Some months ago, Lanier gave people very heavy reasons to delete their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts or at least, he suggested to limit the usage of these platforms if the willpower over oneself is strong. I doubt it, because social media doesn’t help us on developing or reinforcing willpower and other virtues. Let’s explain why in a full scale.
Lanier knows personally the people who contributed on the creation of social media as we know it nowadays and the whole business model that is behind which is designed to get people attached and addicted. As a social media manager myself I had an idea on how these platforms work negatively in our subconscious mind but hearing and reading what Jaron Lanier thinks about them just reinforce what I’ve already suspected.
The “manipulation machine” behind social media platforms knows almost everything about you. The Facebook newsfeed is always sending you very pleasing content (what you want to see) and then, a minute later it sends you something hostile or against your values. Why? because they want you to react, so you create more engagement and this allows Facebook (as a company) to know even more about you, and to have more power and control over your subconscious mind. If you are unaware of this manipulation cycle, your mental health could be in danger.
Social media can control (at some point) your status insecurities or create new ones when you compare your life to the utopian stuff the majority of your contacts post on their profiles. It creates a necessity to post something that makes you look better than them. If you don’t get nearly the attention and recognition (likes and comments) that you were expecting, you’ll feel depressed and alienated.
The awful algorithm doesn’t benefit your anonymity, since it makes you appear in the “people you may know” list of someone you’ve just checked their profile once. It almost tells other people when you sneak on their profiles for some reason! It also facilitates your personal info to advertisers to keep them showing you those annoying ads on the newsfeed over and over again.
Facebook business model at first place was utilized to keep people using the platform a lot. But now this strategy has turned against its creators for financial reasons. The more users and engagement, the more money they got, but nowadays people are being more aware of the manipulation and they are quitting social media for their own good, or they are consuming it less.
Facebook is not the novelty anymore. Each day that goes on, more and more people realize the hidden manipulation strategy. People are more jaded about advertising, the false sense of companionship, and that weird feeling that something is messing up with their privacy. It’s the algorithm!
On the other hand, Lanier says that social media has lots of good things when we use it correctly and when we are aware of the manipulation machine. That's why he suggests us to take a considerable break from it until we change our perception about it and about real life.
It is important to know that there are new forms of socialization which evolve with technology, but this fact doesn’t mean that our natural instinct to socialize face to face will be completely replaced by digital ways. Human beings have the necessity to have real interactions on their daily basis. It is not bad to take a considerable break from social media if you haven’t done it or if you feel that you are falling under the jaws of this relentless business model.
For further information, I invite you to search about Jaron Lanier’s views on social media and the internet.