I just finished Jaron Lanier’s book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and I found it so convincing, that I deleted my Twitter accounts immediately.
Everyone knows they sell your data, but Lanier goes further and explains how, purely in the name of ‘engagement’ with advertising, the algorithms engage in massive-scale behaviour-modification. None of the humans behind these corporations are acting in order to degrade social discourse, at an individual or society-wide level, but that’s the side-effect.
The solution is to abandon the advertising model and actually pay for services, thereby removing the need to modify user behaviour. He also points to LinkedIn as somewhat immune, thanks to its focus on professional, rather than purely social, engagement (you’re not competing for popularity). I’ll leave my LinkedIn account where it is, then, just update it more.
It’s only been a couple of days as I post this, but already I’m aware of my urge to narrate my day and inner monologue on Twitter, and the freedom I’m gaining by not bothering. If I want to share Billie Lourd’s piece for Time about her mother, Carrie Fisher, or my love for Michael Kiwanuka’s new album, I can write a blog post. It might force me to be more considered about it, and if I can’t be bothered, then there’s no loss to humanity if I simply don’t.
No one reads this blog, true, but then no one read my Twitter, and taking the time and space to organise my thoughts is more valuable to me than the addictive posting of half-formed musings in a needlessly provocative, attention-seeking tone.