Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

(New York: Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2018), 146

BUMMER: Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent

Argument 1: You are losing your free will

  • What used to be called advertising is now continuous behavior modification
  • Randomization helps with optimization of algorithms and contributes to their addictive nature

Argument 2: Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times

  • The problem isn’t smartphones or the internet, but business models that rely on individual behavior change
  • BUMMER acronym: "Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent"
  • Components of the BUMMER machine

    • Attention Acquisition leading to Asshole supremacy

    • Butting into everyone's lives

    • Cramming content down people's throats

    • Directing people's behaviors in the sneakiest way possible

    • Earning money from letting the worst assholes secretly screw with everyone else

    • Fake mobs and Faker society

Argument 3: Social media is making you into an asshole

  • Trump: “he is not acting like the most powerful person in the world because his addiction [to Twitter] is more powerful”
  • Choose technologies based on the person you become around them
  • Since social media has taken off, assholes have a bigger say in the world

Argument 4: Social media is undermining truth

  • “Fake people are the cultural version of a DDOS attack”

Argument 5: Social media is making what you say meaningless

  • BUMMER replaces your context with the platform's context

Argument 6: Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy

  • Customized feeds remove our social cohesion since we are all looking at something different
  • The version of the world you are seeing is invisible to the people who misunderstand you, and vise versa
  • We seen crazy to each other because BUMMER is robbing us of our "theories of mind"

Argument 7: Social media is making you unhappy

  • Social media robs us of the ability to carve out a space to invent oneself without constant judgment

Argument 8: Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity

  • BUMMER agreement: "let us spy on you and you’ll get free services"

Argument 9: Social media is making politics impossible

  • MLK’s arc of progress of history is collapsing

Argument 10: Social media hates your soul

  • “Spirituality can usually coexist a little more easily with Enlightenment [ways of learning not subservient to human power hierarchies] thinking” (130)

    • "The cultures of sciences and engineering used to embrace Enlightenment epistemology, but now they have been overridden by horribly regressive BUMMER epistemology." (130)

  • “The foundation of the search for truth must be the ability acknowledge one’s own ignorance”
  • BUMMER replaces spirituality with its own designs
  • “This is not just metaphysics, but metaphysical imperialism”
  • AI is a fantasy, it has no objective criteria for success
  • The fundamental question is “what is a person” (137)

    • How he reconciles his views "on the specialness of people with my support of Abortion rights": The Latest Innocent Embryo to Protect: Harriet Miers

    • Secular Religion: "The BUMMER business is interwoven with a new religion that grants empathy to computer programs—calling them AI programs—as a way to avoid noticing that it is degrading the dignity, stature, and rights of real humans." (138)

Conclusion

  • You can’t use the internet well until you’ve encountered it on your own terms

Created: 2021-11-30-Tue
Updated: 2022-02-24-Thu