 followers
August 18, 2018
A good example of the book that should have been an article. Worthwhile points raised in the book with needless filler. A better book: “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads,” by Tim Wu.
Profile Image for Melissa.
382 reviews79 followers
February 9, 2021
Fine, fine. But I’m keeping Goodreads!
Profile Image for Candie.
310 reviews98 followers
November 3, 2020
I was a bit unsure about my thoughts on this book. Overall, it made me more mindful of what I am doing on social media and the effects that it has on my life. I have actually since deleted my Instagram account and do not regret it. I found this book to be very thought provoking.

That said, I'm not sure if it was the actual writing or just the subject matter that I connected with. I found the book to be a bit all over the place which I didn't expect for such a short book and I'm not entirely sure how persuasive his arguments would be for many people. I think on writing style alone I would likely give this book less stars but because it left me with so much to think about and look into I ended up giving it 4 stars.
Profile Image for Djali ❀.
112 reviews96 followers
May 4, 2021
Interessante spunto di riflessione ma non sono riuscita ad apprezzare - e a sopportare - lo stile di Lanier.
Peccato, ero partita con grandi aspettative e sono rimasta molto delusa.
Due stelle solo per le informazioni fornite dall’autore riguardo la FREGATURA ossia il sistema del quale si servono i social network (o meglio, chi vi è dietro) per manipolare le menti delle persone rendendole schiave, vuote, superficiali.
Per il resto, un grande mah. La scrittura di Lanier non è riuscita a coinvolgermi più di tanto, facendomi talvolta desiderare di abbandonarlo.
Sicuramente lettura non sconvolgente.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,037 reviews514 followers
November 22, 2018
Another of those misleading, but cool-sounding, titles that the author spends an entire book running circles around.
Profile Image for Gary.
110 reviews12 followers
March 22, 2022
I’m somewhat biased in my dislike of Social Media so this book reinforces a lot of my own personal beliefs when it comes to sharing opinions on this internet. Let me start by saying that I don’t see Goodreads as a social media website because I have no inclinations to engage with other people in such a way as I might on Twitter or Facebook.

The writer seemed quite knowledgeable about the subject he was writing about and his arguments were well supported by citations, although I would have a heck of a time typing the long ass hyperlinks off a page in order to follow up…

The main argument in this book is that the negative aspects of social media is what typically prevails because the algorithm is rigged to push what is most engaging, ie. emotionally manipulative stuff. Therefore “assholes”, as described by the author, become kings on the internet and the more well adjusted folk kind of just fade into the background or adapt to become assholes themselves.

All in all I liked the book. It was kind of annoying how the author used the word “BUMMER” (Behaviour of Users Modified and Made into Empire for Rent) like repeatedly on almost every page and the last argument went to deep into metaphysics and seems psychobabble-y to me.
Profile Image for Saffron Moon.
164 reviews19 followers
February 24, 2022
Here are the arguments that Jaron Lanier outlines and expands upon in his book:

Argument 1. You are losing your free will.
Argument 2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.
Argument 3. Social media is making you into an asshole.
Argument 4. Social media is undermining truth.
Argument 5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.
Argument 6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.
Argument 7. Social media is making you unhappy.
Argument 8. Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity.
Argument 9. Social media is making politics impossible.
Argument 10. Social media hates your soul.

Honestly this gets a high rating from me only because I 100% support and agree with the message.
My only complaint is that the writing itself seemed to meander to ensure the content acquired book length, when I would have preferred it edited down to no more than a magazine article in length. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough content here to make a book.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
864 reviews1,091 followers
April 5, 2019
Found this fairly incomprehensible writing-style wise because I wanted to fall asleep every time I picked it up. Sadly my hopes were too high.
Profile Image for Nad Gandia.
165 reviews34 followers
July 26, 2021
A pesar de que no estoy de acuerdo del todo en algunos de sus puntos,es una lectura que amplia los horizontes de opinión sobre las redes sociales y sus consecuencias directas como sociedad y como individuos.
Profile Image for sæfaɪɚ.
76 reviews
October 19, 2020
I wanted to like this book more. I've been greatly reducing my social media usage, so I wanted some affirmation, and some further entrenchment of this feeling I've had about social media in recent months. This book is not a self-help book, nor is it a summary of research. It won't speak to you about the simple joy of reading a book on your porch with a mug of tea instead of endlessly scrolling Instagram, or about recent studies on body image and social media use. If you want motivation to quit for your own happiness, this probably isn't going to give you that. But if you want to read a techie rant for some 150 pages about everything from forum trolls to Russian Twitter accounts to AI, this is thee book for you. It's not a well-written book, and some stylistic choices are really quite terrible. People don't remember acronyms if each letter stands for a long, convoluted, alliterated sentence. His style is too casual, too full of jargon, and just a bit odd. He hasn't ever used social media (which, good on him), so it isn't relatable to me as a typical millennial in my late twenties. I live in 2019, and I want commentary on how Instagram makes you vain, jealous, self-conscious, disconnected, whatever... not commentary on early internet forums. His arguments were rambling, disparate threads with no cohesion, and his attempt to play pop psychologist really was not coherent. His lack of coverage of the effects that social media has on young women really bothered me. I think his perspective as a defector of sorts is interesting. He is knowledgable, obviously. But I WISH he'd focused is energy more on that insider techie knowledge, and let the book be a bit shorter if it needed to be. I think if he pared down the points into their core premises, took down the unqualified psychobabble, and focused instead on the techie insider knowledge he has, this book would have been LOADS better. My favorite bit, honestly, was him talking about being cat-like. I think that was a fun idea, and it made me smile. I wish he'd come back to that at the end.
Profile Image for marco renzi.
266 reviews69 followers
September 19, 2021

Ho cancellato il mio profilo Facebook nel 2014; ero anche su Twitter, ma anche lì ho resistito poco, anche se ci sono entrato e rientrato più volte; su Instagram invece non ci ho mai messo piede. Per un periodo ho provato anche LinkedIn, che avrebbe dovuto aiutarmi col lavoro, e pure in quel caso mi sono dovuto arrendere: un po', credo, per la mia incapacità di usare il mezzo, e un po' perché le mie esigenze non corrispondevano con le inserzioni più ricorrenti sul social.
Dunque da tempo gli unici social ai quali sono iscritto sono Goodreads, Letterboxd (un equivalente di Goodreads ma con i film) e RateYourMusic, dove tutto sta già nel nome. Ci sarebbe poi anche un profilo su Anobii lasciato lì a pigliare la polvere da quando il sito ha cominciato a fare schifo e molti utenti si sono trasferiti di qua in modo definitivo.

L'autore del libro parla da addetto ai lavori: mi sono rispecchiato in toto nelle sue prese di posizione, specie per quanto riguarda il fattore emotivo del tema, ossia il motivo per il quale non ho più voluto avere una vita "social" che andasse al di là delle piccole piattaforme sopracitate. Tuttavia, secondo Lanier non sarei del tutto pulito, poiché uso tutti i giorni Whatsapp (inglobata da FB e Instagram) e Gmail. Ecco, ammetto che a oggi non potrei fare a meno di questi due servizi, che per quanto invasivi trovo comodi e inoltre sopperiscono in parte alla mia assenza dalle piattaforme più grosse.

Insomma, come avrebbe detto Gaber, il mio è un far finta di essere sani, benché da anni mi ritenga leggermente più sano di coloro che vedo scorrere di continuo il dito sullo schermo dello smartphone in cui si vedono foto di gattini, un sacco di ragazze seminude (il che potrebbe indurmi in tentazione), post di gente famosa, meme che non fanno ridere, imbecilli che scrivono perlopiù dabbenaggini o diffondono affermazioni dannose. E lì mi capita di sentire le stesse persone assuefatte a questo meccanismo lamentarsi di tutto ciò; sicché domando: «Ma te l'ha ordinato il dottore? se ti fa tanto incazzare o ti rende frustrato, cancellalo pure».
Devo dire che di risposte chiare non ne ho mai ricevute, a parte: «eh, ma mi serve per tenermi in contatto coi miei amici». Non lo so, mi pare una giustificazione un po' del cazzo: io di amici non ne ho persi manco uno; con alcuni che sentivo solo sui social ho mantenuto i contatti in altri modi, che nel terzo millennio sono parecchi; i restanti, quelli perduti come lacrime nella pioggia, evidentemente non erano amici, ma solo facce e parole che comparivano tutti i giorni sulla mia bacheca.
Altri mi dicono: «Io ci guardo le notizie». Anche questo non so se sia molto sano: di solito le panzane più grosse vengono diffuse proprio sui social, e secondo me è meglio attingere direttamente alle fonti per noi più autorevoli. La rete è piena di siti d'informazione ben fatti, in edicola ci sono ancora i giornali cartacei: alcuni buoni solo per andare al cesso, altri però ancora validi. Quindi, mi chiedo, perché cercare le notizie sui social? Per me si perde moto meno tempo a fare nell'altra maniera, per giunta rischiando di pestare qualche merda di meno.

Alle fine credo siano parecchie le persone che usano i social con parsimonia e intelligenza; ma sono purtroppo altrettante quelle da essi intossicate sotto molti punti di vista, a partire dal rimbecillimento dato dalle notizie false capaci di cambiare gli equilibri politici (sempre in favore dei partiti peggiori, ovvio), dall'invidia suscitata da chi mostra una vita almeno apparentemente migliore della loro, passando per la ragazza o al ragazzo preso di mira perché troppo grasso/a, troppo brutto/a, troppo nero/a o omosessuale: tutta roba che talvolta può avere esiti persino fatali. Chi prima aveva un ego smisurato probabilmente adesso ce l'avrà ancor più smisurato; chi aveva l'autostima sotto i piedi ora potrebbe averla potenzialmente sotto il livello del mare.
Ci sono poi le eccezioni positive, ma è da ciechi negare certe piaghe sociali.

Per concludere, questo breve saggio immagino rafforzerà le convinzioni di quelli come me, mentre potrebbe creare qualche interrogativo ad altri; per gli assuefatti, ossia chi crede di sparire dalla faccia della terra dopo essersi tolto da Facebook o da Instagram, credo non ci sia alcuna speranza, a prescindere dalle buone argomentazioni riportate nel libro.
Io di certo continuerò sulla mia strada, quantomeno per ora. L'assenza dai social non mi ha impedito di avere una vita sociale piuttosto soddisfacente, di trovare una fidanzata (che poi mi ha mollato, ma questa è un'altra storia), di scrivere su riviste online o cartacee e su un quotidiano nazionale. Sono campato bene lo stesso, o magari meglio, senza aver mai visto un post di Chiara Ferragni; ma vi dirò di più: mi va benissimo anche non vedere cosa fanno i miei scrittori, registi e musicisti preferiti; tanto quando uscirà un loro libro, film o disco, io sarò comunque lì a goderne. E di tutto il resto, francamente, m'importa una sega.
Profile Image for Luis.
706 reviews145 followers
July 13, 2020
Se habla poco del mundo que crean las redes sociales. Más allá del evidente narcisismo del que todos hablan, lo cierto es que estos lugares de encuentro están dirigidos mediante sistemas de recompensa a nuestro cerebro. El autor, que participó en diseñar importantes rasgos de Internet en Silicon Valley, ha acabado renegando de estos inventos.

Hay varias cosas que se tienen que aclarar para poder resaltar los aciertos de este libro. En primer lugar, no se trata de un libro de conspiraciones porque el autor hace referencia a las noticias y estudios en todo momento. También hay que decir que, independientemente de que quieras o no borrar tus redes sociales, convendría que al menos aprendieras sobre las realidades menos visibles que hay detrás de las redes de las que eres usuario. Por último, habría que pasar un poco por encima la estructura del libro, quizás demasiado reiterativa, pero dividida de forma eficaz.

Algo que merecería la pena decir miles de veces: no todos vemos lo mismo en las redes sociales. Parece evidente, ya que cada usuario sigue e interactúa con cuentas diferentes según sus afinidades. Y aquí viene el problema: nuestros mundos son del todo distintos. Antes no era así. Ahora la empatía entre nosotros se pierde a ojos vista, ya que no existe una realidad común desde la que partimos. Esta es la razón por la cual nuestra sociedad está más polarizada que nunca, y eso seguirá yendo a más. Si a eso le sumamos la intensa cantidad de noticias falsas (y no lo olvidemos: ¡de cuentas falsas!), la incertidumbre es total. El autor también describe la facilidad mediante la cual las redes potencian los comportamientos más compulsivos e instintivos, en detrimento de la reflexión. Todo acaba girando en torno a dos posturas artificiales: los trolls agresivos y las personas falsamente amables.

Podría mencionar más cosas negativas: por ejemplo, ¡los algoritmos de las redes sociales son lo único que no es posible hackear, mientras que tu identidad sí! El autor también pone de manifiesto que LinkedIn o los podcast son maneras de hacer algo constructivo en este entorno.

Una lectura rápida y muy sorprendente que debería ser el manual de entrada a las redes sociales, ya que los términos y condiciones de uso nadie los lee.
Profile Image for Rachel Bea.
358 reviews112 followers
April 4, 2019
If I hadn't already deleted my Facebook account a few years back, I would most likely delete it immediately after reading this book. Right now I'm down to Twitter and Goodreads (if you can count Goodreads for social media - not sure if I do) and Instagram. I can also do without Instagram, and I don't know if I'll ever post there again now, but Twitter? I'll admit: I'm completely addicted.

Which is why this book was important for me to read. While I haven't (yet) deleted my Twitter account, I now look at the platform with different eyes. I'm concerned, really, and am wondering if it's even ethical to continue using it (see his chapter on Politics). Throughout the book I could see myself in what he was describing, or the actions of my friends. This was especially true in his "Social media is turning you into an asshole" chapter. This book has given me pause as to how much privacy and authenticity I've given up in exchange for using Twitter. It's forced me to acknowledge the dependency and the addiction I have with social media, and forced me to reflect on how much positivity Twitter is actually having on my life.

As to the writing itself - it's not anything spectacular, but it's serviceable. It's written kind of casually, which I liked to be honest. I've never heard Jaron Lanier speak but the writing sounded like someone was speaking to me. Lanier is obviously credible given his professional background and speaks with authority. It was easy to follow and the arguments flowed together. He built on each argument so there was order to it as well. I'll probably go back and re-read a lot of the book to get a firmer grip on everything he talked about. Overall I found the arguments completely convincing. I guess I'll admit the only reason why I haven't ditched social media is because I am addicted. It was a good time for me to read this book as I had already decided to reduce my Twitter/social media time because of Camp NaNoWriMo.

I think anyone who has concerns and/or dependency on social media should read this book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,801 reviews107 followers
September 20, 2018
Book blurb: 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.

Late last year I started to notice that I was not in a good space - mental, emotional or otherwise - and though I'd made several changes over the years as to how I used social media and who I "friended", I realized I wasn't being drastic enough. So took a six month hiatus, and my sense of well being and general mood improved almost overnight. Powerful effects caused by very small changes. I'm back on Instagram, but not in the manner I was before and am still debating this choice, and have permanently walked away from Facebook and Twitter.

I deleted my accounts before picking this book up, and the concepts in this book will not change your mind if you are addicted to social media. Addicts do not change because of information presented to them. That's not how it works. The concepts in this book are worth reading and pondering if you are on social media, and especially if you have kids on these platforms. The facts are not in doubt, and the idea of allowing behavior modifications by unknown entities, all while also being subjected to ads should make us all delete our accounts.

The reason this does not get a higher rating is that the writing itself is rather mediocre. Read this for the information, not for the prose, and see if you don't look up from your screens a little more wary.
Profile Image for Faiza Sattar.
320 reviews103 followers
August 14, 2018
★★★★★ (5/5)

I see some top GR reviews for this book slating the content and in particular, the writing style. I begin to wonder if a book with such a diverse scope deserves to be judged according to what I would call “literary” parameters. Of course to each his own, but for me, this was dense, thought-provoking and a fundamental read - so much so that the very idea of judging the writing style did not cross my mind (and I am quick to judge in this regard).

Lanier’s ideas are rooted, not unhinged from reality nor constructed out of conspiratorial phantasm. He puts forward a tangible theory as to why it is pertinent for us to delete (or diminish considerably) our social media presence, then presents a working hypothesis alongside general and personal observations, citations and concludes with a variety of proofs as to how and why social media has an indefensible and interminable role in our lives, primarily as interlopers.

The core of Lanier’s theories revolve around the realisation that all of social media is directed at influencing & modifying our behaviour, and these behaviour modification tools are solely aimed at churning big bucks for the puppeteers, those who hold the reins to steer the world either this way or that.

Advertisers, bots, fake profiles, incendiary comments, low self esteem, rat-race for likes, little dents or highs for one’s ego are all money making tools no matter how trivial or indirect. Communal feelings are completely dispensed off. In a more open and connected world, individuals are increasingly stifled which threatens progress for the entire human race. Additionally, the concept of free-will is being challenged as social media users become unwitting stooges and lab rats.

Lanier purports that social media has become its own worst enemy, and with that threatens to drown humanity by removing us from reality (or by becoming a mere obstacle in man’s search for reality). The internet in itself is blameless, but the self-indulgent machinations that have been put in place are outweighing the collective good of an interconnected world.

Lanier’s arguments were mindful of the diversity of social media users. And since they weren’t didactic in nature, this book has left an indelible mark on me. I have always consciously steered clear of social media fads, trends, happenings and made it a point to not be affected by momentary lapses of others in which they blindly follow one and then another. But clearly this isn’t enough. I did not delete my social media accounts but removed their apps from my phone which, I observed, minimised my usage of them. Perhaps this is the first step to freedom.

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

Argument One: You are losing your free will.

• We’re being tracked and measured constantly, and receiving engineered feedback all the time.
• Now everyone who is on social media is getting individualized, continuously adjusted stimuli, without a break, so long as they use their smartphones. What might once have been called advertising must now be understood as continuous behavior modification on a titanic scale.
• what has become suddenly normal—pervasive surveillance and constant, subtle manipulation—is unethical, cruel, dangerous, and inhumane.
• Awareness is the first step to freedom.
• Using symbols instead of real rewards has become an essential trick in the behavior modification toolbox.
• Back to the surprising phenomenon: it’s not that positive and negative feedback work, but that somewhat random or unpredictable feedback can be more engaging than perfect feedback.
• The algorithm is trying to capture the perfect parameters for manipulating a brain, while the brain, in order to seek out deeper meaning, is changing in response to the algorithm’s experiments;
• What started as advertising morphed into what would better be called “empires of behavior modification for rent.”

Argument Two: Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.

• Similarly, smart people should delete their accounts until nontoxic varieties are available
• The world is changing rapidly under our command, so doing nothing is not an option. We don’t have as much in the way of rigorous science as would be ideal for understanding our situation, but we have enough results to describe the problem we must solve, just not a lot of time in which to solve it.
• If you hang out in Silicon Valley, you’ll hear a lot of chatter about how money is becoming obsolete, how we’re creating forms of power and influence that transcend money. Yet everybody still seems to be chasing money!
• Underlying incentives tend to overpower policies. The way that people get around rules in order to chase incentives often makes the world into a darker and more dangerous place.
• Invisible social vandalism ensues. Social pressure, which is so influential in human psychology and behavior, is synthesized.

Argument Three: Social media is making you into an asshole.

• The deeply addicted person’s rhythm becomes nervous, a compulsive pecking at his situation; he’s always deprived, rushing for affirmation.
• 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.
• We were all in the same stew, manipulating each other, inflating ourselves.
• Another example: Democratic elections are a genuine commingling of ideas, and have historically helped societies find paths forward despite controversy, but only so long as people are switched to Solitary. Democracy fails when the switch is set to Pack. Tribal voting, personality cults, and authoritarianism are the politics of the Pack setting.
• collective processes make the best sense when participants are acting as individuals.

Argument Four: Social media is undermining truth.

• When what people can be made to perceive is the product sold by some of the richest corporations, then obviously truth must suffer. The loss of truth is the product.

Argument Five: Social media is making what you say meaningless.

• You have to become crazy extreme if you want to say something that will survive even briefly in an unpredictable context.
• To become a number is to be explicitly subservient to a system. A number is a public verification of reduced freedom, status, and personhood.
• too much clickbait lowers the level of public discourse

Argument Six: Social Media is destroying your capacity for empathy.

• Your own views are soothingly reinforced, except when you are presented with the most irritating versions of opposing views, as calculated by algorithms. Soothe or savage: whatever best keeps your attention
• To have a theory of mind is to build a story in your head about what’s going on in someone else’s head. Theory of mind is at the core of any sense of respect or empathy, and it’s a prerequisite to any hope of intelligent cooperation, civility, or helpful politics. It’s why stories exist.
• When you can only see how someone else behaves, but not the experiences that influenced their behavior, it becomes harder to have a theory of mind about that person
• 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.
• Public space lost dimension, but also commonality in general has been desiccated.

Argument Seven: Social media is making you unhappy.

• It will dole out sparse charms in between the doldrums as well, since the autopilot that tugs at your emotions will discover that the contrast between treats and punishment is more effective than either treats or punishment alone
• Your whims and quirks are under the microscope of powers greater than you for the first time
• We in Silicon Valley like to watch the ants dig harder into their dirt. They send us money as we watch

Argument Eight: Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity.

• Gig economy workers rarely achieve financial security, even after years of work. To put it another way, the level of risk in their financial lives seems to never decline, no matter how much they’ve achieved.
• The fantasy of human obsolescence not only undervalues people, but often makes supposed AI programs less functional because no one is motivated to improve the underlying data.

Argument Nine: Social media is making politics impossible.

• BUMMER undermines the political process and hurts millions of people, but so many of those very same people are so addicted that all they can do is praise BUMMER because they can use it to complain about the catastrophes it just brought about.
• What social media did at that time, and what it always does, is create illusions: that you can improve society by wishes alone; that the sanest people will be favored in cutting contests; and that somehow material well-being will just take care of itself. What actually happens, always, is that the illusions fall apart when it is too late, and the world is inherited by the crudest, most selfish, and least informed people. Anyone who isn’t an asshole gets hurt the most.
• Gangs had ruled history’s many killing fields, but now, loners were “self-radicalizing.”
• They get enough attention to outpace the well-meaning people who just won victories. They exhume horrible prejudices and hatreds that haven’t seen the light of day for years, and they make those hatreds mainstream.
• BUMMER is neither liberal nor conservative; it is just pro-paranoia, pro-irritability, and pro–general assholeness.
• It’s as if Facebook is saying, “Pay us or you don’t exist.” They’re becoming the existential mafia.
• What made them shift to be more targetable by behavior modification messages over time? The purpose was not to repress the movement but to earn money. The process was automatic, routine, sterile, and ruthless.
• A slice of latent white supremacists and racists who had previously not been well identified, connected, or empowered was blindly, mechanically discovered and cultivated, initially only for automatic, unknowing commercial gain—but that would have been impossible without first cultivating a slice of BUMMER black activism and algorithmically figuring out how to frame it as a provocation.
• A social media company is in a better position if it doesn’t know what’s going on, because then it makes just as much money, but with less culpability.

Argument Ten: Social media hates your soul.

• Your understanding of others has been disrupted because you don’t know what they’ve experienced in their feeds, while the reverse is also true; the empathy others might offer you is challenged because you can’t know the context in which you’ll be understood. You’re probably becoming more of an asshole, but you’re also probably sadder; another pair of BUMMER disruptions that are mirror images. Your ability to know the world, to know truth, has been degraded, while the world’s ability to know you has been corrupted
• You might launch an infectious meme about a political figure, and you might be making a great point, but in the larger picture, you are reinforcing the idea that virality is truth. Your point will be undone by whatever other point is more viral
• Acknowledging ignorance is a beautiful feature that science and spirituality hold in common. BUMMER rejects it
• The purpose of life, according to BUMMER, is to optimize. According to Google: “Organize the world’s information.” But per the typical Silicon Valley worldview, everything is information. Matter will be hacked, the human body will be hacked, and so on. Therefore, Google’s mission statement reads, within tech culture, as “Organize all reality.”
• Facebook has pulled ahead: A recent revision in its statement of purpose includes directives like assuring that “every single person has a sense of purpose and community.”5 A single company is going to see to it that every single person has a purpose, because it presumes that was lacking before. If that is not a new religion, I don’t know what is
• if you perceive a sense of positivity, of grace and progressive creativity in the world, then perhaps experience connects to more
• The BUMMER business is interwoven with a new religion that grants empathy to computer programs—calling them AI programs—as a way to avoid noticing that it is degrading the dignity, stature, and rights of real humans.
• If you design a society to suppress belief in consciousness and experience—to reject any exceptional nature to personhood—then maybe people can become like machines.
• “In many ways nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth. Anyone can believe in the truth. To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.”
Profile Image for Max.
734 reviews17 followers
January 9, 2022
I absolutely HATED this book. As most people, I often think about the use of socal media and I think about deleting my accounts sometimes. I checked out this book to read some more about social media, but I wish I didn't.

The author writes in a condescending and arrogant tone. The book is badly written, badly edited (what's with the horrible referencing style? Every^1 word^ has^ a^ reference^, so annoying!). And the author makes a point of trying to prove social media is bad, but then goes on "explaining" why LinkedIn is better. LinkedIn is just the same piece of shit, but then trying to hide it under the idea of bringing employees and employers together. Loads of chapters are filler nonsense. They all end with "Delete your social media accounts.". And I can never read the word BUMMER again without getting extremely annoyed.

So I liked the idea of the book, but the execution has really annoyed me. I am a voracious reader and almost never DNF a book, so I finished this, but it was not worth it.
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