Last summer, after I broke up with my phone, I proceeded to read a number of really great books about how technology, particularly social media, is affecting us humans, both on an individual level and as a culture. One of my favorites of these books is Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” It’s short and sweet, and packed with a ton of information. Jaron Lanier is a pioneer in the field of virtual reality and knows what he is talking about regarding this subject. I won’t break the book down for you because it’s short enough that you can read it all yourself in a day, but I would really encourage you to read it. Even if you don’t delete your accounts (which I have yet to do), you will be have a better understanding of how the big internet companies like Google and Facebook and messing with our minds and, according to Lanier, destroying our culture. Here is a link to a great talk that Lanier gave on this subject. It’s long, but totally worth watching.
Several months after reading it this is what stuck with me: We are not the customers of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google. Advertisers are the actual customers. We are providing the content for the websites. FOR FREE. And in the meantime we are being completely fucked with so that we will purchase things from the advertisers. This is the new advertising model. It has become totally ok for advertisers to creepily spy on us and follow us around the web so they can market their product to us. THIS PISSES ME OFF. And the shitty thing about this is that IT WORKS.
So after reading all of these books and taking the red pill I am feeling all of these feels about participating in this horror show. I feel pulled in different directions. On the one hand I care about my friends that I connect with on these platforms, but on the other hand GODDAMNIT I don’t appreciate my brain being hacked and manipulated for profit! One of the ways that I’ve compromised is that I have deleted social media from my phone and I have pretty much broken up with Google. I refuse to use Chrome or Google search (I’m using Firefox and Duck Duck Go which are both awesome) and I’ve moved over to ProtonMail. I’ve been able to use social media through Firefox on my phone and I’m happy with the way this is working. With one exception: Instagram. I love IG more than the others but I really do not want to have it on my phone. Instead I have it on my iPad, which is a good compromise, I think.
And I’ve noticed the advertising on Instagram when I view the app on my iPad. I’ll be mindlessly scrolling through the feed, thinking everything is fine, and then BAM, I’m hit with an ad and it’s literally the perfect thing for me, whatever it is. It’s this thing that I never knew I needed. As I mentioned above, this advertising method WORKS! But damn, it’s so sneaky and creepy and evil.
Anyway. Read the book.