Here are my notes on Jaron Lanier’s 10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. After I finished reading the book, I’ve discussed the thesis with several people; one of them dismissed it as radical and sent me this essay by The Wall Street Journal’s sports columnist Jason Gay: The Key to Peace on Social Media: That Mute Button.
I realize that most people who read Lanier’s book and deeply consider its clear call to action will not immediately rush to delete their Facebook accounts. Most nicotine addicts do not quit smoking after reading the Surgeon General’s warning. Many “social smokers” tell themselves that they smoke too infrequently to worry about the risks. They are free to smoke. But the warning isn’t radical and the recommendation to simply use the product differently (e.g., hit the “mute” button on Instagram or switch to menthol cigarettes) represents a denial of the depth of the problem.
In defense of radical ideas, consider this: In the Attention Economy, the new scarce resource is mostly stolen rather than transparently traded. The less you think about the kleptocracies that victimize you, the more you tolerate them. After a while, you accept them as normal. To reclaim what you’ve lost, you first need to acknowledge the theft.