Why You Should Delete Your Social Media Accounts Today

Imagine an experiment in which a lab rat is running through a maze, hoping to find a bit of cheese at the end. The creature will go to great lengths to achieve that small dopamine hit, and to avoid the electric shock at the end of the wrong path.

As simplistic as this scenario seems, we as humans are very much like the laboratory rat when we engage with social media. We receive positive feedback, such as likes, and comments–little squirts of dopamine that light up our brain, quite similar to sugar, gambling, and heroine. We also receive negative feedback, such as radio silence and the highlight reel of someone who’s prettier, wealthier, and presumably more fun that us. Both the negative and positive feedback can influence our behavior in significant ways.

Quitting social media means beating the addition, making a political statement, defining social life, and giving the big companies an opportunity to restructure into a more mutually-beneficial entity.

American computer philosophy writer and computer scientist Jaron Lanier believes that society tends to view Facebook as a government-like structure that informs who we should connect with, which events we should attend, and whose stories are most valuable for us to read. People think that Facebook is something that we need to use. However, Facebook is not a democracy, and the user ultimately has little influence on how the site evolves, according to figures such as Facebook’s former President, Sean Parker.

“Facebook excels at applying addictive design techniques more than it does in innovating value that the internet can offer.”

-Jaron Lanier, Be a pioneer – delete Facebook

Jaron refers to social networking site and search engines as “behavior modification empires,” insisting that that the current state of affairs is based on a bad decision three decades ago, rather than evil companies. The poor decision was to build the internet out as a public commons with free and equal access to resources, while also supporting the technology entrepreneurs who were looking to make a profit. Many early innovators look back with regret, realizing now that their dreams of freely-accessible information carried a cost for the user: invasions of privacy and invisible behavioral modification.

Imagine a hypothetical world of “peak social media,” which would mirror the offerings and convenience services like Netflix and Spotify. What might that look like? Jaron suggest that if social media sites were to emulate the subscription or micro-payment platforms, you would have access to useful, authoritative medical advice instead of pseudo-experts. It might mean that you could get factual information, rather than a bunch of weird conspiracy theories or fake news. The world of “peak social media” is a wonderful possibility, and many technology leader believe that it is, in fact, possible.

However, reaching this pinnacle of human-technology interaction will require that we remake the internet. It’s likely that the companies, like Google and Facebook, would actually do even better in this world if they were to implement a model that serves the customer at a small cost, rather than sucking and selling the data of users.

Study after study as shown that humans are feeling more isolated and depressed than ever before. Online interactions often lack the depth of true friendship, and stymie us from engaging our real lives in meaningful ways. Rather than attending an art show, visiting a coffee shop or meeting up with online friends, we scroll hopelessly for hours waiting for that next little hit of dopamine.

Jaron Lanier’s latest book is set for release in May 2018: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. The book will elaborate and dig into the following pillar arguments on why your life will be better when you choose to leave these behavior modification empires in favor of true connections.

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

  1. You are losing your free will.
  2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.
  3. Social media is making you into an asshole.
  4. Social media is undermining truth.
  5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.
  6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.
  7. Social media is making you unhappy.
  8. Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity.
  9. Social media is making politics impossible.
  10. Social media hates your soul.

I deleted every social media account with the exception of Facebook in 2014, and I’ve been inactive on Facebook during that time period. In fact, I deleted all data–status updates, photos, comments, likes on other peoples’ status, events attended, and more–and have have all but hit the “delete” button.

I can tell you from personal experience, I don’t miss the news stream on Twitter and deleting LinkedIn hasn’t made me unemployable; without Instagram and Pinterest, I’ve learned to find beauty in my own life; I remember which books I’ve read without GoodReads, and can still download my favorite songs without Spotify. Life has gone on, and I can definitely saw I’m happier and less anxious than I’ve ever been.

I’ll be pulling the final plug on Facebook this weekend, after collecting the contact info of a few friends. I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated another digital milestone as much as this. The reason that I’m excited is that I am giving myself the opportunity to invent a life that is not reliant on Facebook. I get to be a pioneer, exploring a new land and blazing the way for others. I could be an example to others of what life could be like without Facebook.

Our current pace and direction, as it relates to social media, is going to be our demise if we don’t make some serious changes. The current model is unsustainable.

We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them.

-Jaron Lanier, How we need to remake the internet

What are your thoughts? Do you still use social media and, if so, do you find value in it?

23 thoughts on “Why You Should Delete Your Social Media Accounts Today

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  1. This is relatable. I feel like this is a mobile phone society we’re living in. *PINGS* and *BEEPS* every 2 minutes. I feel like we aren’t enjoying life, just coasting. I feel more aware of the “control” social media has over us, from your blog. Look forward to reading more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by! It’s true, we’re inundated with this state of perpetual distraction and trying to present ourselves in a particular way, rather than chasing our passions and embracing our truest nature. I hope that the awareness grows; even if people don’t leave social media (which is admitted a big step), just being aware of the downsides can help us regain control. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Such an interesting, thought provoking read! I agree as a society we all seem to be addicted to scrolling & liking. Although for me, I also use my facebook to keep in touch with friends and family who since I’ve moved from the UK to the US is a great way to keep in touch! Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve heard lots of articles recently about why Facebook should be deleted though in terms of information being used in ways that it shouldn’t etc. interesting topic indeed!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this post very much. A refreshing dose of common sense. I dislike social media and do my best to keep my distance from it, even though I have accounts on both Twitter and Facebook…however infrequently used they may be. Very thoughtful. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excluding WordPress, which, it seems isn’t classified as social media, I have no other social media accounts. I deleted FaceBook four years ago (give or take) and the only entity that questioned my move away from FB was… WordPress! It finally got tired of warning me that there was an error connecting to my FB account, etc. I also boycott Amazon and GoodReads. There are enough dictatorial controllers and would-be controllers everywhere without adding social media to the noxious mix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I entirely agree. I deleted nearly all social media over four years ago, and finally pulled the plug on Facebook about two months ago. I feel like WordPress is different than most social media–conversations are deeper and more transparent, there are fewer pretenses and facades, and there’s not yet (that I know of) intense data-mining and behavioral modification. Blogging feels like a meadow and compared to the big cities of Facebook and Instagram…it’s peaceful, introspective, and helps me recognize the beauty of life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi! Oh my goodness, I can absolutely relate to this post! I’ve got social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc, and while I admit that I haven’t closed or deleted any of them, I can confidently say that I hardly ever visit or check in. And when I do, it’s to touch base with a tiny handful of people who aren’t intense, angry, negative, etc. But even that brief check-in on those select few people is rare–every few months or so. I used to be on social media much more often, but after getting pulled into a couple of big-drama fights on Twitter, I found social media to be a painful and unpleasant place. And whenever I check in, I find that I can’t stay long at all, because of what you described – and I can’t stand anyone telling me what to see, which pages to like, who to follow, who to invite, and so on. Combined with the ads (“sponsored posts”) and other “suggestions” and the endless scrolling of notifications and feeds, it gets really overwhelming, boring, and saturating. I’ve had enough. I used to be on social media daily, to the point where I used to wonder if I could ever break away and I would daydream about how nice it would be to get away, and I used to try to remember what my life was like before social media…but not anymore (!), and I feel so much freer now! 😁😁

    Like

    1. Reducing how much you use social media is just as valuable as deleting all together–it’s all about the self-disciple and making the active decision to log in, rather than doing it instinctively. It’s it funny how we wonder whether we even can step away from social media, but feel so much freer when we do? You’re doing great just recognizing that there’s more to life than endless scrolling. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. You nailed it. I do feel so much freer now that I’m not spending time on social media. I think I’ve posted all of 4 times on Facebook in the past 3.5 months. I used to post 3-7 times a day or so 😳. And that was down from before, when I couldn’t even tell you how many times I used to post because it was so many 😳. But, starting in 2011 (I joined in 2009), I began what I called “Operation Facebook Unhook” 😂, and unsubscribed from 250 pages and groups, stopped playing all 3 games I’d been playing, and deleted a bunch of people I had only friended to play the games with. Oh my, that felt awesome. Then in 2016, I left FB to spend more time on Twitter. After a conflict in that community that left me wounded, I stopped logging on to Twitter but never picked FB back up. I’m feeling pretty free 😁

        You’re so right, too, about the mindless scrolling vs the more mindful usage!

        And on a final note, I’m loving your blog! 😍💗

        Liked by 1 person

  6. In order of frequency of use, I access WordPress, Facebook, and Goodreads. I am highly unlikely to increase the number of social media I access. I find it highly amusing that the majority of posts I read advocating using less social media or giving them up altogether are accompanied by links to the poster’s numerous social media platforms.

    Like

    1. Quote: “I find it highly amusing that the majority of posts I read advocating using less social media or giving them up altogether are accompanied by links to the poster’s numerous social media platforms.”

      So do I!!!:-D

      Liked by 2 people

    2. “I advise you not to use social media, but… if you do, follow me here!!” I see that all the time and also find it quite amusing, as well. Like everything, moderation is key. I think the trouble with social media is that the brightest minds are actively tracking our behaviors and researching how to manipulate the psychological reward system in order to manipulate our clicks, purchases, and posts. I, personally, want to be as far-removed from that system as possible because, even with a background in psychology, I didn’t always notice the small nudges pushing me in a particular direction… and I find that frightening. I’m truly curious to see how social media unfolds in the years to come, and whether people become more deeply embedded in their “online persona” or step back and reclaim their “real world” life. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that there is a movement towards the latter.

      Liked by 1 person

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