This is of course a correct take. But it’s just fascinating to me to reflect on how much backlash opinions like this received even 2-3 years ago. The “relational value” of social media, the idea that it’s an invaluable dialogue, is a complete illusion. Once you understand this, the argument for quitting entirely is the same argument for not watching a movie you dislike or subscribing to a channel that annoys you. The illusion of epistemic value is all that’s keeping people on websites like Twitter. And that illusion just gets thinner everyday.
Questions for discussions:
How has your relationship to social media changed over the past 5 years?
How many people in your circle have scaled back or quit social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) in the last year or two?
Is there any place in a well-lived life for social media, and what does that look like?
1. I dropped all of it (unless you count a Discord support group I've helped facilitate). Deleted FB, LinkedIn, and whatever else (I still have an empty Twitter account for use at conferences, but I'm not sure if this is even a thing anymore). What little value I could possibly argue was far outweighed by the negatives.
2. No one? I remain an oddity to them.
3. Now THAT'S a good question. I don't see it, not as long as developers continue to code manipulative algorithms from psychological data. That data is liquid gold; a river fueling an entire industry. There's no incentive to stop, and I cringe to suggest legislative efforts because the law lags far behind the technological curve.
I've often wondered if the primary problem with social media is the ubiquitous and global aspect of it. Perhaps smaller is better? A curated community that is not mined for their data eliminates much of the toxicity found in broader social media platforms.
1. Far more controlled/withdrawn. I'm far more skeptical that there's much good to be had in that space. Facebook is dead to me now. It was not five years ago.
2. There's more shifting than quitting. But it's not uncommon to hear people quitting.
3. I don't feel equipped to definitively answer this for all people. I'm skeptical, to say the least. I'm VERY skeptical that any form of engagement beyond 15 minutes in a day or so is anything beyond deformative.
My answers would almost mirror the previous two commentators.
1. I dropped all of it. I only had Facebook and LinkedIn ever to begin with. Dropping them has been the best decision I ever made. And never picking up Twitter or Instagram was a blessing in disguise. Part of the reason they also have been distant from me is that I have never had a smart phone until about a year ago. And at that point, I was unwilling to pay more than $50 for a phone or for data. So I have a $35 Samsung knock-off with a subscription to Spotify so I can use "Offline" mode. That is literally the only app I have on the phone.
2. I have one friend who jumps on and off Facebook every so often. Besides that, it seems pretty embedded in my circles. Only one person I know even considers talking about the negative consequences of social media. Everyone else seems to just accept it as part of life.
3. I think there is potential for a well-lived life for social media if it can be another tool in communicating among real-life, in person communities. For example, a social-media platform that exists within a church that all members are a part of. So super localized. That would be the ONLY place I can think of it potentially "working."
1. I've posted much, much less, and almost no opinion. I've gravitated away from Twitter, and never really had much time for Instagram. Facebook is used most, but not often.
2. Several have scaled back, but more have ramped up their involvement. I sense that there are no shortages of strong opinion, but also that people are more brazen to broadcast them behind a screen. COVID and the Trump presidency have played the greatest influence here, I believe.
3. I see REAL value in social media when communicating details that must be correct but only available from certain individuals. For example, communicating the health status of a loved one, or perhaps the particulars of a change in life (job, relocation) can be very helpful. The facts come straight from the horse's mouth, and the message is controlled with as much or as little detail as necessary.
3b. I do enjoy creativity and good news, and I think social media can provide outlets for both to be promoted. But I fear the cost of that availability is that negativity, narcissism, and clickbait conspiracy theories which travel much, much faster (and probably always will). The latter, I'm afraid, outweighs the former.