I’ve made it no secret that I’m incredibly critical of social media. It’s been years since I’ve had a Facebook account. Technically, I do have a Twitter account, but it’s just so that I can follow some people through RSS. I recently read Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and large pieces of it were preaching to the choir, but Lanier takes a more nuanced approach and says that he doesn’t think that social media is the problem, but the modern manipulative business practices of the companies that run them.
Making a bit of news this past week, the brand Lush has taken itself off of social media, for, at least, a year. From the BBC’s Lush to stop some social media until it’s ‘safer’:
Lush said the “serious effects” of social media were barely being acknowledged and compared the situation to when “climate change was ignored and belittled for decades”.
In particular, Mr Constantine [Lush’s CEO and co-founder] highlighted algorithms that kept showing users content that had a potential to impact their mental health by exacerbating unhealthy thoughts.
“They’re becoming something that you are so easily addicted to,” he added.
I think that his comparison to climate change denialism is a tad off, as I personally know people right now that don’t think that climate change is being accelerated by humanity, but I’ve never had a conversation with someone who disagreed with me that social media was damaging democracy. However, his point being something-must-be-done, is well made. His points about addiction are also apt, as the big names in social media work tirelessly to drive “engagement”, which is manipulating people to stay glued to their sites reading whatever self indulgent nonsense the algorithms can bring them.