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Teens who refuse to use social media (theguardian.com)
453 points by pmoriarty 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 362 comments



I absolutely abhor the current state of social media and its usage by young people. As a teenager myself, I have both experienced and observed the negative influences of these outlets and consider their existence unethical. Far too often have these apps condoned terrible deeds while encouraging foolish acts of vanity. As a young person, you feel compelled to participate in digital fads -- like "challenges" or "pranks" -- or risk being ostracized. Regardless of how extreme these things get, social media always manages to make them popular by appealing to a semi-educated audience -- teens.

Social media is providing young people with an accessible form of communication, but its current mainstream implementation is seriously flawed. Every image or text seems to be filtered; kids are evaluating their self worth based on how close their photos resemble other heavily edited pictures. Trying to discuss actual topics is almost impossible because flagging dissenting views has become the primary form of discourse. Virtue signaling seems to be the only way to not be branded as a menace to society. Oh, and there's the whole problem of adults abusing their authority and fame to manipulate the reactions of kids.

There needs to be regulations which prohibit apps from generating content which incites such stupidity. Sure, freedom of speech is precious but when kids interact with one another under the impression that there is limited oversight, they do dumb things. We've all been kids and we can at least attest to that.


Your complaints are totally valid until you get to this part

> There needs to be regulations which prohibit apps from generating content which incites such stupidity. Sure, freedom of speech is precious but when kids interact with one another under the impression that there is limited oversight, they do dumb things. We've all been kids and we can at least attest to that.

The appropriate entity to police children's behavior is the parent. Some parents do a crappy job, but the state tends to do it even worse.

Some people might feel just as strongly as you do about "violent video games" (defined in some arbitrary way) or "rap music" or "morally objectionable literature" [1]. You wouldn't want them to regulate your use of these, and they don't want you to regulate their use of social media.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic#Examples


>The appropriate entity to police children's behavior is the parent. Some parents do a crappy job, but the state tends to do it even worse.

I'd say the appropriate entity to police children's behavior is the community.

The state is too powerful and over-reaching (and doesn't have skin in the game), the family unit is too restricted (and not enough people to include a representative variety of opinion).


It seems like it would be hard for a parent or the community to monitor kids' social media use in a way that's appropriately hands-off. Maybe mandate that users under 18 have parental consent and give the parent access to something limited, like a graph of contacts with their frequency of interaction.

That would be akin to a parent's ability to see who their kid is hanging out with in real life, without the extent of listening to every word they say.


In the US, the “community” calls the police if a parent let’s the child walk to school. I’m pretty sure that qualifies for “overreaching”.


In the US the community didn't use to do that at all.

It has been taught to do so, assisted by the government (overzealous social services, etc), academic "experts" of all kinds, and hysterical media.

This is a very nice piece of writing from the Austin Chronicle that tells the story of a much freer US and community:

http://michaelventura.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/This-Is...


Parents are part of the community?


Yes, but a part is not the whole -- and even less so a very small part.

So the parents doing it is not the same as the community doing it.


The appropriate entity to police children's behavior is the parent

And the appropriate entity to ensure that parents have the ability to police their children's behaviour is the government. As with all other toys, the government can impose usage restrictions and safety levels. Mandating the availability of parental control or oversight on Internet services accessible by children is perfectly within scope.


> And the appropriate entity to ensure that parents have the ability to police their children's behaviour is the government.

Parents already have the ability to police their children's behavior. Just because people make decisions about their children that you disagree with doesn't mean there needs to be a law.


Mandating the availability of parental control or oversight on Internet services accessible by children is perfectly within scope.

Unless the parent is policing the child's behavior, all Internet services are accessible to them. Legally mandatory age-based restrictions/requirements would only be effective if you could strip the internet of all anonymity.


More government is rarely if ever the appropriate response.


I'm glad we reached the same conclusion. So many people think that government can magically fix everything!


And others think that it can fix nothing and should provide no services, while you still pay taxes.

I agree with you thar regulation is not an answer here, however there are places where the government has to step in, things like building regulations etc. and in my opinion single payer healthcare. It should however absolutely not step into a parental role.


>The appropriate entity to police children's behavior is the parent.

I believe this assumes that the generation of the parent understands the psychological warfare being waged on them and their children. Not everyone can recognize an attacker until it is too late.

Whether the attacker is a family member that is also a sexual predator, or a team of psychoanalysts at Facebook, the damage is done all too often before anyone recognizes it.


The problem with your source is that it doesn't negate what the OP is saying.

We have countless examples of people acting in a mob mentality manner because of social media. Moral panic in many ways is a type of mob mentality. I'm not exactly sure how an example (your wikipedia link) of people acting in senseless ways because of what everyone else is doing is supposed to negate people acting in senseless ways because of what everyone else is doing.

There is direct evidence of social media influencing bad patterns of behavior, even if you wouldn't consider this an obvious point, there is hard evidence for it. Everything from which hunts, to bullying people, to SWAT'ing, to getting people to shoot up a pizza place.

>but the state tends to do it even worse.

I'm not sure what evidence there is for the state not being able to adequately control socially-negative behaviors (well, besides drug use, but there is an extreme biological motivation for drug use). We often look to the state in times of social crisis or socially tense situations and it's done a pretty damn good job. Saying the "state does it worse" seems like bald-assertion that ignores the countless examples of where the state sufficiently guides social practices. You could very well argue that you don't like the state doing this, but the state is definitely able to consistently influence social behaviors. Everything from the FCC regulating content to the government influencing common sexual practices.

OP seems to be basing his opinions and perspectives in actual experience and with evidence, without resorting to typical "the government can't do that (even though it already does)" talking points. So good on him.

If it wasn't obvious I definitely think we should be regulating on-line content. The modern internet has shown that it's a tool, and it can be used to empower the darker sides of human behaviors. There is absolutely nothing wrong with curtailing that.


The state has handled juvenile detention pretty terribly all around, at least in america. There's been several highly egregious cases in which judges were found to be taking kickbacks from prisons for jailing children, as well as inhumane treatment of children in prisons. Similarly, we have the splitting of families and essentially keeping illegal immigrant children in internment camps.


>The state has handled juvenile detention pretty terribly all around, at least in america.

Isn't this just an example of private interests interfering with what the state can do sufficiently in the first place? It's definitely a common problem with the American government, but not necessarily a knock against the state's (as entity) ability to regulate social behaviors in a consistent manner.

Also with the splitting of families, we know that this was intended and explicitly designed as a process by the current administration as a way to socially influence immigrates; it was designed to reduce the amount of people who thought the risk of legal/illegal immigration would be worth it.

These are certainly inhumane practices, no argument there, and I definitely don't agree with them.


Then that is a problem with that instance of state juvenile care, America's. Hard to draw conclusions about such a wide reaching topic as the role of the state in raising children about one example, in America no less, where the incentives seem to be always so fucked up backwards.


Witch hunts, bullying, and the like didn’t start with social media, and regulating social media won’t stop them, either.


No one is saying that. In fact I very specifically used the words empower and curtail.


Censorship is a dangerous thing not because people should have their freedom to say terrible things, but because it leads to unintended consequences. Censorship have always been used against outcasts or lower class members in society. Blacks, gays, women, are all examples of groups that have had censorship used against them. The rules that allow us to shut up Nazis is the same rules that can be used to silence anyone. The rules aren't, and can't be, written as "no Nazis". Because it's too hard to define and enforce. Then you have to keep adding groups to the blacklist, and who isn't to say that a unlike group isn't going to be thrown in there and we regret that action years from now.

And do you really want Silicon Valley making that choice for you?


Silicon Valley already is making that choice. Company produces the terms of service, act on those terms, and they adjudicate them per their exclusive interpretation. If you don't agree, then you're disconnected. There is no negotiation, no redress, you have no say beyond the binary.

As for limited free speech vs (nearly) unlimited free speech, this is an old debate and as yet it's not answered, and may not even have an answer. The U.S. 1st amendment is unique in liberal democracies, most countries do in fact have limits on speech. Germany has no problem defining and enforcing the restriction of propaganda of unconstitutional organizations, it is not vague - it is context specific.

Meanwhile the U.S. Constitution didn't protect Japanese Americans from being labeled, and incarcerated en masse, without due process.


Traditionally during times of war the US Constitution does not apply. This used to mean an official vote by the Senate[1], but since WWII the US decided that we no long would have wars with other countries. We renamed the War department the Defense department in 1947 and have not have a declared war since. Instead the Congress passes resolutions authorizing the use of military force. Presidents sometimes claim this gives them "War" powers and the Supreme court sometimes agree. An unfortunate state of affairs, I would say, especially now with the forever "war" on terror.

It would have been great if when the Department of Homeland Security was created it was called the Department of Defense and the Department of Defense reclaimed its true name, Department of War. I wonder if this idea and practice of renaming something to try and change the nature of a thing started around then, or if it has a much older history.

[1]https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/h_multi_sections_a...


> Traditionally during times of war the US Constitution does not apply.

False.

> This used to mean an official vote by the Senate

No, it didn't. A time of war doesn't require a declaration of war, and while a declaration of war does involve a vote in the Senate, it's not just the Senate, but the Congress (by normal legislative process, e.g., both houses plus the President, or with a subsequent supermajority in the event of a veto, though it's hard to imagine Congress declaring war over a veto.)

> but since WWII the US decided that we no long would have wars with other countries.

No, we didn't. Hence, well, lots of post-WWII war-related legislation, including the War Powers Act.

> Instead the Congress passes resolutions authorizing the use of military force.

Which are exercises if the power to declare war, which requires no special magic words, just like sky other legislative power.


I stand corrected. Thanks.


The really hard thing is to act moral when we are afraid. It's easy to say how moral and righteous we are in times of peace, but when stuff goes wrong then a lot of people will give up freedom for a sense of security (you may have heard a really famous quote about this). With Japan I think everyone admits it wasn't the moral thing to do, but many argue that it was a necessary evil. And you should be wary when you hear those arguments, so we don't repeat history.


I don't see a problem with him having (in my opinion) poorly thought out opinions. This is why we let teenagers post stuff on the internet but don't let teenagers vote. System is working as intended. Nothing to see here.


I not only have no problem with their opinions, I wholeheartedly encourage them. It's by expressing them that the poster gets to read contrasting (and complementary) opinions and consider another point of view - and what better way to form a balanced view of a subject?


14 year olds can't go into a bar in quite a lot of cities and towns in the U.S. sometimes not even with an adult or a parent. There's precedent for regulations that keep kids out of certain situations, rather than expecting parents are tracking their child's every movement.

The degree to which businesses and their platforms are subject to "free speech" vs "fighting words" is thus far entirely up to the officers/board of those companies, society has zero say legally, short of re-regulating some of these businesses as public utilities.

Ths is going to be open and on-going question as anonymity permits people the power to say and do things they wouldn't do in person because if they did, they know it would damage their reputations. And online personas have trivially disposable and resettable reputation.


You had all this before social media. In school I have been made fun of, I have been beaten, people have stolen from me and destroyed my properties. They made pranks, used peer pressure and had huge vanity and popularity contests, while all playing the conformity game.

It is not a technical problem: social medias just magnify the characteristics of the existing society.

I don't own a FB account myself, but for different reasons. Toxic behavior is not the right one IMO, because the solution to this is education on the long run, and on the short run, learning to defend yourself and getting closer to people and environments that suit you better.

The problem with school (if you happen to be in one where you don't fit) is that you don't have the ability to change environment, you are stuck with the same people, and you will be punished for defending yourself.

However, outside of school, and especially on internet, you have all the latitude to do it. So it's only a problem if you focus on the wrong that people do, instead of the good you can do to yourself.


I find it interesting what turns people off from social media - I was massively into fb/twitter etc - but then one day I found them all terribly daunting and no longer a 'fun' place. Everything for me became 'competition', were my posts getting enough likes, did my pictures look 'good' enough, was I going on the expensive holidays and and buying the cars that my friends appeared it. Or it was full of competing political posts - as though sharing it was going to change my or my friends beliefs.

And so I left. And all those bits of 'micro bragging' carry on in the real world - but there you get the fuller picture, and when your friend tells you they have a new car you can see they really got it on HP/loan. The holiday was a credit card, etc. I spend a lot more time with my friends now, in person or on the phone - rather than just thinking I'd connected as I'd liked a post.

That all said I've lately got really into instragram again, precisely as you know that it is all artifice and art.


Many people can't even enjoy the real world without caring how others will judge their car, clothes, and credentials.

Caring about likes on social media seems pretty minor compared to the mountains people were already moving to feel good about themselves, so most social media criticism feels empty to me because they ignore the elephant in the room, like OP's suggestion that they need to be regulated.


Yeah it's an amplifier, the issue is that it's sold as making good better and worse lesser but it turns out it's not quite true.

About your last paragraph, it's a problem when you have to work hard to curate something so you don't have to make bad things. I had the issue myself with internet and computers, I can avoid procrastinating too much but it comes after years of wrong perspective. Ultimately I think most of this era is a waste.


> You had all this before social media. In school I have been made fun of, I have been beaten, people have stolen from me and destroyed my properties. They made pranks, used peer pressure and had huge vanity and popularity contests, while all playing the conformity game..

I think the difference is that social media gives a number by which that your success can be measured.

> social medias just magnify the characteristics of the existing society.

But the problem is that it does in an unnatural way that is prone to various kinds of manipulations. In other words it awards dishonesty. Some examples are posting an heavily edited photo, or not posting something that you want for fear of negative karma etc..

> you don't have the ability to change environment,

I don't know, but it looks like having an ability to change the environment as one wishes will only result in stunned growth..


> I don't know, but it looks like having an ability to change the environment as one wishes will only result in stunned growth.

How so? Changing one's environment is usually hard work, and a real learning experience. It's an important lesson to realize that some environments are too toxic to stay in them.


> Changing one's environment is usually hard work, and a real learning experience.

Mmmmm..I am not sure. It seems to me that adapting oneself to a given environment would be far more worthy a learning experience (might be harder as well). I think one should try to find faults in themselves, and fix them, before fixing or outright moving to a different environment.

Imagine a rock that is getting polished. If the rock is given the choice of the file, ending up moving from rougher to smoother until it is comfortable, it will never get polished, right?


> The problem with school

Have you thought of viable solutions for this?


Giving kids the choice to seamlessly switch classroom should be enough for most of them. Anyway, classrooms as they are right now, are in themselves a rather flawed concept. And we’re already at a deep level here. At an higher level, parents should have vouchers equal to their tax spending that it’s directed toward to schooo to spend at the school of choice. See Steve jobs’ interview on education for more on that.


As a public school teacher, the voucher program would be absolutely awful. Good schools would get better and poor ones would get worse, as the only parents who could necessarily afford to switch schools are already those who are better off. This would just create a huge inequality between the school systems.


Not to put too fine a point on it, but do you guys all realize that you've taken a child's post enumerating his/her primarily emotional concerns about social media, and turned it into a political argument about the primarily financial concern of school choice?

As if school choice would make any dent in bullying. I mean a school is a school. If there are teens in it, there will be bullying, drugs, posturing, fakeness, and (gasp) some of them might even have sex.

I think vouchers, or not having vouchers, may solve the problems you guys have with schools. Mostly because you, like me, are probably adults. But let's not pretend that they address these emotional concerns that are causing more and more teens to shy away from social media. It's just silliness to do that.


> and turned it into a political argument about the primarily financial concern of school choice?

A conversation about social media and its effect on people and our culture is political from the get-go. Having conversations that don't touch on politics is hard and be careful when you think you've succeeded. Folks are absolutely right to point out the consequences of voucher program when they're presented as a solution to problems.

That is, I agree with you here:

> But let's not pretend that they address these emotional concerns that are causing more and more teens to shy away from social media. It's just silliness to do that.

but want to caution people to think twice when they believe a discussion isn't political because it almost always is, technology included.


The current system is putting up barriers to the growth of students by forcing them to stay in mediocre schools. Students from the richest families don't have this problem because their parents have the ability to move to other cities or even other countries in search of the best opportunity.

The inequality is already there, the current system only serves to hide it and maintain it. Why not try letting go and opening up the door for more students to move around? It would give us a better idea of where the problems are so we can address them.


Then maybe we should focus on school reform as a whole and find out what makes mediocre schools mediocre? My guess is that a lot of it has to do with the family and home environment of the students. I teach in the rural South (20% of the county is poverty line or below), and the issue isn't really with the students or the education. It lies in the expectations parents have and cultural values with regards to education. Furthermore, even among the poorer students, you can see those whose parents encourage them at home to do well in school. That's the main issue that affects school quality. With the upper middle class and wealthy you have students whose parents can spend time, encourage and help them (or get tutors), so of course that's going to happen more.

And if you take the kids like that from the mediocre schools, or, really, take what money their taxes provide for the school system, you're just leaving the disadvantaged kids to be more disadvantaged.

Let kids move, sure, but the funding shouldn't move with them.


My guess is that a lot of it has to do with the family and home environment of the students.

It does, but it's not only that. For a student to excel they need a lot of different things and if they're deprived of any of them they will not do well. In your case, you may see a lot of students with a family/home environment that makes it difficult for them to focus. In other cases a student may have a more supportive home environment but their classmates don't and the slower pace the class may run at as a result leaves the student bored and disinterested.

So a student needs a supportive family, access to proper nutrition, but also a curriculum of really challenging courses that pushes him/her to learn a lot. The latter need is why wealthy parents pull their kids out of public schools.

Essentially, the problem with public schooling is the same one we saw with the mortgage crisis and one the insurance industry deals with all of the time: adverse selection [1]. Students that struggle due to lack of nutrition or a difficult family environment need a far greater share of the funding allocated to the school. Students with strong and supportive backgrounds get far less out of a school that focuses on struggling students. This encourages them to leave, just as an insurance policy that charges the same premium to both smokers and non-smokers tends to drive out the non-smokers.

What we end up with are schools with disproportionate numbers of struggling students. So what's the answer? I don't think there is a single answer. A ton of commentators out there look to education as a silver bullet for class mobility. Yes, education correlates very strongly with career outcome. But education itself is an outcome of a whole host of factors and I strongly believe those need to be fixed, first.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_selection


The best schools are at full capacity with the middle class and up families that you’ve mentioned. No one is going to move their student to a mediocre school. Now what? Students are still in mediocre schools and can’t go anywhere else. Vouchers solved nothing.

The current system is not hiding or maintaining the problem. The problem is pretty blatant and well known.


Why don't people start more private schools if their capacity is maxed? By assumption, there is more demand than supply, and the vouchers would increase the demand further.


Why would a private school be better? We are trying this in the UK (Academy Schools) and across the UK they are failing: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jul/22/academy-sc...


From what I can tell, there's no voucher system or equivalent that allows the existence of competition between those schools, which is exactly why the private schools would (according to the proposal) be better.


Why are we trying to pretend that meaningful competition is possible in this sphere, or that it would produce a better result for the student?


Pretending is fun. Why is meaningful competition not possible in this sphere?


The same reason that meaningful competition is usually difficult (when it is difficult)--information asymmetry.

Experts don't really know what makes one school better than another. Is it performance on standardized test scores? Improvements on standardized test scores? College acceptance rate?

Even when you do decided on a metric, one of the biggest impacts on educational outcome is parental involvement. Is school A really more effective than school B, or just more effective at attracting involved parents?

If experts have a hard time judging the effectiveness of a school, most parents don't have a chance.

For an example of what this looks like, take a look at for-profit colleges. Through advertising and information asymmetry they attract students who will rack up tens of thousands in student loans for mostly worthless degrees. The most successful for-profit colleges aren't the ones that are the best at educating students, they're the ones that are the best at marketing and sales.


Late to reply. Funding is based on the number of children in the school - so if the school can attract more people it will get more money. Obviously this isn't the same as 'your tax' funding your children - but hey we at least play at being socialist. In major cities it is not uncommon to have a choice of schools open to you (I previously lived within 500m of 4 primiary schools) and so the competition to get both the right number of pupils to fund the school, all the while getting the 'best' pupils exists. It just isn't providing the results you are hoping - I'd say as it 'seems' that the funding ends up being used to pay the heads and other senior staff very well: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/0/academies-pros-cons/


Why should a voucher go to a private school? That's public money you're now taking out of the public use. And it still doesn't solve the issue of the fact that the kids left behind will be worse off due to even less money in their school system.


Wouldn't costs go down at schools with less attendance? I'd have to imagine the majority of school spend is operational costs. You need fewer books, lunches, teachers, etc with fewer students.


You're assuming private schools wouldn't be around to solely make as much profit as possible. Plus, there's always the issue of higher pricing being associated with better results. And then the schools could even follow the path of universities and start charging more and more.


It’s non-linear for most of those things though - a class of 20 kids or a class of 30 kids still need a teacher (although there’s evidence that the former’s going to have better outcomes), books aren’t bought new every year so are amortised over a whole load of students, lunches are cheaper when you can buy ingredients in bulk etc.

Private schools are usually more expensive because there’s a lower ratio of students to teachers. If all the rich kids left, you’d have schools being merged together to save money; you wouldn’t have the few(er) poor kids left behind with one teacher covering multiple classes.


> The inequality is already there, the current system only serves to hide it and maintain it. Why not try letting go and opening up the door for more students to move around? It would give us a better idea of where the problems are so we can address them.

Genuine question: why do you think the issue of educational inequality is hidden? The problem areas are fully known and there are dedicated charities working to address it all around the world. Is the argument we need to make the situation so worse to bring it into the public conscious more?


Good schools would get better. New schools would get started. The bad schools will die. Maybe yours. It would be a period of great change, but we’d be better off in the end. Any parent can afford to switch schools with a $44k voucher (California’s per child education cost). If education is like any other market without a gov. retaining its monopoly.. we’ll see a net increase in product value. Parents would start shopping for a school like they shop for any other expensive item - like cars or homes: with great care - in a world of choice.


I live in the LAUSD (Los Angeles) school district, which has a pretty strong charter system and has had for a long time.

In the case of LA, your assertions are just not true. They seem to be based on generalities about monopoly markets, and to be un-informed by how charters really play out.

The charter school era has been a period of great change - but there are some really bad charters, and some of them fail suddenly during the school year. Some of the for-profit charters have been notably corrupt, and oversight of small charters is hard. As a recent example, a charter near my home closed just a few days after the beginning of the school year, due to insufficient enrollment (http://www.pucschools.org/iprep/). Now those families are searching for another school. Most of them will end up at their neighborhood school after all.

To return to your "market" concept: one of the fundamentals of properly functioning markets is information. It is very hard for parents - even well-informed parents - to gather information about the real quality of instruction at a school. (The things that parents respond to don't really correlate with educational quality.) Another fundamental is liquidity - this is just not a liquid market. People like to stick with one school if possible - for good reasons.

Another problem with the "market" concept is that provision of elementary education is not really a market transaction. The teachers are not really in it mostly for the pay. The parents don't treat it as a market either. What was the last time you volunteered time at your local grocery store or lumber yard?

You and I agree that there are problems with "monopoly" elementary education - but throwing charters at it as a simple market solution has not worked out well. It seems to be a more complex problem.


Switching schools isn't hard/impossible because parents can't pay a fee. It's because you have to be within a physical distance of the school, and that space is limited. If you make schools a market with vouchers then you are going to end up with the rich getting everything and the poor being left with scraps. This already happens to some extent with parents moving to good schools districts, but it's at least somewhat mitigated by every school continuing to receive funding


It’s hard to imagine it getting much worse than today. Head on up to Hayward and check out the schools there (if you dare), then cross I580 and look at the Castro Valley schools. If you live in a poor neighborhood and also happen to care about your kid’s education, you are shit out of luck. Schools are already hopelessly class segregated, and this is not unique to the Bay Area. Tying school funding to how rich the school’s neighborhood is ranks up there among the dumbest ideas we’ve come up with as a society.


You realize California thought that different levels of funding was the problem and now almost all schools are funded by the state based on the number of students. More recently the state doubled down on this "we need more money for poor students" philosophy and now disadvantaged students get more funding. Castro Valley schools probably get less funding per student than Hayward. What people don't want to realize is that the most important component of if a school is "good" or not is the student population itself. You can't change this with funding or changes in teaching styles, or testing, etc. You can with forced busing, but that only works for a little while as parents who want a great school for their kids move to locations where busing is not in effect.


Not sure what you mean by a $44k voucher and California’s per child education cost. California spends around $11.5k per pupil for primary/secondary school[1] per year. $44k per year would cover the cost of even the most expensive private schools while $11.5k would only cover private school if it is heavily subsidized by a religion. I'd quit my job in a heartbeat and start a small school or tutor 5-10 kids directly, if you pay me $44k each.

[1] http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-educa...


Except places using vouchers don't produce better outcomes.

Better to eliminate the reason for good and bad schools - using property taxes. Also source for 40k? That's about 4x as much as it's reported to be.


I'm doubtful about your assertion that new schools will pop up. I actually doubt that they will, especially in poorer areas. So the kids whose parents are able will leave, taking their money. Thus solidifying the problem of funding to the schools.

And, as mentioned, transportation is a big issue for many as well. School busses are nice for those parents who have to work at 7, or earlier, and can't take their kids to school. Same going home. Unless, of course, you're going to start bussing kids to all the new schools that pop up, assuming any do.

Also, how do you deal with regulations and standards? If my tax money is going to a private school, it better follow a standard and not be teaching creationism, etc.

And I, too, would like to see your source on cost of education... You also assume that the private schools won't all be owned by the same company or that they won't agree to set prices the max available from the vouchers... Or higher.


  I'm doubtful about your assertion that new
  schools will pop up.
If you can get $44k per student per year, I'm sure new schools will pop up, just like for-profit colleges. Whether that's a good thing is of course another question.


It's not $44K per year. In California, it may be around $13K per year depending somewhat on location (~ $65/day/student). See the first spreadsheet linked at: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/fd/ec/currentexpense.asp

(For a couple of years my kid went to a school that encouraged donation of ~$50/day/kid for voluntary absences, to make up for the lost state fees for that day of instruction.)


I'll correct myself. Apparently it's more like $13k, not $44k. At least as of now. Although it depends. Still, the point is to make schools compete and to make new schools pop up - so that the overall quality will go up.


Education is a fundamental human right, not a product.


Code my website. Having website is fundamental right, not a product.


Are you being absurd, or are you genuinely unaware that education is considered a human right?


It's also based on the (mis?)conception that the taxes you pay are for your own children's education, rather than being for everyone's.


Define "everyone"- your township, your state?

NJ has a program that provides education aid to underperforming students (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_district). Chris Christie looked into defunding it while he was in office(https://www.nj.com/education/2016/09/christie_wants_court_to...), which makes me strongly suspect that this sort of thing isn't available in a lot of other states...


Well, depends on how your taxes are raised. I live in the UK and it's incredibly centralised so 'everyone' is the nation.


I always find it interesting the majority of the tax receipt in the US is income tax - in the UK it is 25% (44% if you include National Insurance [welfare]). It is the largest lump of tax collected. Is that because what we see as VAT is collected at a state level?


It's more complex than that - it almost seems more like the US is made of 50 countries with open borders. I've lived in 3 different states and each is different in terms of tax.

The US Federal Gov primary source of revenue is the federal income tax, while State Gov budgets are based on income taxes, property taxes, and sales(VAT) taxes. Some states have no income tax and some have no sales taxes, some have very high/low property taxes.

Additionally, some counties (several cities) and even cities have income taxes or additional sales/property taxes. It's very difficult to calculate what you effectively pay in taxes and where those taxes go.


State sales taxes can't really be compared to a VAT. A VAT gets collected at each step along the way from raw materials to final product; sales tax is only collected at final sale.


Collecting a VAT is probably more expensive to society than collecting a sales tax, as every business has to keep track of it instead of just the ones that do the final sale. The reason you need VAT is in practice, if sales taxes are higher than around 10%, the number of businesses/people who start to find ways to not pay it starts getting significant. With a VAT each business in effect enforces the tax on the business it buys from or has to pay the tax themselves. Raising a sales tax higher than 10% can net you less tax revenue(highest sales tax in the US is 10.25%, highest VAT 50% (Bhutan) with 25% common in Europe).

I imagine this effect is getting less pronounced as cash is used less and less in transactions.


Conceptually, yes. Most mid and large manufacturers are using gov-sponsored programs that allow deferral of duties and VAT/other taxes until final sale. Source; I work in global trade.


When you say that, you imply that it's the kids, not the money that follows them, that makes a school good.


Then I didn't phrase it accurately enough. It's definitely more the fact that money will be leaving the school system with those kids whose parents are fortunate enough to be able to move them. And when that happens, you'll just further disadvantage the disadvantaged.


I came from a small country in Europe and schools followed a more strict policy. We were not allowed to change classrooms from 1-12 grade, the teachers switched classrooms. Because of that process, we created a bond with the classmates and kind of became like a family and protected one another. There was bullying, but it was minimal because the non-supervision time window was small during our 20 min lunch break. I promise, if the western schools follow the same policy all that pushing and shoving of kids during class transition will not happen. Just my 2 cents.


Or you punish the few for the actions of the majority. I was in a terrible class in school, and for 3 years we had all our lessons together. The only way the teachers knew how to attempt to control it was through collective responsibility, punishing the entire class - something that only affects the people who behave well enough to even indulge in punishment [0].

Relying on peer bonding falls down when you're unlucky to be placed with those who're unengaged in the system (mostly not their own fault, society has let them down, doesn't make the impact any less shitty for all involved though).

Until you make education more engaging (usually through quality teachers), and invest in supporting those who've been let down to the extent they've given up on progressing in life by age 12, without being destructive to others, it's going to be a clusterfuck all round.

[0] those who don't care enough to not set fire to the classroom are unlikely to care about turning up for detention or getting a bad referral...


the non-supervision time window was small during our 20 min lunch break

So you didn't have breaks between classes? You were stuck in the classroom all day?


There was a 5-10 min window for teachers to walk from class to class. So yeah we were there the entire time, 8AM-3PM. Same thing exists in the lower grades in US, K-5. We don’t see those kids complaining either.


Frankly, that sounds awful to me, even as an adult; it sounds like a recipe for sedentarism and vitamin D deficiency. In my country we have 15m recesses between each class, starting from 5th grade, where we got some sunlight and exercise - at least climbing the stairs back to the classroom, but many kids played some sport or game with physical activity.


Well, it's a catch 22.

If I were to go back to school right now, I would live it vastly differently because of what I know about others, myself, and the values of things.

My parent moved around a lot, and I went to 11 different education facilities. The quality of the experience is immensely different depending of the school and yes, money helps. I did not live the same experience in poor areas and rich ones.

But, assuming you get only one school, and it sucks, you can only learn those by either:

- growing up

- being taught about it

The first option is moot since you are still a kid in school.

The second one assumes your parents are able to do that, but if they were, you wouldn't have had the problem in the first place.

Actually, even paying for a top school is only half of a good solution. Toxic environment can take different shapes, and are everywhere in life. Also, you may be a profile that doesn't fit easily in most places. Being born awkward is a thing :) Better learn to deal with it than working around the problem.

So no, I have no solution, even if I acknowledge changing schools help.

However, I do know what my current self would tell my previous self:

- conformity is a balance. Full conformity will kill your personality. But total rejection will make your life much harder. It's unfair, especially since a lot of what people conform to can be things you think very badly about. However, it's important to pick your battle: forcing yourself to do a few conventional stuff makes the ride much smoother for a reasonable price. Again, it's unfair to have to do that. But think of it as gravity: you can try to oppose it as much as you want, but it's not going anywhere. Better learn to deal with it. Language and appearance are low hanging fruits: they don't affect you as deeply as activities.

- it's important to learn to defend yourself. This includes several steps. Accepting that people will do things you can't imagine doing yourself and can't believe they do, that destroy and hurt. That doesn't make them bad persons, but it is here, and you have to accept it exists. Then realize you don't have any reason to put up with it. Then learn to fight it of in a progressive manner: bad behavior is not a 1/0 switch, it's a curve and you need to answer early, and proportionally to what's happening. It's exhausting at first, but it prevents the "silent for long, then explode or collapse", and you will be surprised about the positive consequences of doing this right. Setting and respecting boundaries (even artificial ones) are an important social mechanism. This doesn't help with people in charge behaving badly however. Kids life suck for that: you are basically at their mercy unless you are ready to pay an ungodly price.

- pay the price. All those things have a price. Again, it's unfair. But people will get mad at you. You will make enemies. You will be punished. Hurt. And other unexpected costs. Assessing the cost and making sure it's worth it is a matter of experience. But if you don't chose the price to pay, you just end up paying one anyway, and one that is assigned to you.

- the people in charge are not here to help you. People have their own agenda and ego. Some are great, but most will protect themself and the institution. Again it does not make them bad persons, but play the game understanding that when you'll have a problem, they probably won't be the solution despite what everyone says, and that applying a solution may make them act against you. Stash that in the "price to pay" column, and make a choice.

- stop being a jerk. When you are in an environment where you don't fit, you often react in a jerky way. Some become aggressive, some arrogant, some needy, some victimize them-self. It's a natural reaction. But it makes things worse. You don't have to be nice unless you feel you'd like to. Don't force yourself (it's a horrible idea). But don't be an ass unless you need to: this you should force yourself to avoid. It's incredible the number of situations that completely change depending of the way you react to it. A victim posture attract bullies. Arrogance breed rejection. Etc. A good starting rule is: be positive first, then next time, behave like they behaved the last time with you.

- it's ok if people get angry. Your parent may be angry, but they are not always right and don't live what you do. If you don't think you are screwing up (and deep inside you know when you do), just be ok with the fact they are angry. They have their own perspective. Same for teachers. Same for friends. Also accept you will fail and makes plenty of mistakes. It's ok to get angry at people as well. It should not, however, be a permanent state. That would indicate something deeply wrong. But, allow yourself to antagonize people and vice-versa: this gives you space to act. Adult are not always right, they don't have the same objectives, constraints and they don't have the whole picture. And other kids, well, they are like you. They are just doing their best to live this thing.

- you can't win all the fights. There may be hundreds of things you want to change. And they may all be worth it. But you are limited in time and space. Physics is a b*. So pick a few, invest yourself to them, but let the others go. You can't defend the weak, be popular, make sure people recycle, call out the mistake of teachers, get the girl, motivate your friends to quit drugs, win the championship, promote animal rights and have straight A+. Unfair ? Well yes. Guess what, you'll also end up dying.

- don't blindly listen to advises (including this comment). I've been given terrible advises by people that I trusted and that cared about me. "Just be yourself". "Don't listen to them". "It doesn't matter what they think". "Fighting is bad". "Tell your teacher about it". Now I don't know what will be your conclusion, and I don't pretend I know the one-and-only-truth. But it's important to try things, reject what failed, and stick to what works. Test an advice, see the result. Be honest: what happened ? Does that make your life better now ? And later ? Is the cost worth it ?

Deep insides me I knew those things but didn't apply them because it seemed dark.

The funny thing is, applying them made life easier, and happier for me, and people around me. It's a weird thing. But basically, reality is not perfect, and when you start embracing the imperfect side of it instead of mourning how it could be, it becomes very fun !


Anger is a choice (or at least learned behavior), and never an appropriate one.

People say that you should be yourself and don't listen to others despite the fact that we know that it's at best disingenuous, because we have a need for others to validate our identities. Similarly, we talk about "true love" and "justice" because we need to be loved and we need to believe that justice exists.


Yes but you can't let go of anger if you don't accept it. Rejecting anger doesn't work. Being a victim of other people's anger neither.


Agreed. Anger is a physical response, or rather a spectrum of physical responses and behavioral expressions. These are clearly quite natural, and presumably evolutionarily useful. However, anger basically comes at the cost of one's reasoning abilities, which is not usually a good tradeoff. Once one is angry, this does have to run its course. My experiences have been teaching me that this should be avoided in most cases.


> being taught about it

How do you teach something like this? In a classroom, or is it only good incase it comes from experienced parents?


Participation sports can go a long way for some of this. Developing strength and fitness naturally builds self-confidence and a positive self-image. Self-confidence results in a willingness to defend oneself and helps deter bullying.


Or forced participation in sports could do just the opposite for kids who were uncoordinated, have mild physical disabilities, etc...

I hated PE classes until the one or two I had to take in high school. Then I could elect to take weightlifting. I wasn’t coordinated at all but I could “pick things up and put them down”.

But no amount of “self-confidence” and having a “positive self-image” would stop a short fat uncoordinated computer geek [1] from getting bullied. No I wasn’t bullied in high school but I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with being “self confident” and I wouldn’t have been able to “defend myself” against the football players if half of them weren’t my friends.

[1] I got better as an adult - got more into physical fitness and became a part time fitness instructor.


You can't teach this in the classroom: it's not school's mission, plus it sometimes goes against its agenda.

Teaching this can only be done by somebody close to you. Family or friends.

However, two conditions make it rare that it happens: said relatives must know about it, and they must be willing to teach it.

Very few people actually know about this: either they do it without understanding that they do it, or they don't do it. It's a rare combination to have somebody acting in this way, and understanding deeply the ins and outs of it.

As for the will: teaching it means it does not go against the person agenda. It means the person must have the ability to teach. And the desire to invest the time and energy to do so, as it's a long process that involves patience, failure, and a lot of leading by example.

Bottom line: it's hard to be a good parent. Damn it, who knew?

However, if I decided to teach it to somebody (I decided not to have children), I wish I would be able to do do the following thing:

- Be extremely honest. Half of the problems in this game is about all the lies we tell each others. That adults are always right. That schools is always here to help you. You have to be nice. They are wrong and you are right, or vice versa. Justice exists outside of the human mind. Being a child is easy. I'd talk about the pain I had, I listen to their pain.

- Talk about cost. A lot. Social cost. Punishment. Long term consequences in life. Being hurt. And hurting others. This must be demystified. It's not something special. It's life. It's ordinary. It's not the end of the world and it's the same for everybody. You can find happiness between those. But you need to make conscious choices about the costs, and not let them happen to you.

- Be patient. Accept failure. Talk about it. My father used to double anything the school would punished me with. So basically, if a bully kicked my ass and I defended myself, I would pay 3 times for basically minding my own business. This is the opposite of what you want.

- Teach about basic grooming, fashion, language and social conventions. Show them as tools instead of constraints. You can change clothes and wording to match occasions: formal when needed, fashionable when required, personal when with loved ones. Once you master them, you can actually use them less and less and be yourself more and more without friction. Life is funny that way. But as long as you reject them as artifact of our sick societal system, they will be a burden to you.

- Have the "boundaries" talk. How to respect others. How to make others respect yours. By body language. Verbally. Physically if needed. It's weird to have something that artificial to deal with, and so it's even more important to highlight it.

- Lead by example. Speaking only helps so much. You must show. And involve.


So loading it up on a website and letting kids do their things is not enough? What would be required to learn this by themselves, if a blogpost is not enough? Memorization by repetition, self-improvement cycles, what do you think would be enough that they can learn it by themselves?


You don't learn guitar with one blog post.

This is more abstract than guitar. There is not one technic you can follow.

Those skills use less the intellectual part of the brain and more the emotional one. It makes them hard to mass teach because words suck for explaining them.

I don't have a simple solution to offer, as I learned it by trial and errors, and also luck.

Therapy helped me but it's not scalable. Meditation too but it's very slow, and good luck to make teenagers practice it seriously. I would still recommand them, with the warning that quality vary hugely between practicians.

Lots of good books have helped as well. They are useless without practice though.

Because in the end, the only way to learn is to be in the situation, react differently and evaluate, then adapt.

Anyway, to all those with these challenges, good luck. It's possible to live an happy life as a square in a circle world. But it does requires to adapt and you may be the only one in charge to find a way.

Despite my seemingly pessimistic view on the topic, a positive way of seing this is to say : hey, nobody did it, let's make a website with plenty of content, practical examples in videos and exercices for those who need it.

You'd need a dozen of contributors with different social background and gender to make something that's worth it.

Things need to be very visual, so acting will be important. You need kids to be part of it as you'd get out of date easily. You'd need to remove judgement out of it. Not the right place to get your "drug are bad" messages through is.

Repetition is important, but sustainable progression is another. Practicing those skills will get you in trouble at first.

But more importantly, the emphasis must be based on real experiences from the teaching and in the exercices.

Hard to get righ. Interesting challenge.

A nice idea to explore.


Bullying, vanity, peer pressure, conformity, etc. are not specific to schools. Any viable solution for this then has to be equally viable for the rest of the world. What's noteworthy here is the fact that almost no one seems interested in finding a solution to this (aside from fruitlessly trying to change others or 'the system').


No but it's much more present in the young social groups, and the closed ecosystem of a school coupled with the limited autonomy the system gives you at this stage of life makes it especially challenging.


Most/all of these issues are immediately solvable if your family can afford private education.


yes and no. usually this fixes the quality of the education (although there do exist some that are weak academically), but private schools can still be very toxic places. not even all the rich white kids fit in.


OP referred to immobility as a main concern. Private education solves that. So do many public education systems (ex. the Netherlands) that give parents more freedom in choosing institutions suitable for their kids.


Socrates already thought of some... and yet here we are, with people being born as ignorant and uneducated as ever.


Not to mention you can't trust "education" to be true unless you can verify yourself that it is true. So much education is just propaganda.


Schooling is a subset of education.


> There needs to be stricter regulations which prohibit apps

I was agreeing with you until there. We don't need censorship. Anything you see online is a reflection of the attitudes and education of the people using it.


It's a difficult line to draw though. For instance you have PG ratings, the 13 yo limitation on account creation, 18 yo limitation on binding contracts etc.

Flagging what children can see/can do is a necessary part of education, the question is where to draw the line and what is considered damaging enough that it needs to be marked as off limits


> Flagging what children can see/can do is a necessary part of education

Yes, but that's a choice ought to be made by the parents. Not the government or some other party. It's the parents who choose how to raise their kids.


I think in general it's a mix between parents choice and society.

If something because a problem for the whole society, parents won't have their say in it. For instance violent content would arguably fall in this bucket.

For this specific discussion, the question would be if children exposed to some of the most predatory apps have provably destructive behaviour (for instance if it affects their health such that they are not able to participate in regular social activities, or get depressed and because bring a high cost for the whole society etc.)

I'd see censoring at the society level or not depend on the answer to that question.


I think in general it's a mix between parents choice and society.

I noticed you didn't want to use the word government there and instead used "society". More often than not it's unelected bureaucrats doing the regulating, so it's not "society".


Those bureaucrats are there to represent society, reduce conflict, and serve the greater good. Regulating is their role and somewhere up the chain of command is an elected official that oversees their power to do so. Sometimes the unelected bureaucrats are misguided, ignorant, corrupt, or otherwise misinterpret their role and/or power, but we have elections and city council meetings where issues are to be addressed; new policies can be enacted and complaints can be filed. It is not perfect but overall it tends to work.


Puting it as “government” makes it very political.

I think that more often than not the people pushing these decisions follow an idea of what most people would agree with.

For instance even if a regulator deeply believes eating babies is OK, they wouldn’t push a law in that direction, understanding nobody would back them up.

They would still be biased and try to limit punishment on baby eating, but there would be enough other people countering them.

In a way, if nobody resists or succesfuly rejects a proposal, I’d argue that proposal goes along what society accepts as valid, even if if asked in a poll a lot of people would disagree with it.


I agree we need restrictions at the society level and parents can override as they do today.

Calling it censorship makes it sound bad. But if you think about it, we have these restrictions of behaviours outside the digital world already, sometimes with options for parents to override it.

Where I live, alcohol can be consumed by children if given by their parents, but child pornography is illegal regardless of consent.

Predatory digital apps have a certain level of danger, and we need to figure out how much society should protect us from it.


So do you think it should be legal to sell tobacco and alcohol to minors? Should there be an age of sexual consent? Or is this a legitimate use of government? Just wondering how far you are willing to take that opinion.


That's a question of public opinion.

I'd guess that most parents agree that they don't want their kids drinking alcohol and don't want others selling it to the kids. That's why this behavior is made illegal.

However, I do not think that there would be such consensus on other questions, like when you should tell how babies are born, what politician is not doing a good job, or what books and TV shows should be banned for kids at home, etc. There is no agreement on these matters so there should be no laws governing them.


Perhaps your vision of having a consensus on a question is not far away from others vision of having proof of harm on a specific topic.

At least, I assume that the people you want to give the freedom to decide matters by themselves, are also people who would accept changing their mind (at a greater scale changing the consensus) when faced with credible facts going against their beliefs.

To take your “when you should tell how babies are born” example, I think we agree at some point kids need to know. There is no consensus on when it should happen exactly, but we know a portion of the kids will have life or death issues if it’s not done at puberty.

As I see it, idealy we’ll want to put laws to enforce sex education at puberty, and let parents do what they want before that.


The movie rating system in use today ( in the US ) is hardly something to emulate, especially when discussing Federal regulation.


Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park, The Book of Mormon) briefly discussing how bad the system is: https://youtu.be/nDzblNKjsO0 [3m24s]


Luckily, you would have a hard time to mark something as off limits on the net.

You can censor the prevalence of something on a specific platform, but users will always be able to link to any content, if they choose to do so.

You would also fail to make the internet safe for children. I know, children do stink, but they are probably better at locating information they are looking for than their parents. Only direct parenting can help here because there is no feasible technical solution.

So we could draw lines all day and it wouldn't really matter anyway.


It's a reflection of the worst attitudes rather than the best.

The claim that socially media don't select and filter is nonsense. Of course they do. They're a huge part of a social feedback loop that selects and reinforces the most average "popular" behaviours, while filtering out more challenging high-effort social edge cases.

IMO the edge cases are where all the interesting things happen, so keeping them out of the public eye is a form of censorship itself.


Do you have any ideas on how else we could fix these problems? Maybe the problem lies in a lack of education on how to navigate these platforms responsibly?


I'd like to see what happens if psychologists design a social media platform around encouraging positive healthy interactions.

I can think of many improvements:

* Boosting instead of retweeting can avoid viral outrage, explanation - https://www.codesections.com/blog/mastodon-elevator-pitch/

* Reduce the incentives & rewards for signalling and curating an online identity, e.g. avoid Like buttons and Share'd content. Snapchat shows it's possible for Like-less social media without curated identity to still be popular, despite lacking Like-button dopamine hits, and the vacuum left by viral content and image grooming might¹ be replaced with socializing with your friends and ability to be yourself (¹ see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11828280)

* Should "goes on your permanent record" always be the platform's default behavior for social interactions?

But I'm just a mere coder watching social media make my social circles ill, I wonder what systems real psychologists could come up with and test.


Each phone ping, like, comment, reply, follow is a dopamine shot.

You know what else gives people dopamine shot? The next piece of chocolate cake, the cigarette that's always overdue, having the drink after long day of work, finally being able to hit the bong and so on.

"Social media" is as much of an addiction on a biological level as drugs. We know that prohibition doesn't work.

We should start with helping people find ways to feed their (dopamine) reward system with more meaningful stuff. Help accomplish them small and bigger things, promote real human interaction.


Without commenting further on this specific issue (and not pointing fingers, either. I understand the drive to make things better comes from a good place) But. Take heed from someone who lived in communist China in the 70s/80s- all mechanisms of social control outlive their creators. And censorship is a very, very powerful tool. So be very, very careful in invoking that technique as a good idea.

Or, put another way, if there's a wasp buzzing in the room, plugging one's ears to its sound doesn't make it go away. You just no longer know when you're about to get stung.

As for how to navigate these platforms responsibly- people have to care about consequences, and social media of the modern form is still too new for society to have come to grips with it. I think it will happen with time, as a mix of cultural and legal adaptations. As to what form that will ultimately take, well... Good question, that.


There's nothing to fix imo, you learn how to deal with stuff when dealing with stuff, I see no good in preventing it.


Anything that's addressed to underage people needs regulation. We used to say that on the Internet the market regulates itself but obviously we're past that point long ago. Now it's all for profit.


"There needs to be regulation" is pretty meaningless though.

If anything, you should parcel out some examples of what that would look like instead of +1'ing some abstraction notion of it.


Eh, get used to this, buddy. That's just peer pressure. Every generation blames the latest form of media but really its just humanity and we're _the worst_. Regulations just leads to further abuse but with more authority.

Just do your best to identify and avoid toxic situations.


> Trying to discuss actual topics is almost impossible because flagging dissenting views has become the primary form of discourse.

I see this happening a lot on HN as well. I think the issue isn't so much age or education but rather people are lazy and/or don't often like confrontation.


Agree. Although HN is better than most forums (hats off to the mods), you see many cases where a comment does add to the discussion but is clearly unpopular and gets neg rep'd because others did not agree with that point of view. That is really childish. As someone else pointed out, it's the edge cases that are interesting, and even if (especially if) I don't agree I want to see the opposing comments.


Not really, I post a lot of opinions that goes against what I thought were sacred cows on HN and usually I net positive votes from it.


Hah! Try going against the real sacred cows and watch what happens. :) I guarantee you I could easily shed 100 karma here in an hour, with civil language and politely advocating one of those forbidden opinions.


Let's see, I've said positive things about Microsoft, advocated "wall gardens", negative things about open source being the holy grail. defining a "successful" company as one that's profitable, negative things about Google and Android, there is life for developers outside of FAANG and west coast startups.

Which sacred cows did I miss?


You’ll find plenty in this trash fire: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17864026

Look for the light gray posts.


Except for one or two, that were definitely against HN guidelines, you’re right. Most of the comments were downvoted because of opinions. It was used as a “I disagree” not as a “this is disrespectful, not adding to the conversation, not factually correct (4 == 3). I try to only downvote in those situations.

I will flag any submission that I see is over political even one that I agree with. Politics and religion topics rarely lead to intellectually stimulating discussion.


I think HN does a better job of moderating than most. The times I do see dissenting views getting the boot is when the person can't manage to air those views without being a shithead. If you're a solitary voice for a perspective it can be hard to find the balance of force and civility necessary to get your point across, but it is important.


> There needs to be regulations which prohibit apps from generating content which incites such stupidity.

Ban things I don't like.


There needs to be regulations which prohibit apps from generating content which incites such stupidity.

Don't be like that. Think about that statement.


Hmm, maybe it's just me but I don't see social media that way. I mean sure there is a large portion dedicated to that, but I tend to think there is an even larger portion dedicated to creation, sharing incredible things happening in the world, and otherwise content that I would have to go out of my way to realize were happening. The ability to see in real-time when rocket launches happen, when new discoveries are made, to learn about anything you could possibly ever want in a curated feed. I have learned so many random skills from watching YouTube or joined monthly workout or yoga challenges. There is a lot to not like about social media, but that seems more like a curation issue and learning when to disconnect from tech and go outside, or try something new.


If we break down a subset of human needs/characteristics in the following manner: + seeking approval and belonging to the tribe + comparison drive for fear of missing out + chemical rush associated with bullying behavior

These are a subset of behaviors and clearly abstracted (not the scientific or core components of behavior) but are used for example purposes.

In these cases, social media provides a platform for conducting these behaviors and elevates the individuals that push the behaviors to the noticeable extreme.

In fact, social media with all the likes, shares, followers, friends, is based on the principle that certain behaviors are celebrated and others ignored.

Adding to the fact that it's difficult for humans to develop self-awareness, maturity, empathy, as most adults are fairly lacking in these areas; therefore, social media will be filled with behaviors that are hateful, ignorant, bullying and more.

One potential solution to combat such behavior is having a suggestion box in the feeds that can tell when bullying behavior is happening and suggest to both the bully and the bullied, how to handle or develop empathy/self awareness. The feature could be required reading, it could create a forced break in usage. This is more about educating than censoring, as it's difficult to censor, easier to educate. Especially with potential false positives.

Thoughts?


What we need is a way to downvote stuff that we don't want to see. That doesn't mean that the person who posted should be able to see the amount of downvotes. It means that the algorithm shouldn't show me similar stuff in the future.


People under a certain age (16, 14, don't know the best) shouldn't be legally allowed to use ad-backed social media, or be allowed in stores without parents being present.

Social media being defined as anything with a comment field. Stores being defined as any site that accepts payment or a building that has a cash register.

If you are in a legal class (minor) that says you are not legally allowed to work or be self-sufficient, why are you allowed in a place/website that primarily exists to sell you things or engage with a place/website whose primary business purpose is to expose you to ads in order to sell you things indirectly?


> kids are evaluating their self worth based on how close their photos resemble other heavily edited pictures.

It’s not just “kids”, I am 35 and I see my peers posting images of themselves in their Calvin Kline underwear. These of course are not models being paid, but are obviously replicating professional CK model shoots of the Kardashians. Maybe instead of like buttons, there should be a take this crap down, examine your actions and seek professional help button.


I'm only vaguely familiar with the Kardashian name, assumed your peers would be other males and thought CK was a male brand. Quoted your comment to a friend referencing social media peer pressure, and they said:

"Is this men or women posing? [..] the language about models and comparison to the Kardashians... and also the contempt... make me think they're talking about women."

When I questioned it:

"I mean, you have to admit, speaking with that kind of contempt about /men/ is a tad less common"

And then shows me that CK does clothes for women, there are no (living) male Kardashians of note, and the Kardashian women have done a CK photoshoot.

I don't know what to make of this, except you might want to know you're apparently telegraphing "contempt for women" loudly enough for it to come through on a second hand reading.


Too bad the influence is big! The entire generation will be easily to manipulate. The reason FB/Twitter lost over 20% in stocks in one day, is because the spying and manipulating fake news the government used as so-called 'anti-propaganda'. This is going way deeper.


> As a young person, you feel compelled to participate in digital fads -- like "challenges" or "pranks" -- or risk being ostracized

Could you elaborate on this?


I have always been wary of assigning fault to things that have no agency (such as "technology" or "social media"). Don't get me wrong, clearly it is possible for inanimate objects to be causal when it comes to negative affects: a meteor hitting earth may not bare any "moral responsibility", but obviously if we could stop all meteors we would. I also concede that we sometimes use the general abstract technology as a shorthand for the those that may control it (in other words, being angry at social media may mean you are angry at those currently in control of social media, which is totally fair).

All that being said, I am still ultimately troubled by what appears to me as an almost "helplessness" in face of these technologies. We could theoretically everything from NSA wiretapping to long-range coordination of crime to the invention of the telephone. But for some reason, people have a sense that the telephone is just a tool, and part of the tradeoff of any tool is that it can allow bad things as well as good. Ultimately most of this happens on the internet itself: great democratizer and megaphone for ideas good and bad. I feel we should begin to educate and look at this new breed of technologies (social media, etc.) the same way we look and educate with regard to stoves: they allow us to make tea, but be careful, you can also burn yourself.

The thing I find most fascinating about this current discussion is with the repeated proposal of regulating or "nationalizing" social networks. One of the favorite arguments of those speaking out against social media is that since they are private companies, the rules of "free speech" do not have to apply: Facebook and Twitter are free to take a stand on acceptable speech far more opinionated than the Federal government. And yet, if we were to nationalize social networks, they would then necessarily fall under the First Amendment: meaning the speech posted on there should absolutely be protected, and thus accomplishing the exact opposite goal.

I want to make clear that I think the anxiety you and many others feel regarding these new technologies is completely justified. I believe however that you and all of us are much more in control of our destinies than we think though. Then again, I come from the age of the early internet when many of us felt the web was the place where the little guy could absolutely win -- this may be a completely incorrect notion now, but it doesn't yet feel like it to me. Technology moves quicker and quicker, and thus will always feel like "this time is different", and perhaps eventually it will be, but I think the flip side to this built-in fickleness is that we get a lot of redos, and we shouldn't jump to creating legislation that addresses a very specific moment in history that for all we know will be over in the blink of an eye, but have repercussions we don't fully understand for much longer.


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In reality, all societies have exceptions to free speech, such as: threats, libel, inciting riots, hate speech, asking for bribes, etc. Discussing other potential exceptions is hardly fascism.


I believe people who can construct rational arguments deserve to be heard. Generally speaking, kids themselves aren't very rational. I mean, the reason we have an educational system is to provide kids a foundation of knowledge to nurture. Why should we allow these kids access to an irrational source of knowledge that could misguide or harm them?


Sure, social media tends to bring out some negative characteristics in people, and giving air to bad or incorrect ideas. But suppressing people's rights in order to "save the children" (mirroring Christian scares from the 80s/90s) is not the answer. If it were up to me, schools would be providing kids with the tools they need to navigate modern life. Critical thinking skills and psychological tools for mental wellness for a start. Banning things should always be a last resort in my opinion because it never seems to work the way you expect, and can have chilling effects on things you may not be against. Plus the fact that it's presumptive to assume that you know what's best for everyone else on the planet.


Well, I never specifically said that content would be banned. I was mostly referencing a feed-like system where posts are generated based on an algorithm. Perhaps a ranking algorithm could be deployed to undervalue posts which lack credibility or encourage detrimental behavior? I fully agree that providing kids with the ability to navigate this terrain is a better solution.


Who’s judging credibility and detrimental behaviour? You or people with opinions you support I guess? No thanks.

Hundreds of years ago the earth being round would have been one of those not credible ideas that you would have suppressed.


Yes, and these days someone who goes around telling people that the world is flat is less than credible. If I was a parent I would inform my children that the world is, in fact, not flat and the aforementioned person is spewing nonsense. I'm not trying to force my beliefs onto others, just want people to treat themselves and others safely.


But don't you see the problem? You suppressing flat earthers seems fine to you now... in the same way that suppressing round earthers would have seemed sensible to your ancestor back then? And can you see why it would have been wrong to suppress the initial idea that the Earth was round?


"You suppressing flat earthers seems fine to you now.."

As I read it, PP advocates for ignoring those people not suppressing them. Ignoring somebody and punishing them for what they publish is not the same.

Or perhaps more importantly, the question is who does the ignoring? The user or the platform?

Personally, I think users (and not platforms) need better to tools to selectively ignore. For example, it would be great if I could mark somebody on the social network as "unreliable source" and then all people parroting or use that source (transitively through the social graph) would be (proportionally) marked unreliable as well. And vice versa, why cannot I mark things that come from people I know personally as more reliable than things that come from some Russian troll farm (or - for the balance - American astroturfing startup)?


The user is always free to ignore bad info. It's a serious problem when the platform steps in to do the disregarding for you. That is a form of censorship.


> a ranking algorithm could be deployed to undervalue posts which lack credibility

I don't know how you can spin undervaluing something automatically in an algorithm as anything but suppressing it. And it's not 'ignoring' if the person never seem them in the first place because they've been 'undervalued' in the ranking.


That's because your interpretation of the idea is wrong. The algorithm will be only taking social graph into account.. while you (end user) will have full control on how. It's not much different from undervaluing a comment on HN.


It sounds like you’re looking for a web-of-trust. Here’s an example with trust propagation: https://gist.github.com/dionyziz/e3b296861175e0ebea4b.


Not necessarily. There is no reason why this calculation on the social graph cannot be done by a central entity on your behalf. As long as the results of the calculation are transparent, I see no problem with it.

The big problem is that organizations like FB or Google want to "own" the social graph. They won't let you (except in special cases) to play with it.


I think as a civilization we have become more scientific and as a consequence, more reluctant to accept alternate truths which are not based on science. If someone could provide proof that the world is flat then their credibility would improve. However, since that proposition defies basic science, I would first have to be skeptical.


I think you're missing the point - you shouldn't censor ideas just because they are not credible. I can dig through to find my previous list of reasons why but this is the point that both myself and the other commenter are making. It's also at the core of free speech as a principle.

Also, the idea that Western civilisation itself has gotten more scientific is both wishful, and imo would be a terrible thing if it did happen. We've just traded one appeal to authority (priests) for another (pop science promoters and journalists).

Materialism is a great way to investigate natural phenomena but I would hate to live in a society that treats it as a moral principle.


I suspect that people generally don't exhibit rationality when making small daily decisions - Kahneman et al.

I think that teenagers need to practice filtering and evaluating their use of online services somehow so they can decide for themselves when things are getting out of hand. That implies some form of foundation or ground to stand on so to speak.


"I suspect that people generally don't exhibit rationality when making small daily decisions - Kahneman et al."

I wouldn't go as far to claim that they don't "exhibit rationality". I think that we are pretty rational as different beings come (we don't know of anything that comes close to human common sense). What Kahneman is talking about mostly are heuristics, which sometimes can be exploited and lead to irrational behavior.


Because wisdom comes from making mistakes, learning from them, and having context to better extrapolate and evaluate similar scenarios in the future. Censorship of the young denies them that feedback, removes agency from them, and doesn't make them wiser in the process.


But how will they know they have made a mistake when it's all they have ever known? Humanity has reached where it has because of the combined knowledge base of our ancestors. Do we really need to touch fire to realize our mistake? We don't have to relearn everything when our predecessors have already accumulated the wisdom and are willing to share.


Actually, you should relearn everything. That doesn't mean that you need to put everything into production. But re-learning everything is, IMHO, the only way to adapt.

I think there is a sort of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias%E2%80%93variance_tradeoff

If you are conservative, you reduce variance (by sticking to your experience), and if you are progressive, you reduce bias (by learning new things).


> Actually, you should relearn everything. That doesn't mean that you need to put everything into production. But re-learning everything is, IMHO, the only way to adapt.

I actually agree with this! But wouldn't you say that using social media is "putting it into production"?


No, using social media is like discussing it in a meeting (it doesn't really harm anything, just wastes time). Putting it into production means to actually change the society (the laws, customs, etc.) in that way.


Negative consequences/feedback from their social group tend to do the job quite nicely, in most of the cases :-) To paraphrase the old comedian Will Rogers, there's always been three kinds of people in this world:

those who learn by reading

those who learn by observing others

but that third group just _has_ to go and pee on that electric fence.

We can't optimize society to coddle the fence-micturators 100% of the time, unfortunately. Solutions to that problem "don't scale", or get terribly fascist in a hurry.


Yeah. A free society will always have a percentage of the population who do dumb and potentially lethal things, and a percentage of those will get injured or killed because of their own stupidity.

Bu that doesn't mean the answer is to ban everything potentially dangerous. All kinds of activities nowadays (from everyday things like driving to extreme sports) carry a large degree of risk. The answer is simply to accept that freedom to make your own choices means freedom to screw up, and accept that if you're not hurting someone else, then it's your responsibility to stay safe and society won't stop you.


Not that I disagree with you, but the historical reason for a public education system was because the nature of work changed and the economy needed workers who could do more than just labour. Historical context has created much more noble goals since then :)


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I was under the impression that this forum discouraged these types of comments.


It does. Someone will be along to kill it shortly. Also I think when you have enough karma, you can flag comments for review.


Also I think when you have enough karma, you can flag comments for review.

Yep, but the option is hidden away. You have to click on the comment time to view it first.


Yeah, I do flag stuff from time to time, but I wasn't sure when I got the ability to do so.


My girlfriend and I recently started "no phone Sundays". We keep our phones powered off from Saturday night until Monday morning.

We spent this past Sunday navigating around Paris with a paper map, which was felt romantic in kind of a nostalgic way. I realized on the Metro that I kept making eye contact with people older than me - because they were the only ones not on their phones the entire time. I also realised how much not having a phone stimulates my curiosity - I spent my time looking around, listening to new things, and paying attention to what was happening around me.

I think phones are powerful tools. But, your brain gets too used to constant stimulation. I think that it makes you less patient and more anxious as you get used to these constant hits of dopamine. You can never relax, and it makes it tough to live in the moment.


> tough to live in the moment

That is exactly it.

If you're constantly scrolling through social sites, you're either mostly living in the past by hoping someone engaged with whatever you posted or living in the future by thinking "I wonder what XYZ posted, or what's trending on HN".

Stopping to live in the moment sounds like the biggest cliche ever, but it really is one of the "secrets" to really enjoy what you're doing with no forms of procrastination or other bullshit.


Sometimes I really wonder how people use their phones. Is it really necessary to go the extreme of needing to turn it off just to "fight off" the "addiction"?

Speaking about myself, I only have notifications for emails and for messages directly addressed to me. I might check it occasionally on the bus to see what popped up in the news but other than that, I don't have the need to pull it from the pocket all the time.

What exactly do people do different than this with their phones? I really feel that I have been missing something amazing with the smartphone usage when I read posts like this.


> I don't have the need to pull it from the pocket all the time. > What exactly do people do different than this with their phones?

I went to a national park with my GF to watch the recent Perseid. There was no phone signals there. Except for the map, I didn't need it so I didn't care. At multiple times though I reached for my phone to Google questions we were asking ourselves, on nature and space. I guess in a way it pushed us to think more about the subject instead of getting an instant answer, so in a ways it's good, but we never got any actual answers, we just forgot about theses questions though, which I don't feel is good...


It's silly, but I do carry around a notepad so I can make a list of things to look up later.


> Sometimes I really wonder how people use their phones. Is it really necessary to go the extreme of needing to turn it off just to "fight off" the "addiction"?

I'm running a business on my phone, so for me - yes. If I pull out my phone to take a photo on a Sunday and I see that a big client emailed into support, I'll get distracted and feel the need to respond quickly. Monday through Saturday, this is the proper reaction - so I need at least one day a week to disconnect and enforce more strict boundaries.


>for messages directly addressed to me

If that isn't only SMS messages you likely use it like most do. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. I don't have a phone off day but I don't use any social media on my phone at all. I do believe anyone who does could use some time off because it is an addiction and most are addicted. Using it with other people around really should be frowned upon. Like back in the day when you only called people on the phone after 9 and before 21 and not at eating times. It is bad behavior really.


Most people have notifications for all apps on, as it is the standard.


Turning off notifications for all apps is a good (and simple) first step if you want to reduce your habitual smartphone use.


Constant scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. The content is pretty much endless. Lots of people, given any moment of downtime, pull out their phones, scroll, scroll, scroll, open an article, skim it, go back, scroll, scroll, scroll, like some photos, read some captions, scroll, scroll, scroll.


It's funny you should say it like this. I've never had a smartphone and am an American who recently moved to Paris. For the first few months I wonder why old people were so aggressive with their looks. Then I realized it was because they were the only other people on the metro not on their phones. It's an interesting social dynamic.


I do the same thing when I'm sitting around in waiting rooms, and sometimes I'll even say "hello" or "how are you?"

People lament the absence of spontaneous conversation in their lives, but they don't realize that it's because they don't ever make eye contact with anyone else around them. There are tons of people everywhere who love to chat in line, or waiting for a bus, or sitting in waiting rooms. It's how we used to pass time before we bought a black mirror to entertain ourselves.


> Generation Z – people born after 1995 – half of those surveyed stated they had quit or were considering quitting at least one social media platform

That seems incorrectly taken statement. They represent it as though people are leaving social media. That is a false logic. E.g. Peeps may have swapped instagram to snapchat...

It would be interesting to know what % dont use social media by age group.. Something here: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-20...


Funny that your link includes WhatsApp as a social medium. I don't see it like that at all. For me it is just a free alternative to SMS. Besides, they say it is big in Latin Amercia but in my country, Holland, I would guess that by now it is present on >95% of all smartphones. (latest source I could find was from 2016, which states that 92% of all smartphones in the Netherlands have WhatsApp installed, https://tweakers.net/nieuws/109689/whatsapp-staat-op-11-komm...).

I would consider reddit, missing in the article, more of a social network than WhatsApp.


WhatsApp's group chat feature sees the same issues as any other social media platform; spread of disinformation, digital witch hunts, bullying, etc. How is it not a social medium?


My bike has the same problems as my convertible car: It gets flat tires, I get wet when it rains and it costs more energy to go uphill. Is my bike now a convertible car?

The definition of a social network is not in its problems but in its features.

And I'd say one of the defining features of a social network is discovery (e.g. new people, groups that share a common interest, etc.). This is completely lacking in WhatsApp - as you already need to be able to "have access" to the people you want to talk with before you can contact them - but is the integral experience with facebook or instagram.


> spread of disinformation, digital witch hunts, bullying, etc

That are just features of every communication platform, even the traditional postal services.

AFAIK, most people consider social media platforms to be a subset of communication platforms with many to many communication, discovery, community etc..

I'm with you though that the groups feature of WhatsApp could be seen as some basic form of social media. (For the sake of theoretic precision; certainly not for introducing censorship.)


Is having group conversations in person a social medium too?


> Funny that your link includes WhatsApp as a social medium. I don't see it like that at all. For me it is just a free alternative to SMS.

You can post status updates (images, message, videos, ...) with WhatsApp: https://faq.whatsapp.com/en/android/26000031/


But what percent of people actually use these features? I would assume it's in the low single digits.



In China, WeChat is the social medium (and everything else).


I agree, but where to draw the line? I don't use Facebook, but I use Messenger Lite. Am I a user of social media?


True, but the existence of churn is interesting in itself. A few years ago we feared people would be stuck on one platform because all their friends are stuck there.

That doesn't mean people are exactly choosing freely now, they might be following the herd because all their friends are following the herd. But at least upstarts can compete for the future herds.


This article has no substance. Its primary idea is that teens are moving away from social media, but lets look at how it actually backs that idea:

So there's 5 anecdotes from 5 teenagers, all describing their dislike/disuse of social media. I don't know about you, but I think I could get 5 teenagers to back basically any claim I wanted with stories if I asked enough of them. I'm not saying that gathering opinions of the target audience is a bad thing, but just that 5 hand-selected samples out of an incredibly diverse group of people may not be entirely representative or meaningful.

The only qualitative information presented here are the statistics, which I'll rattle off:

63% of British Schoolchildren in 2017 would be happy if social media was never invented according to a survey

A survey of 9000 internet users found that in 2016, 66% said social media was important to them, but only 57% in 2018

58% of US teenagers had taken a break from one social media platform

Facebook users aged 18-24 in Britain expected to fall 1.8% this year

41% of gen z teens said social media made them sad, anxious, or depressed

I think it's entirely possible that there is a large trend among Gen Z of moving away from social media, but I don't think these statistics or anecdotes do a good job backing the claim up.


> The only qualitative information presented here are the statistics

Do you mean quantitative?


Every time something like this gets posted, everyone on HN comes out of the woodwork and explains how they barely use social media.

Snapchat makes it really easy for me to share what I'm doing, my location, and to quickly meet up with people. Messenger is great for group chats that I talk about garbage with mates all day. Instagram is good for sharing and talking about art and design. And Facebook is filled to the brim of fantastic memes, general shitposting and lovely private groups for specific interests. I'm constantly seeing events that my friends are attending on Facebook, and it makes it really easy to organise groups to attend them.

What's not to love? Honestly, I read these threads and just think y'all just using social media wrong; no wonder why you're all having such a miserable time.


>everyone on HN comes out of the woodwork and explains how they barely use social media

It's funny how many people don't see the irony of it. Do people lurk on Facebook or reddit, waiting for the right moment to tell everyone they don't use social media anymore?


Did you read the article? The topic of conversation was teenagers who are looking to unplug because they are tired of what social media turns their peers into. They obviously have many things "not to love". I don't see anyone complaining about having a miserable time on social media - it's just that they recognize the need to unplug due to what social media does to your brain.


Yep.

Do teenagers have unhealthy relationships with social media? Of course. They're teenagers. A lot of their relationships ARE unhealthy at that age anyway, and if disconnecting completely is the best way to rectify those issues, more power to them.

What gets me is grown adults on HN talking about "abhoring social media" and "no phone Sundays with my girlfriend" and "having a minimal social media presence because I hate what it's become" and "I believe social media time should be controlled" and "social media is a class A drug". Like, chill. Go follow a few meme pages and hide the posts of the people you genuinely detest. There are ways to avoid those unhealthy cycles without entirely disconnecting oneself from literally all one's peers and losing the immense utility that social media provides.


It's quite obvious that social media provides utility to their user's lives, but there is much more to consider. When sitting in a lecture hall a quick glace across the room reveals that nearly every student is scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. That's a real issue. They can't sit their phones down for one hour to pay attention to something that will benefit them in the long run. The main issue is that users aren't able to moderate their usage. It's the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they look at during the night. It may not be clear to them that there is much more for this life to offer.


I've learned to accept that social media is just a mixed bag. The easiest way to not get addicted to social media is to just pretend there is no such things as a quantifiable like button. Just pretend it doesn't exist. Just be yourself, do whatever you want, but at the same time still share cool things that happen regardless. For me, this is the following:

- Facebook/messenger is just for messenging convenience and facebook specific groups. I'll make a commitment to using it once a every 1-3 months to keep up with people, looking at friends profiles etc, liking every post when I use it to support other people, then waiting for the next cycle. I post once every 3 months at least to tell people I'm still in good health

- Instagram → dumping cool things I find or cool events I take part of, or things of general interest to me, photos with friends, etc.I'll scroll through every now and then when I'm bored

- Snapchat → don't care, I only message people that only use this

- Linkedin → don't care, once a week / month I'll look at it. Rather build meaningful conversations with people I care about.

- twitter → I just shitpost all my random ideas and things I learn, and cool youtube videos I like / companies I support

Really just know what value your getting out of social media. Steel yourself and don't let ego and envy get to you, just be happy for the other person.

Also, when you learn to accept there's no such thing as privacy, it removes a big cognitive burden. I don't care that instagram is scraping all my photos on my phone, I don't care what google is gathering data from me, things are so much easier when you just accept it for what it is.

I don't care how many people are looking at my profile or how many followers I have, how many likes, its shallow metrics. I care about qualitative things, not quantative.


This.

The amount of social anxiety and peer pressure from constant liking causes so many people on insta and fb to conform to popular opinion or get into harsh arguments with hateful language instead of having meaningful conversations. I think we need to encourage major social media platforms to remove quantitative features from social media such as likes and follower counts. It is just an emotionally destructive feature


I highly recommend adding a browser extension to block out likes and other crap. Personally, I use Stay Productive for Firefox

(disclaimer: I am not the creator of the extension)

https://github.com/antitoine/stay-productive


You're either popular among your friends, unaware of your current social status, or aware and okay with it. Social media, acts a quantification of popularity metrics. The most attractive and popular people get the most engagement on social media, and the least attractive or least popular get the least engagement. For teens, it's a lot harder to ignore your own social status, since all of your socialization takes place in what amounts to a closed system (school and clubs).


Yeah, look, frankly, I am pretty popular among my friends. I'll acknowledge that. But I don't like social media because I'm getting a tonne of engagement with everything I post, or because I pull 300 likes on my newest profile picture, etc.

I like it because it helps me meet up with people in person, reach out to those who I wouldn't otherwise be in contact with, and see the passions, opinions and activities of my friends and peers.


Let's not suggest that social media is what it takes to realize you are unpopular as a teenager.


Social media is a constant, unyielding reminder of exactly how popular you are. It doesn't turn off when you go home, and all of your friends are on it.


> Every time something like this gets posted, everyone on HN comes out of the woodwork and explains how they barely use social media.

I call them "me too"s, and downvote and hide their comments. They aren't helping the conversation, but they look like they are, so they get many upvotes. C'est la vie.


If you don't see how spending all day on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram could be affecting your mental health then obviously you won't understand everyone else's concerns and distaste for Social Media.

The data is pretty clear and teenage anxiety, depression etc are off the charts and can be directly attributed to Social Media. The problems are real.


Not sure how this could be downvoted. It's factually accurate. FB, Snap and Insta astroturfers must be out in force.


(Disclaimer: I am Gen Z)

Honestly, all of these "I refuse to use social media!" type articles just remind me of people who spam "all the music of this generation sucks; I'm 14 and I was born in the wrong generation" on YouTube videos.

Going against the mainstream often is a package deal that comes bundled with a superiority complex against people who choose to engage in the activity that you choose not to engage in.

I saw a comment in this very HN thread that goes so far as to say that youth who use social media display "intellectual vulnerability," and that _not_ using social media is an asset warranting immediate hire.

Social media exists as a way to facilitate communication online over a long-distance, i.e. old friends who now live in different places. Problems that we think are "unique" to social media, like the loudest, wrongest voices getting the most attention, exist in human society outside of social media as well. It's not an exclusive phenomenon.

Of course, not everybody has to use social media.

But you're not a special snowflake just because you don't have an app installed on your phone...


>Honestly, all of these "I refuse to use social media!" type articles just remind me of people who spam "all the music of this generation sucks; I'm 14 and I was born in the wrong generation" on YouTube videos.

So? They aren't that off.

There's this widespread belief that things are either (a) constant, always equally good, or (b) improving all the time. Some people think music for example belongs to (a). But any student of the history of art will know that there are periods where great works come out (in this or that art), and periods where there is drought, or which the main output is crap, and few things last (or even interest people at their own time).

Now, music today has tons of outlets, and there are good works in niche spheres across various genres that sell little or nothing.

But that the mainstream charts are getting worse and more formulaic (and money driven) is a near certainty. In fact it has even been studied, that chart topping songs have lost both melodic and harmonic richness, have flattened their dynamic range (the "loudness wars"), and have regressed several school years in vocabulary used.

>Social media exists as a way to facilitate communication online over a long-distance

That was the demo. The real product has been used for much more, and much worse, than that (from bullying to fake news, and from propaganda to surveillance).

As McLuhan said, the medium is the message, and the way social media structure communication is more important than what is communicated.

>But you're not a special snowflake just because you don't have an app installed on your phone...

Well, if most everybody else has it, then by definition they are a special snowflake, at least in that regard.

And since that's quite a big part of how people today spend their time (1-3 hours a day on social media), that person is probably a special snowflake in other regards too. For one, they get to form their thoughts outside the social media echo chamber...


> There's this widespread belief that things are either (a) constant, always equally good, or (b) improving all the time.

Are you sure that belief is as widespread as (c) things are always getting worse? Do you find that regardless, this is subjective and saying things are a near certainty like it's objective is just reinforcing the parent's point?

> And since that's quite a big part of how people today spend their time (1-3 hours a day on social media), that person is probably a special snowflake in other regards too. For one, they get to form their thoughts outside the social media echo chamber...

Not sure it's fair to take an average and compare it to an individual and pretend there is no middle ground. It's even less fair to assume that one on social media cannot form their own thoughts, that ones off social media can, and that other mediums of social activity that people spend hours of a day doing don't have other effects. It comes off as guessing at best and curmudgeony at worst. If your social media situation is a thoughtless echo chamber (or your social situation in any aspect), that isn't fair to assume this is the case for everyone.


>Are you sure that belief is as widespread as (c) things are always getting worse?

Depends on the era, society and demographics. In the US, and in the geekier communities, it's usually (b), and sometimes (a), seldom (c).

>Do you find that regardless, this is subjective and saying things are a near certainty like it's objective is just reinforcing the parent's point?

No, I don't believe it is subjective. It might be fuzzy, and some might disagree, but e.g. quality of art output for a period is not subjective, in the way e.g. color preferences are.

>Not sure it's fair to take an average and compare it to an individual and pretend there is no middle ground.

The average mentioned is not like averaging mine and Bill Gates wealth. The standard deviation is quite low. If anything those that use their phones just say 10 minutes per day are the outliers.


I'm Gen X, and unless you count message boards and HN-like places I've never used social media.

Not because I thought "the music of this generation sucks" but because it was easy to see the horrific way the Internet was going to go with walled gardens and centralization. I predicted 10 years ago if you uploaded and tagged photos on facebook you were giving up 100% of your privacy forever, as now every single photo of you ever taken (private or in public) will eventually be tracked to a name. I think generations coming up today really missed out on seeing the potential of the Internet, and what's it's become is nothing resembling the dreams of the 90's.

There are far more reasons to be wary and not participate in social media than "I'm just better than everyone".

And yes - it's a huge hit to your ability to continue an active social life. But things like SMS, Instant Messenger phones, e-mail, etc. still exist. The other downside is you tend to collect friends willing to deal with that, so it can kind of put you into a bubble if you don't reach outside your comfort zone.

I've found dating someone with an already established social media presence (e.g. too late to opt out, why bother) is a decent compromise :)


> And yes - it's a huge hit to your ability to continue an active social life.

Also Gen X, also don’t touch social media, and I don’t agree with this at all, despite how much it gets repeated here. Staying away from Facebook has had zero effect on my social life or ability to catch up with friends and family. In fact, I’m busier than ever outside of work and home. I assure you all, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch and maintain an active social life without scrolling through a company moderated ‘feed’ on your phone. The old-school ways still work fine and, as a bonus, don’t require you to be glued to your phone.


If you were in the dating pool, you would likely agree with that statement.


Unless I'm missing something, just give your phone number and text.


While that never died, social media is the modern rolodex. And on top of that, someone can jog their memory of you and warm the iron back up a little bit.

Swapping social media details has been more effective for me because often I don't pounce on a number immediately. And I would hate to lose contact with someone just because I didn't.

Social media keeps someone on the fringe of your vision. Bit easier to spark something from that than cold-texting "hey, it's Jeremy from that one party two months ago. remember me?"

Besides, at age 30 and having been dating for a long time, I can't tell you how many times social media has given me serendipities like someone asking what to do while visiting the city I live in and I can PM them with "hey, I'll show you around."


I rather meet prospective dates in person not via tinder /coffee meets bagel type appsm I understand that you are exposed to far more people online, dating pool wise, but in University I was surrounded by 50,000 students and I thrived by physically going to organized clubs and events I was genuinely interested in and chatting it up and exchanging info. Now outside of University, these apps and even online dating get more locked in when you are exposed to less people on the regular.


Some women find it odd if you don't have a FB. This may have changed slightly in recent years though, as trends away from F have started.


is hacker news not social media?


Maybe? I guess it depends on how you define social media. It sure has elements of social media, with its up and down voting, and the karma scorecard. People here don’t tend to know each other though and there is no following, re-tweeting, or even lazy image sharing, so I don’t know, is HN social media?


IMO Hacker News is representative of the slightly earlier than social media concept User Generated Content:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-generated_content


The original concept of Web 2.0.


That’s fair. I can certainly understand privacy concerns/just general disinterest in social media as a reason to not use it.

The article, though, at least to me, seemed more like it was more about just not using the popular thing.


>The article, though, at least to me, seemed more like it was more about just not using the popular thing.

How's that bad? Being able to resist what's popular is a good thing too. We rely too much on following fashions and trends.


Resisting things just because the are popular is as effective as doing them just because they are.


Effective at what?


Pursuing one's actual goals rather than letting emotions, arising from identity challenges, guide one's behaviour. Or not, in this case.


Of course we wouldn't know that without knowing these people's actual goals.


Your comment makes no sense in regards to the parent discussion.


First, someone said this:

==How's that bad? Being able to resist what's popular is a good thing too. We rely too much on following fashions and trends.==

You responded with this:

==Resisting things just because the are popular is as effective as doing them just because they are.==

I am pointing out that you have no idea what the motives are and have simply assumed it is "because they are popular". Maybe the reason they want to resist what is popular is in order to spark their creativity or focus on specific niches. You are trying to make value judgements with almost no information.


> The article, though, at least to me, seemed more like it was more about just not using the popular thing.

If you're never going to dive deeper than that I can see where your misconceptions come from.

Sometimes the popular thing should be avoided, for very good reasons.


I've definitely addressed the fact that there are good reasons for not using social media in other comments on this very thread.

I'm just saying that not using social media doesn't make you "better" than anybody else.

That is literally all I am saying.

I might not respond to any more comments after this, because I'll end up repeating myself all afternoon.


> Social media exists as a way to facilitate communication online over a long-distance, i.e. old friends who now live in different places.

That's an optimistic view to hold. If that was the case we'd pay money for the service. But we don't because that's not how social media companies make money. They make money by learning information about you by tracking who you are and what you do. That's the business model. Not making you more connected to anyone or anything. They make money by keeping you on the site as long as possible and showing you as many advertisements as possible. We can debate the efficacy of how well advertisement/political campaigns are but a corporation's job is to make money and social media's corporations incentives are clear. I'm not comfortable giving up information about myself for free, and I am not so confident that I'll make smart decisions in the face of advertisers and political activists. So I'll continue to abstain from social media. Not because I feel superior but because I fear the business incentives and I don't want to risk subjecting myself to hyper personalized advertisement campaigns.

Also it's a huge time sink, and I have the phone numbers of all the people I would ever want to contact. Calling or texting someone is a much more preferable to me, and has none of the costs of social media.


> That's an optimistic view to hold. If that was the case we'd pay money for the service.

Yet I think a reasonable view to hold from the perspective of a user. I don't see how that view has anything to do with payment. The monetary value to people is not the same as the purpose something exists or is used by people. The business model of the outlets matters not to many of the users and I'd say it's not out of ignorance, it's out of apathy.

To the rest of your comment, we are basically the same person. We just need to recognize that we are neither objectively right nor are frequent social media users objectively wrong. And most importantly, we don't need to berate users of social media with our perceived righteousness (not saying you are, just concurring w/ the parent in general).


> Yet I think a reasonable view to hold from the perspective of a user.

What someone thinks they're getting out of something, and what they're actually getting out of it can be very different, and when the differences are huge, the consequences can be deadly.

MLM participants THINK they're getting an independent business opportunity - and sure, that's a "reasonable view to hold from the perspective of a user" - right? They've got product, a market, a way to transact sales, a clear hierarchy to climb... But a broader perspective and closer inspection of the details reveals it is a terrible business position to be in that puts all the risk on you, the individual. But it's easy to see how someone who doesn't have the skills or training to examine such things might think the opportunity is "reasonable."

So yes, I wouldn't be surprised if most users were convinced of the utility they were getting out of their use of Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat etc... but like the person caught up in MLM, they can't see the real risks and side effects until they become overwhelming.


>But you're not a special snowflake just because you don't have an app installed on your phone

I don't think this elitism is the biggest reason people quit social media. Quitting social media has bigger consequences for elitist mindsets-- that is, having a social media presence involves more opportunity to curate an image that is seen by others as "elite".

This kind of thinking is also a coping mechanism. Going against common practice is isolating but if you can think of it as elevating or distinguishing then you can more easily accomplish your goals or follow through with what you're thinking and feeling on a particular issue. It's hard to quit social media, even if it's no longer benefiting you.

So, ultimately, your complaints of this kind of elitism are pointless and change nothing. They say nothing valuable about the state of the world or the state of this change.


>Social media exists as a way to facilitate communication online over a long-distance, i.e. old friends who now live in different places.

This is a very specific use case. I doubt that "fishing girls on Facebook/Tinder" fits the need of communication with people living far away.

Some problems that we think are unique in social media exist in real life as well. The difference is about "access", which makes it scarier and more dangerous. Back then only people with good connections were able to shape and manipulate public opinion. Now it takes a blog or a Facebook account.


Totally agree, and I think this is where so much discussion gets off track - few problems are ones that haven't been seen before in human history. But when something comes along that suddenly facilitates or exacerbates a problem in a uniquely powerful way, we need to really examine that.

I'm like full of weird analogies today, (see other posts on this thread) but, like, take the modern diet. It's not as though obesity, or diabetes, or heart failure, or whatever, never existed until now; but some things changed in how we create, package and distribute food over the past century: food processing and preservation, artificial flavors and fillers, pesticides and antibiotics, sugar... sugar EVERYWHERE. And yeah, all of these things have come with ENORMOUS benefits. But we're also starting to realize the cumulative effects these new processes are having on the public health.

We already KNOW there are massive negative side effects of Social Media use for individuals - especially with depression and bullying, and unhealthy self-image. And collectively we're starting to see the effects of such a singularly huge network with no accountability or oversight and how that can shape public opinion and knowledge. All this noise about Social Media is just us as a society trying to figure out just what to do about it all.


Aren't you simply doing the same thing with an opposite opinion?

Your "communicate over long distances" reasoning is just additional bunk... unless of course, you consider email social media.


> Aren't you simply doing the same thing with an opposite opinion?

Defending ones position and imposing/guilting ones position are different I think.

> Your "communicate over long distances" reasoning is just additional bunk... unless of course, you consider email social media.

Why is it bunk? Why are people so quick to assume someone's true motives for using something are false even to themselves? It's ok to say you suffer from the cognitive dissonance to recognize their intentions, but you should just assume you don't know instead of calling their reasons false.

One could consider email the precursor to modern social media, and if as a medium it offered what modern social media outlets do, it would still prevail.


As stated elsewhere in this thread, social media is about collecting your data. This includes what you like, what you hate, what makes you happy, who you love, who you look up to, etc...

Now, this can be used to set your(not you but the social media user, no need to be an addict) mood and thus your emotions. This is what advertisers use to target ads or design them.

Your "intellect", in the short therm, is heavily dependent on your mood and your emotions. By "intellect", I'm referring to how you interact to the environment. (E.g. a sad person would interact with other people differently than a person that just made a million dollars).

So, if social media has such a handle on your emotions they have a handle on your intellect (its manifestations, which is the only thing other people can perceive ).

I would say "that intellect" is vulnerable. Because it is not serving your best interests. Because it's been manipulated to make you want to buy a new car, for example.

PS: I know this is controversial opinion and a lot of people will hate it. But I do believe this is the case given my current understanding of machine learning capabilities and human cognition.


Every generation has the same pattern, it's just the details that change.

Kids are always lazy. This generation always have their heads in their phones, but we had video games and before us it was TV, music, and dancing that was rotting our kids brains. There's a quote floating around on social media claiming to be from the early 1900s, complaining about how kids spend all their time reading books.

There's always the ones who were born in the wrong generation. That's a growing demographic just because there's been such a huge explosion of culture and art in the last 80 or so years. Your parents basically had 50s rock'n'roll or the free-loving 60s as their missed generations. You've got 90s rave culture, 80s punk and 70s disco as well, and all of them and more will continue to have their own subcultures for years to come. Your own kids will reminisce fondly of a time they never saw, when everybody drove their own cars which had powerful internal combustion engines and 00's indie or 10's K-pop was the pinnacle of music.

And you'll always get the ones who choose not to join in with whatever this generation's thing is. Those who didn't watch Doctor Who last night, the ones who refuse to collect stickers for the World Cup, and now those have no interest in getting Instagram followers.

One noticeable difference is that this generation are the first to see the consequences of social media. They're the first to experience facebook stalking as an everyday thing, the first to see people fired for things they did at the weekend, the first to see people having their entire life history investigated as part of a job application. Little wonder they're starting to be a little more concerned about their privacy.


> Every generation has the same pattern, it's just the details that change [...] One noticeable difference is that this generation are the first to see the consequences of social media.

Sounds to me like just another detail and if you take any generation condemning the next in that pattern you mention, you'll see they are the first to see consequences of the new thing. It's just another step in the evolution, albeit one we may not like.


> I saw a comment in this very HN thread that goes so far as to say that youth who use social media display "intellectual vulnerability," and that _not_ using social media is an asset warranting immediate hire.

Not blindly following a trend or mindlessly using (or being used by) technology is definitely a plus. The point is about reflection, being able to justify one's position.

> But you're not a special snowflake just because you don't have an app installed on your phone...

Name-calling does not much to solidify your position in this discourse, neither does over-generalization.


Please explain to me how an active choice to use specific apps is equivalent to “blindly following a trend.”

For all you know, people could just _want_ to use Facebook, Twitter, etc., for their own personal reasons.


And people can also _not_ want to use social media for their own personal reasons. That doesn't make them holier-than-thou, or a hipster, or condescending just because they make the less popular choice.


It's not choosing to do the less popular choice that is annoying the OP, it's when people make the less popular choice and feel the need to tell everyone about it that's annoying. It's just another form of snobbery, like the people that look down on others for watching TV or drinking things besides craft beers.


Okay, but who cares if it's annoying? What is the point of bringing up the fact that sometimes people are annoying when they make certain choices? How does that add to meaningful discussion, how does that even create meaningful discussion?


> Okay, but who cares if it's annoying?

Lots of people, same people who don't like being guilted by portions of society in general. The real question is, if they find it annoying, why do you care?

> What is the point of bringing up the fact that sometimes people are annoying when they make certain choices?

I thought this was clear, that it's not about making the choices, it's about imposing the choice upon you via bombardment, guilt, perceived righteousness, etc.

> How does that add to meaningful discussion, how does that even create meaningful discussion?

Surely you can understand the level at which society accepts/approves of certain actions has value? And if you do, how does one derive that level sans discussion?


>same people who don't like being guilted by portions of society in general.

Being "guilted" is not an act others do to you, it's a mind-state you inflict on yourself.

>The real question is, if they find it annoying, why do you care?

I don't care if anyone finds anything annoying. But I do care when someone waxes useless about it on a forum that is supposed to generate meaningful discussion.

>it's about imposing the choice upon you via bombardment, guilt, perceived righteousness, etc.

Again, these are all things you yourself give permission to affect you.

>Surely you can understand the level at which society accepts/approves of certain actions has value? And if you do, how does one derive that level sans discussion?

Go back and look at OP's comment, and then look at your comment that I replied to. The "point" both you and OP have made is that elitism is annoying. You gave no commentary on "the level at which society accepts/approves of certain actions". You literally only said that elitism is annoying. Might as well have said that the sky is blue.


> Being "guilted" is not an act others do to you, it's a mind-state you inflict on yourself.

It's also a mind-state inflicted by others on others who vote and build general sentiment towards changing laws that do affect you. General discourse and sentiment matters even if it does not matter to you. This sentiment can be based on what is annoying, what is pervasive, what is elitist, what is ok, etc. The discussion about that matters.


I have not claimed what you claimed I did.

Someone who is not doing what everybody else is doing is just very easy to spot and piques my interest. So yes, it is a door-opener when looking for a job with some (like me). That does not mean I'd hire you - give me some nonsense justification and you're out.

This is not about judgement of specific technologies and their use, but about self reflection.


> Social media exists as a way to facilitate communication online over a long-distance, i.e. old friends who now live in different places.

I... I dunno. I think that's what we'd all LIKE to think, and it's certainly what FB and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat all WANT you to think. And there IS some degree of "yes it does kind of do that" and certainly it's fair to say these companies probably started with that mission.... But, like, what is - truly - the primary "thing" (I'd say "value" but I don't want to imply benefit) being extracted from SM use by the vast majority of users? Is it really communication utility? Or are side-effects beginning to outweigh the original benefits?

This may be going off the rails a bit, but hear me out for a second: Let's take pharmaceutical opioids, for example. They certainly were created with the intent of improving the quality of life of individuals experiencing pain. And they certainly DO have that effect for some - even many. But there's no denying that for a huge - tragically huge - number of people, they are an addiction with often fatal consequences.

It seems to me that "Social Media" is kind of getting to be in the same boat. Like it was created for all these great reasons ("to facilitate communication online over a long-distance" as you say) but there's no denying that it is also the cause of severe problems for a LOT of people - especially young people. It IS addictive, habit-forming, depression-inducing, among other possible negative side effects. And in that sense, yes, it does need to be addressed

For example, if someone were to say "Yeah, I don't care how much pain I'm in, I'm avoiding opiate pain meds entirely because I know they can be habit-forming, and I can see what that does to people so no way am I going to risk it." you'd probably be like "sure, I get it. Pain's gonna be rough, but, yeah... there's a risk." You wouldn't say "Well don't you just think you're a special snowflake mister 'I-don't-want-to-get-addicted'...." Right? And yes, there's always some wannabe trend-followers who flaunt their life decisions to get attention, but that doesn't in any way mean there isn't a real problem to be addressed.


I agree that using or not using social media shouldn't be made into some special thing.

(I'm 28 for context). My experience with most of social media though, is that none of my friends ever seemed interested in actually socializing on there.

All I ever really saw on Facebook, for example, was re-posting memes, often political in nature. No actual conversations though.

So I wonder if that's other people's experience as well?


Social media exists as a way to facilitate the collection of advertising revenue. All other considerations flow from that.


Pretty much this, there seems to be a lot of religious arguments within these replies rather than logical ones...


Yet you managed to feel superior to both. Classic case of https://xkcd.com/774/

There are many very good reasons to dislike and avoid social media, that are not "hispterism". You banal dismissal as "they they just want to be special snowflakes" rubs me the wrong way.


Oh please. So everyone who has concerns about the loss of privacy must have a superiority complex?

"You're not a special snowflake just because you don't have an app installed on your phone"

...I think I figured out who actually has the superiority complex here.


My comment was about the people featured in this type of article, and people who feel they are “better” than the rest for not making a mainstream decision.

If your reason for not using social media is concerns over privacy, then maybe you don’t fall into the above classification, and what I said doesn’t apply to you.

Either way, I wasn’t talking about privacy concerns, and you responded as if my entire comment was an attack on people with said concerns. Which it wasn’t.


Who in the article said they feel superior?

Here's the people from the article:

Mary Amanuel - saw her friend obsessing over likes and thought it to be unhealthy, realized she used social media to put on a false face and stopped.

Isabelle - doesn't like how her friends engage with social media on their phones in lieu of talking to the people in front of them, prefers to spend her free time outdoors, and was disturbed by how Cambridge Analytica used social media.

Emily Sharp - saw cyber bullying and didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Jeremiah Johnson - realized he was competing for the appearance of "happiness" and decided it was unhealthy.

Tyreke Morgan - prefers to make deep connections in person over maintaining lists of hundreds of "friends".

I don't see any of them saying they feel "better" than others. You are projecting.


Why does it matter if some people think they are better than others? What are you trying to add to the discussion here? Your point in this thread amounts to, "apples are crunchy and sweet".


> Going against the mainstream often is a package deal that comes bundled with a superiority complex against people who choose to engage in the activity that you choose not to engage in.

Ironically, your post reeks of a superiority complex found only in those that like to point out how much smarter they are than the people they are criticising because they believe they've spotted a pattern in their behaviour; and to show everyone how they didn't conform to that same behaviour.


Not really, no.

I don't believe I'm any smarter than these people - I'm just pointing out that the article is treating them like they are smarter than everybody else.

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