I recently wrote about my choice to take a one-month hiatus from all social media (or rather, the scant social sites I’m on these days), and how that’s almost definitely going to be more widely permanent since I’d been listening to Jaron Lanier.
If you haven’t taken the time to read that post of mine, you should. And if you read it but didn’t check out any of Lanier’s stuff, you really should. He effectively explains about how negative data-mining/selling social media have become instead of what they could’ve/should’ve been.
It had occurred to me that there are some of you faithful readers of my site who would point out that Hey, Lanier’s just one guy with just one guy’s opinion. What if he’s totally wrong about how social media work and how negative they can be?
Today’s Briefing Day newsletter has a link to this interesting interview with Ellen K. Pao, who briefly headed up Reddit and who has some CEO-level insight about how it and other social media sites operate. In brief, she says they do so by promoting and expanding negative content, with the person/people in charge initially reluctant to make changes–under the pretense of free speech, but with that model of repeated and expanding negative content just happening to engage people and keep the site popular and buzz-worthy and making the company a ton of money–then sometimes finally bowing to pressure and announcing changes to cut down on the negative aspects and outcomes of the sites’ use, but often too little too late and sometimes still not done at all.
To anyone who did check out the Lanier interviews and talks: Sound familiar?
So now we have a cutting edge tech specialist plus a former social media CEO both saying the same thing about how (ad/data-selling) social media operate and what has happened online, and more concerningly in society itself, as a result. And their collective conclusions are… how to put it?… really, really not good.
I quit Facebook months ago over this kind of thing even before I’d seen Lanier’s take on such stuff, but since seeing the Lanier content, I’ve been noodling on pros and cons of bothering to stay on Twitter, as well. And there are pros, as touched on in that same post of mine. But do those pros outweigh the huge cons of supporting a site that does what Twitter does?
As it was with Facebook, it seems the biggest hurdle I’ve got to contend with in considering quitting Twitter is FOMO. Which is, of course, part of social media sites’ design: “Hey, look at all the cool stuff and familiar/interesting people on here. Don’t you want to join? And once you do, don’t you want to stay? Because if not, you’re totes missing out.”
There are legitimately things I’d miss on Twitter, but the more I weigh everything out, the more I think I’d have trouble justifying (even to myself) supporting it and how it operates just because I’d like to read funny posts and stay informed on various peoples’ take on stuff and have quick access to information like transit schedules and delays.
This is the internet. I’ve heard there are other ways to get those things. And, in regard to peoples’ own websites, they can sometimes be found in far more depth and nuance than can be conveyed via Twitter’s character limit.
And then I take a step back and look at everything and everyone in the real world around me and realize that at its core, Twitter a hollow time-suck that distracts me from real life and is something I’d almost assuredly be better off walking away from. Without the echoed negativity and snark and without wondering if the experience I just had or funny thing I just thought of is tweet-worthy.
Also, related side note: How many hours of my own life am I going to spend mulling over leaving it and writing about it all here?
Time, I think, to stop with the lengthy introspection about stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter the way so much else in the world does.
Time to make a choice, live with it, and move on.