Are you part of the solution?

If you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2017/02/nextstep/

This rant from Seth is a couple years old, but it remains as important as ever.

I talk often about the problems with social networks. But what I’m particularly interested in is what, (if anything,) actually works to change people’s minds. I bet you can guess what works: Basically, nothing works.

I wasted a lot of time trying to explain the problems with social networks using facts and rational arguments. You know how far I got with that. One day, I stopped trying to educate and explain, and started trying to plant seeds. Little seeds of inquisition. Little seeds of self-awareness.

How do you feel when you are not on that social network?

And how do you feel after it ate your face for 2 hours?

Do you like the way you look, all hunched over with spine twisted and your face completely facing the ground?

Could you make progress on your dream if you could just find 10 hours of time a week? (As if you only spent 10 hours on social networks this week.)

Hold your phone facing you at arms length. Look just to one side and notice the actual amount of your immediate world which it occupies. How do you feel about only living within that small fraction of your world?

Visualize your death bed. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.) Now begin to list your imagined regrets as you lay dying. (Seriously. I’ll wait.) Which items on your list were related, in any way, to online social networks?

You have Seth’s thoughts. You now have my thoughts. Do you have any thoughts of your own?

Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?

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Real satisfaction

Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something—the book you’re writing, the album, the movie—and staying there for a long, long time.

~ Steven Pressfield

The emperor has no clothes

These contrived notifications were the “Emperor wears no clothes” moment for me. It became obvious then that Facebook knows its users have better things to do, and quietly hopes they don’t notice how little they get out of it. It knows that most of the value it delivers is on the level of lab-rat food pellets: small, scheduled hits of gratification we’ve learned to expect many times a day.

~ David Cain, from http://www.raptitude.com/2017/06/want-more-time-get-rid-of-the-easiest-way-to-spend-it/

I can tell you now there has been no change in the amount of human interaction since I left the last of the social networks.

Want to see how addicted you really are? Clear you home screen.

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In real life

Yet many modern-day Westerners — who will live their whole lives with freedom of speech and the means to talk to almost anyone about anything — remain convinced they are essentially powerless to improve human life around the world, and use their internet access primarily to share pictures of cats.

~ David Cain, from http://www.raptitude.com/2014/11/the-gift/

I recently deleted my Facebook account; Not, “deleted the app from my phone,” but deleted my account so I am no longer on Facebook. That was the last of the social networks I was on.

My life is measurably better now without social networks. I still have this inconceivably amazing tool in my pocket which I use regularly to leverage the hard-won advantages of the human race in 2019. I still use that tool, (and other tools, including my feet and a bicycle,) to collapse the distance between me and those I want to communicate with.

I look forward to seeing you in the big room with the ceiling that’s sometimes blue and sometimes black!

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Unfollowing everyone

No matter what we think of each other, maybe it isn’t at all important that I follow you, or that you follow me. We are both elsewhere, in more complete forms. Let’s find each other there.

~ David Cain, from https://www.raptitude.com/2019/04/the-life-changing-magic-of-unfollowing-almost-everybody/

Having recently completed the last step of a complete exodus from my personal participation in social networks, I can now say: I have no idea wether I’m interacting more or less with other humans, and I do not care. I’m less stressed and I don’t miss it. I feel so much better just never going to those spaces.

But, wow did I used to spend time there.

It’s almost as if the multi-billion-dollar companies know so much about manipulating human behavior that I was literally unable derive benefit. It’s almost as if I was simply a battery plugged into their matrix.

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Social network or social media?

The Lesson: This first insight is in truly learning that social media is much more of a mindless habit — and a very strongly ingrained one — than a pleasurable or fulfilling activity. We do it out of compulsion rather than intention.

~ Brett McKay, from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/4-lessons-from-a-4-week-social-media-fast/

Back when we invented all this online bru-ha-ha, they were called “social networks.” I think we should still be using the word network rather than media, because then it would remain clear: A healthy community necessarily has a network of people, but a network of people is not sufficient to create a healthy community.

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Don’t believe the hype

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/d-b-t-h-dont-believe-the-hype/

I’ve read far too many stories put out by “prestige” news organizations that merely amount to: “This prominent person tweeted this. These random people responded with these tweets. This person made a meme out of it.” This is literally the entire content of the article. It is paragraphs of text devoid of meaning and significance. Just hype masquerading as journalism. But consume enough of it and it can shape your world view, where you feel like something is happening, but nothing actually is.

~ Brett McKay

A large part of my personal change has been driven by my changing what information I consume. There are very few things, people, or places which are able to “insert” information in front of me. The vast majority of information sources—and I’m using information here in the broadest sense—are all set up so that I access them. I access them the way I get water from the sink tap. I go to it. I act to begin the flow. I choose how much and at what rate it flows.

There’s no longer any hype coming out of my sink taps.

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The apocalypse is already here

https://m.signalvnoise.com/the-ai-apocalypse-is-already-here-3bd3267cc151

We’re made increasingly miserable because connect-the-world imperialists are unleashing machine learning on our most vulnerable and base impulses. A constant loop of refinement that prods our psyche for weak spots, and then exploits them with maximal efficiency. All in the service of selling ads for cars, shampoo, or political discord.

~ David Hansson

Sometimes it’s nice to stop worrying about the existential threat of the rise of the machines…

…and to instead worry about the existential threat of people doing stupid things.

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On blame

http://www.raptitude.com/2009/11/blame-is-useless/

What I like about that phrase, “I hate the person who invented Mondays,” is that it reveals the absurdity of one of our very human habits. We have a tendency to find some part of our environment to scold — a person or thing — whenever we run into some kind of problem in our lives. Something unpleasant happens unexpectedly, and the emotion of blame arises. We search for a source to our suffering, and fix our dislike on it and align ourselves against it, as if our sheer, bitter ill-will can transmute a part of life we hate into something we like.

~ David Cain

It’s important for me to distinguish between cause and blame. Cause—it seems to me—is something I can work at picking apart. It’s unlikely I’d have a full understanding of cause-and-effect in any random situation, (“why exactly did that guy just spill his beer on me,” is pretty complicated after all,) but picking at the threads of the seemingly unknowable knot-that-is-the-cause… That tends to lead me to a more thoughtful view of the world. And a more thoughtful view invariably leads me to a more optimistic view of the world.

Here’s a tangential thought as an example: Is it “Western Civilization” that is taking over the world? Or is it “Best Civilization” is taking over, and the areas we label “western” have just gotten to the ideas [all, some, or just one in particular under discussion] first? If I ditch, “who’s to blame,” for the specific changes in civilization which I dislike [think: social media] and instead ask, “what is causing that change?”… well, that changes my view of things significantly.

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A big part of their vapid and shallow social lives

https://rework.fm/dont-like-this/

I think what I notice with people who are a little older is it’s really easy for them to dismiss social media as, like, this vapid and shallow thing in which you’re trying to get likes and engagement, but what they don’t realize is it’s like a huge part of some people’s social lives and it’s, like, very much a part of how you see this world and interact with the world. And it’s not just “oh I wanna get likes to, like, seem cool” it’s like “Oh, this is my social life in many ways, and it has been for a very long time.” And that’s kinda how I view applause at basecamp in many ways, too; It’s like my social life at work.

~ Tara Mann

Exactly!

It is really easy to dismiss social media, because it is vapid and shallow.

The insight here is that eventually you too will stop acting like a 14-year-old, become an adult, realize social media is vapid and shallow, and then dismiss it easily.

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