Other negatives- I click on one picture of a scantily clad woman and my entire search feed turns into softcore porn for a month.
Culture is too vain. Selfies, blatantly showing off, spending hours on touch up apps were looked down upon in the entire history of the internet until that Ellen selfie photo that got huge. Apple, Facebook, Google, the media all advertised and made it socially accepted that the vanity is good. That had it’s pros and cons but I feel like we are crossed over on the cons side too much.
The culture is too global. Everyone’s opinions/posts/comments all converge to the same dumbed down pop culture accepted norms/memes. Everyone tries to be funny in the exact same socially accepted way and there is no originality.
These metronomes start out tick-tocking in their own time, but each affects the other until they are all locked in perfect sync.
This is what global digital media culture is doing to us, subtle nudges to conform to a single global monoculture, so gradual that it's hard to see it happening until it's happened.
The people that don't share those views? They continue not sharing them and get increasingly frustrated by social media platforms drowning them out.
This is a key aspect of the widening political left/right divide. Every meaningful topic is divided into two opposing categories, and then the people who hold the less loud view are drowned out. Voat.co was created when moderate/right leaning abandoned reddit. Now it's a bastion of the alt-right.
It's true that this isn't the case for everyone, but unfortunately the loud voices often have a disproportionate effect on reality.
Maybe not, but it certainly does influence which beliefs people choose to talk about. It also influences the range of beliefs people think it is possible to hold, which I think does influence people's beliefs and opinions over the long term.
You might be interested in this interactive demo of social networks: https://ncase.me/crowds/. It explores how the connectivity structure of social networks impacts the spread of ideas.
One obvious negative example I think is mobbing. In most cases, it's not preceded by a bunch of people all agreeing "let's be mean to this person". Things like timing, tone of voice, choice of words, and body language can be more than enough. Maybe the people who engage in mobbing have a similar history, but never talked about it, they "just like X", and "just can't stand Y".
The rationalizations come after the decision, and that's much more potent when the involved people cannot admit their subsurface reasons to themselves. Because then projection usually enters into it, and any resistance against that projection (like showing the absence of a quality they projected) makes people feel threatened even more by what they sought to get rid of by projection. I think projection is both an overused word (by me), and an underrated concept (including by me). It drives the hatred of the vulnerable and poor, it drives so much.
And if one is so scared of something, even when it's at rest, that they "have to" throw at it at someone else, who then throws it back with velocity (i.e. now it's no longer at rest), that can escalate quickly and extremely just between two invested people, even more so between invested groups.
A global monoculture, or many distinct monocultures, are both bad for the same reasons IMO. And even groups that ultimately are very similar can end up as sworn enemies depending on how things develop. Be it because they already carved up territory and want to control a medium pie rather than be part of a larger pie, or because they're just so invested in the projection of their own ills on the enemy group (which likely does the same to them).
> [Hitler] can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it. That, so far as I can see, is the direction in which we are actually moving, though, of course, the process is reversible.
-- George Orwell
And while I posted this quote too often, it's too relevant to the subject of cultural monoculture to not repeat it here... I actually wish I hadn't posted it before, now that I saw your comment!
> From a philosophical viewpoint, the danger inherent in the new reality of mankind seems to be that this unity, based on the technical means of communication and violence, destroys all national traditions and buries the authentic origins of all human existence. This destructive process can even be considered a necessary prerequisite for ultimate understanding between men of all cultures, civilizations, races, and nations. Its result would be a shallowness that would transform man, as we have known him in five thousand years of recorded history, beyond recognition. It would be more than mere superficiality; it would be as though the whole dimension of depth, without which human thought, even on the mere level of technical invention, could not exist, would simply disappear. This leveling down would be much more radical than the leveling to the lowest common denominator; it would ultimately arrive at a denominator of which we have hardly any notion today.
> As long as one conceives of truth as separate and distinct from its expression, as something which by itself is uncommunicative and neither communicates itself to reason nor appeals to "existential" experience, it is almost impossible not to believe that this destructive process will inevitably be triggered off by the sheer automatism of technology which made the world one and, in a sense, united mankind. It looks as though the historical pasts of the-nations, in their utter diversity and disparity, in their confusing variety and bewildering strangeness for each other, are nothing but obstacles on the road to a horridly shallow unity. This, of course, is a delusion; if the dimension of depth out of which modern science and technology have developed ever were destroyed, the probability is that the new unity of mankind could not even technically survive. Everything then seems to depend upon the possibility of bringing the national pasts, in their original disparateness, into communication with each other as the only way to catch up with the global system of communication which covers the surface of the earth.
-- Hannah Arendt, "Men in Dark Times" (1968), in the essay about Karl Jaspers
And not just the national pasts I'd say, also the past and present of individuals. The people and nations as they actually are, with the messy details... not the memes they repeat or the things they "support". I think the danger is that when people are not standing for themselves, but referring to something they consider unassailable, or an abstraction they cannot even explain, just use, while being convinced that's better than standing for oneself (than "merely having an opinion")... then they quickly unlearn standing for themselves, and unlearning thinking follows from that.
To "conceive of truth as separate and distinct from its expression" is something many seem to consider desirable and noble, as best practice and highly scientific. And of course we all depend on trust and expert knowledge; but there's a difference between knowing that, and outsourcing oneself completely and for good. We learn a lot of things based on more or less blind trust as children, but then it's still good to doublecheck those things as adult.
The opposite of that would be boiling down everything into stuff that can be counted, memes that replace thought, etc. Voting instead of arguing is one example, judging things purely on financial gain or how many people agree is another. It sometimes makes sense, it can be very practical, but if it reaches the point where, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, "Things are in the saddle, And ride mankind.", if the tools use us rather than the other way around, then that's too much. The extinction Arendt warned of might very well come about, but "just" as the extinction of human individuality and thought.
> It can be hidden only in complete silence and perfect passivity, but its disclosure can almost never be achieved as a willful purpose, as though one possessed and could dispose of this "who" in the same manner he has and can dispose of his qualities. On the contrary, it is more than likely that the "who," which appears so clearly and unmistakably to others, remains hidden from the person himself, like the daimon in Greek religion which accompanies each man throughout his life, always looking over his shoulder from behind and thus visible only to those he encounters. This revelatory quality of speech and action comes to the fore where people are with others and neither for (the doer of good works) nor against them (the criminal) that is, in sheer human togetherness. Although nobody knows whom he reveals when he discloses himself in deed or word, he must be willing to risk the disclosure.
-- Hannah Arendt, "The Human Condition"
We're now kinda saying no, we don't actually have to "risk the disclosure", and nobody can expect from us to disclose ourselves, nor to face others as the actual people they disclose themselves as. Adopting what the group thinks or what we consider "objectively true", labeling statements to deal with the label and not the statement, labeling persons to deal with the label and not the person, those might all be symptoms of the same inability to stand for oneself, which comes packaged with the inability to let others stand for themselves. The lights are on everywhere, but many houses are empty.
"of course, the process is reversible" :)
[I proofread and shortened this a bunch of times, sorry for it being still long and probably still containing many errors.]
What exactly is the problem with a monoculture? Loss of individuality? And since you say the process is reversible, how do you think we could reverse it?
Yeah, though I can't say for sure if loss of individuality causes monoculture, or the other way around, or both. In the extreme extrapolation I would we wouldn't even be all the same humans, but simply not humans anymore. More like conduits, marionettes of each other.
As for reversing it, I think that begins with the individual, with reclaiming oneself if you will. And that in turn starts with granting oneself the right to do that, wherever one feels comfortable and good about it. By that I mean, just because we're all so deep into something that might have been going on for generations, and can't just instantly "fix" everything, doesn't mean we can't take small steps and consider those meaningful.
It's a bit like someone might refrain from using product X for ethical reasons, even though they use a lot of other products with bad ethical implications. So, IMO it starts by rejecting the pervasive idea that little decisions matter. At the least, they always matter for the person making them. We don't have to be "proud" of such decisions, but we should not belittle them either, and should not mind when people belittle them.
> Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.
-- Henry George
> Think deeply about things. Don’t just go along because that’s the way things are or that’s what your friends say. Consider the effects, consider the alternatives, but most importantly, just think.
-- Aaron Swartz
And you know, I don't even think "just think" is a simplicistic answer, it may be the best. Because what that means in practice is different for each person, and that's kinda the point.
Yes, what you do may not right away stop others from going crazy on social media, but you never know from what little thing good changes may come. Just like nobody would have thought a little website to rate the hotness of students would turn into what Facebook is now ^^
> You have to remember that in democratic societies citizens talking with each other is very important. We've lost a lot of that with the mass media. Now we have an opportunity for citizens to create their own communications with each other. So when these big deals with the big companies and the big governments carve up this new territory, I feel it's very important that we keep a kind of "social green belt", that we keep the ability for citizens to talk amongst each other.
-- Howard Rheingold, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_o8gerare0&t=22m14s
When I came across that, it made me sad because of how it all developed from such optimistic beginnings, but I'll never say "that ship has sailed". If it has, make another one. We can still do that, we still deserve it.
But it requires confidence. To stand in for yourself, even against "group think" which can be very motivated, you have to be a good, honest friend to yourself, and maybe to people you don't want to become prey of the group. That's easy to say, being one's own friend (without that meaning delusion) can be very hard, just like "have confidence in yourself" is easy to say, and very frustrating for someone who doesn't know how. Just draw the rest of the owl! But, have confidence in yourself :)
The comments aren't any better. In the past, I remember that even on photo posts, there would be substantive comments discussing the destination pictured in the photo. Now it seems its mostly unsubstantive "oh wow so beautiful", "what a wonderland", "wish I could go there", etc. There are some exceptions, but they're rarer.
I really wish there was a good solution to this, or at least a place to go to avoid the "instagram culture". Unfortunately, as you mentioned, all of the non-"instagram culture" sites have been mostly pushed out by monoliths like reddit. And as for solving it, it seems that most of society is still not convinced that "instagram culture" is a bad thing that needs to be solved in the first place.
edit: I just opened up the "top posts of all time" page on that subreddit, and of the 600 posts I scrolled through, 599 were photo posts that were submitted within the past year (there are probably even more, but I just stopped scrolling at 600). The lone non-photo post was asking for help finding a missing person. Every other previous text post (even the megathreads giving advice for popular destinations, which used to be a huge part of r/travel) have been drowned out by the "Instagram culture" posts.
4chan travel board /trv/ has very little instagram-like content - it has other issues though.
I help moderate a mid-size subreddit (100,000-500,000 subscribers) and we're completely overrun by low quality content.
We tried adding new rules, silently removing/banning offending users, and making repeat announcements, but it seems like it's too little too late. A rehashed joke post can easily receive 100+ points in an hour while a good post may receive, at most, 20 points in the same time.
Don't make voting visible and don't show people their points. You still need voting so popular topics bubble to the top. You still maybe need user points so users who post bad content get bad scores? (maybe you don't need this).
What you don't need is for any of it to be visible. User's seeing their points go up is a gamification technique that pushes their (and my) button. "Oh! I just got 150pts!" feels so good so I'm compelled to try to get more points.
I notice my point total here on HN. Every time I see it go up I'm conscious of a little pleasure bump I get "oh, some people agreed with me or thought my post was useful!". I've thought about writing a browser extension to hide it from myself. Mostly the only thing I want to know is if I got replies.
It changed the sub significantly. Some people liked the more serious tone, some people felt like the fun had been sucked out. At the end of the day, you can't please everyone.
See for example this paper: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=832627
By modeling communication in the context of problem solving and running simulations with that model, the authors show that less efficient communication can have better long-term results.
I'm afraid that the speed, ease, and low cost of communication is increasingly encouraging us to look outwards instead of inwards when faced with problems to solve. Which means humanity will tend to quickly converge on the first "solution" instead of spending more time searching the solution space for better solutions. This really bothers me, and I don't know what we can do about it (or if we should do anything about it).
It's especially bad among coders.. There seems to be a lot of people who got sucked into software work for financial reasons, but never really learned the basics of how to research something and apply their knowledge. Instead of treating software development as a form of engineering, they treat it like a puzzle and kludge their way through with a hodgepodge of copy-pasted snippets they don't ever try to understand.
I'm also not sure what (if anything) to do about the issue, though.. I don't run into those people in the belly of big OS/platform vendors I've worked for, so maybe it's really just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things
Twitter was better when it just displayed posts from accounts you follow, in chronological order.
Exactly the same goes for Instagram.
I have since closed my Twitter account. I had it for 10 years, and I had over 5k followers. The algorithm constantly forced SJW lunatics into my feed no matter how aggressively I muted keywords.
I still have my Instagram, but the same problem exists. It’s become super low-quality content, and lots of ads. Instagram was great because the community felt real. Now in my case it’s either soft-porn, or travel-porn. The travel-porn is probably worse. People taking unoriginal photos, with all the same filters, with a completely disingenuous question posed in the caption in an effort to generate comments, and subsequently more network effects by pleasing the Instagram algorithm.
Even the adverts displayed to me are often just people’s personal profiles. Is this the real life? People are paying a platform to promote their selfies? It’s madness.
Instagram will collapse eventually.
Those were literally the first two from my feed just then.
I used to find Quora interesting but it just has so much of this low-quality spam on it now.
For my feed it's all that or military stuff, which I do find interesting on occasion, so I do see why that's there.
I wonder if it's just our feeds or if the whole of Quora is like that.
I am an Indian and I concur. I honestly don't remember the last time I visited Quora since then.
Throughout most of my life, we would break out physical photo albums or an occasional VHS to reminisce. They’d be group photos, vacation pictures, captured moments from a birthday or wedding. I can’t imagine how we would react to a friend pulling out a photo album that contained the stuff many popular Instagram accounts post. They would seem psychotically narcissistic.
Yet, we aren’t that far removed in time from selfie sticks being a joke. And it feels like we are an eternity apart in how our attitudes have adjusted.
Me and my gf are generally against selfies and as such we distinctly remember the people that we ask for a photo at various tourist destinations (well, most of them, anyway). Yeah, that means that we don't have an endless stream of photos of the two of us taken together but that only means that the ones that we do have are even more special. Plus, like I said, we can reminisce about the actual people that took those photos of us and with whom we interacted (our favorite is a chic French lady in her 50s who offered to take a photos of us while we were on top of the Basilica San Pietro dome in Rome).
People laughed at selfies only 5 years ago, thinking it was a bit self-interested, now it's a normal part of the culture.
This is not even close to a new phenomenon or a new complaint. The main difference is that almost everyone carries a camera all the time now, the marginal cost of taking additional photos is basically 0, and sharing pictures is easier than ever.
Vanity has always existed, and as much as it's a dirty word in many's eyes, it does have a purpose.
However, for whatever reason (there are tons of reasons and probably all of them play a part), it's more normalised and common than it ever has been before, for better or worse.
I can say with confidence that only rarely were people taking photos of only themselves 15 years ago. Today its a regular occurence.
Whether that is the vanity that has increased, the ability and proliferation of photos that has increased, or just the normalisation of the expression I don't know, because as other have said, vanity has always existed, but certainly selfies themselves are way more regular and a self-interested culture appears more normalised.
Perhaps through all of time people would be stepping on an anonymous soapbox had it existed, but it's only available today?
You've been Overton'd, and you think that something that was sold to you is something that is spontaneous or natural.
People also have hundreds of photos of lattes, food, cats, their friends, and all kinds of other stuff that makes them happy.
Taking photos of yourself, on the other hand, just seems to me to be grossly narcissistic. Like, why have thousands of photos of yourself in your phone? Super weird IMO
Sometimes other people do genuinely want to see you in a photo. I like seeing my friends and family in pictures, and they like seeing me in pictures. You can take it to an extreme, but a lot of the, frankly, bordering on self-righteous conversation around selfies on HN tends to imply, intentionally or no, that any selfies == gross narcissism instead of, you know, a genuine way to connect to people in the present and to connect in with the past once you're a few years out.
Well, the sad truth is that the world is lot lonelier than it used to be before. As someone who doesn't care much about being social, I personally like the fact that I no longer need to depend on others to take pictures that I find to be interesting.
Personally I think our jungle - evoluted monkey brains are not capable of dealing with so many social connections, as we used to live in smaller groups, of 30 or so. So we just tune out the overwhelming information.
* rely on social media to try and satisfy their need for bonding with others
* just don't have as much free time as they did before, because they have to work harder/more jobs to stay afloat
I totally agree with your post, just wanted to say that it is my feeling that selfie sticks are on a "downward trajectory", so to speak, as I haven't recently seen as many people using them as 3-4 years ago. The same goes for the GoPro-like photos/videos.
I've been in Africa so long I have not seen a person do that for well over a year, and it struck me as seriously odd.
The occasional "I was here" picture is fine, but why even go to a gallery to just to prove that you were there? It's way beyond simple vanity.
I too uninstalled Facebook, Instagram is a little less obnoxious so I've left it, though from time to time I uninstall it completely for a while as a break period.
Overall I think ig is quite a bit better for me personally than fb.
Worse yet....facebook is a huge distraction and will prevent you from actually reaching your goals.
I've deleted my old facebook but I created a new one. I don't use the news feed anymore and instead visit a select few groups that actually benefit my life but those groups are mainly focused on making side income and the such.
Also worse yet is the amount of data that facebook is pulling in from all over the internet. Facebook has effectively created the largest non-governmental surveillance system on the web. That's a huge threat to your personal privacy. They've gone too far and need to be stopped.
I am happier now without Facebook and Instagram.
If you delete your account, doesn't it mean somebody else can register an account with the same name to impersonate you?
I've had my own domains since 1999. I used to think it was easy to set up a blog. When I was young I thought it was really fun to write basic HTML. I've been online for many years. But I've come to realize that a lot of things that I found easy are a bit too much for most people. In particular, paying something like $35 a year for a domain name, and maybe $5 a month for online hosting, is way, way, way beyond the commitment most people want to make.
So I wonder if there are ways this can be made simpler or cheaper?
I enjoy online conversation. And comments people post to my blog. I very much enjoy having full control over my own blog:
I'd like everyone to have the experience that I have. But we need to find a way to make it much easier, otherwise the walled gardens will still be the default even 25 years from now.
> I tended to post carefully constructed photos on Instagram about once a week, which seemed like a reasonable cadence, with a focus on my relationship, career and travels (I'd alternate them to give off the impression that I'm a balanced person). Like most users, I'd pay close attention to the number of likes and views I received
I'd say the problem is that public exposure is by itself stressful, no matter the platform.
For instance, most platforms provide a public popularity score. I imagine some people at least would spend less time fretting about the number of likes they get if they were the only ones who got to see it.
I go to a lot of art & music performances. Lately, and particularly for the last few events I’ve attended, the performer emphasized joining their (MailChimp-managed) mailing list, because they didn’t want to seem uncool by promoting Facebook.
I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but I strongly suspect the social graph that disrupts Facebook gets built on email, somehow. Something like MailChimp, but without the direct marketing/conventional newsletter expectation baggage and a focus on message consumers as well as producers.
The advantages of “push” style communication, flexibility in styling messages, and potential for advertising all seem to me like a revolution waiting to happen. The openness of email, combined with the fact that everyone has one (even millennials!) are icing.
I was surprised to find that every person who signed up wrote their email address.
So you may just might be right.
Granted, this is a rural area (West Virginia, US) and there's far less incessant use of smartphones and the like. So my experience might not apply to more urban places.
If you send them an email with your FB page in it, a certain % will follow then, because it's a way to get some more passive updates when they want.
EDIT: 30 years ago, everyone would have given you a street mailing address, even though some possibly had faxes or may have wanted a phone call or to be paged when you had updates.
I maintain an email networking group over at CTOLunches.com, and email is the only channel I allow. Several people have asked about Slack, but email is the tried & true async medium that won't be going away ever.
For a social network, I see it being a cross between a Google Group and a newsletter.
* List my profile somewhere with a sign up box to "subscribe to updates and conversation from Miles and his network."
* Every 3-6 weeks, I receive an email from the platform asking me what's been up with me, and I simply reply, which then gets sent to people who subscribed from updates from me.
* Calendar integration -- when I add an event to my calendar, I have the option of including it in my next update to my email network to let them know I'm doing it. (ex: I'm speaking next month at some conference)
* Community participation -- if anyone who subscribes to my email updates/network wants to email my network (ex: do you know anyone who...), I get an email saying my subscriber Bob wants to ask my network a connection, would you like to include it in your next email update to your network? If I respond yes, then it is also listed in my next email update to my network.
Something like that would be awesome.
If the garden fulfills your needs, the walls are not a problem.
You're not unlike the folks who propose society stinks and we're going to organize and have our own group with rules that don't wall us in. Those groups have never lasted long and fall apart due to people being people. It's not the rules, it's people being people, that make things good, or sucky.
Changing people is a fool's errand - start with yourself to realize the futility of the task if so inclined :)
Why are you paying $35 for domain names? Your site is a .com so it shouldn't be more than $10/year.
>> In particular, paying something like $35 a year for a domain name, and maybe $5 a month for online hosting, is way, way, way beyond the commitment most people want to make.
You can try it out if youd like with this invite code kris-ffdd9e150679
What we actually need is an application using a subscription based protocol.
We can't have one company have defacto control over pictures, texts, discussions.
I didn't quit Facebook and Instagram because I wanted to stop sharing. I got tired of being spied on. I got tired of the ads. I got tired of random people trying to sell me something. I would much rather people hosted their own photo feed which could be a literal exact clone of the Instagram photos. Host just that and let me subscribe to a standard feed. It should cost literally pennies a year to host your content.
People subscribe to your "feed" by "friending" you. When you see this friend request you set what they can see right there. And you'd be able to run a feed for a group, personal, business, whatever. It would let you publish pictures, events, and discussions. No one can ban you from the platform because it will be ubiquitous like email. You can even put in public/private keys and make it super secure.
This is what we need.
How do you host it?
How do you make it easy to use?
These are the problems we should tackle.
I was thinking a blockchain would be a convenient "free" host. It's just slower than I'd like but for posting events or photos I'd be willing to wait a few minutes.
Social media is a lot like every other popular idea that ends up being bullshit. It always ends up costing you time and money in the short-term, and of course some years often have to pass before you finally figure out it's bullshit. So, somewhat unfairly, I refer to that whole class of things as "rackets young people fall for." Like smoking. (Both.) Or drinking, or... weddings. Marriage itself (oh snap). Playing in rock bands. Bungee-jumping. Skiing? I'd better stop before I insult everyone. Get off my lawn. (Lawns also. Total racket. Fuck lawns.)
Not really sure about skiing, I guess snowboarding is more like that.
Geek culture is a big one right now, with Star Wars, Harry Potter and all that stuff is on the rage – to like it is cool, and it might be an indication.
Of course, not everybody does it for these reasons, but there are plenty of "nomadic" people who like it only because it gives some benefits of social approval.
On the other hand, can't materialism and approval-seeking be positive in some aspects? For example, materialism and keeping up with the Joneses' incentivizes people to continue working harder and getting better jobs, thus helping them stay the course to prosperity and keeping high-paying jobs, or motivating them to get better jobs.
I know the same argument can be made that materialism causes people to be over-spenders and end up in a whirlwind of debt, but for myself, I think I might have had more goals and been more motivated when I cared about those things.
[posts the picture instead on MSNBC]
LMAO ... she really doesn't seem to get it.
Leading one to wonder. If the friendships or whatever feelings these tools provide are placebo vs real. If something bad happens to you in the real world are the online friends going to help? Does support extend to seeing a number with a heart next to it. Does getting 1000 hearts replace the support of close friends when you experience loss?
It's been a while since I've had real friends on the internet. I can't say if that's "my life" or if that's "the internet has changed." But here are things from my past life with internet friends:
1. They helped me get healthier after doctors wrote me off for dead, including hand-packing pure medication without chemical additives typically found in store bought brands and mailing it to me as a Christmas present.
2. They helped me figure out how to raise and appropriately educate my special needs sons.
3. They exchanged Christmas presents with me.
4. They met me for lunch or made a day of it every couple of years when they were in the area.
5. They helped me start my first website.
6. They helped me attend two different conferences on the cheap, one in gifted education, the other in urban planning.
7. They helped me make it through the night without killing myself.
8. They helped me make it through my divorce under very difficult circumstances without killing myself.
(Yes, I also did things for them. I'm not listing it here out of respect for their privacy and brevity.)
Those are just the things that obviously come to mind off the top of my head without thinking too hard about it.
And then I was homeless for a few years and saw just how amazingly shitty people on the planet are capable of being. When I most needed some kind of support, the entire world just wanted to let me know I was a total fucking loser who didn't deserve any support whatsoever. In fact, an awful lot of people wanted to make sure they did all in their power to make my life worse while pretending they were good people or some nonsense.
So I just have no idea at this point if the world I knew somehow magically disappeared, is gone forever and cannot come back or just what. But I have, in fact, known real friends via internet, some of whom had a profound positive impact on my life though we never met in person nor even called each other on the phone.
Edit: To be fair, none of these were Instagram or Facebook friends. But they were internet friends.
Some of them, I never met at all. Some, I knew by phone as well. But these were all primarily online relationships.
icq / etc
blogs / rss
In my experience: it's allowed me to focus all of my emotional energy on the 5-8 actual close relationships that I have, rather than burning myself out living like some kind of small-time celebrity with an audience of hundreds of casual acquaintances that expect me to like posts and respond to messages at their beck and call.
One day, I just quit. Left everyone in the lurch, with no explanation. It was a huge turning point in my personal life. My mental health improved immediately - and all of a sudden, I had so much more time and emotional energy for the things in my life that I really, truly cared about.
I've kept in touch with a handful of people that I was close to. My new policy is, "if I need to hear from you, you'll know because you have my phone number". The rest of them are still there, arguing about clipless vs flat pedals, and chromoly vs carbon fiber, and everything else, as if I'd never left - or showed up in the first place.
More likely than not, they'll forget about you just as casually as they came into contact with you. Ask yourself if it would REALLY bother you to never hear from them again. In my case, it didn't; and I know for a fact that it really didn't bother them to go for long periods of time without hearing from me, too.
It's okay to let acquaintances be acquaintances. You owe them exactly as much as they owe you - in the case of these people, it's "pretty much nothing" - in the case of the people who are a major part of your actual life, it's "a hell of a lot".
The ones who asked "did you quit Facebook?" via good old fashioned text message (lol I'm being slightly silly here but only just) and actually stayed in touch, actually would mention events going on to make sure I knew I was invited...it was quite an experience.
One friend has gone above and beyond in being accessible and supportive following a divorce recently and helping me find a therapist, dropping by to talk in person etc.
Those are the relationships that will follow you to the grave and I'm thankful for it.
For the 5 people I care to keep in touch frequently, I have installed Signal on my smartphone and my PC and we chat very frequently (when we don't meet)
We got a couple sightings through it, although ultimately we found him four days later after someone spotted him and then saw one of our lost dog posters a couple of miles away and called us, so he wasn't found directly by it.
I even had people I only considered to be internet friends tell me how they spent time after work driving around looking for him, sometimes for a lot longer than would be reasonably expected.
So, I didn't really consider social media to be all that useful before I had the scariest thing in my life happen to me (so far at least), and then I discovered people online really can do more than just give a 'Like' or a 'Sad Face'.
Yes, i have heard of and been an online friend who helps people offline. Fund raisers, contact with nearby relatives when concerned, checking on people, plus the fact that this IS the real world and emotional support online is the same thing as ‘offline’. L If something bad happens online, your online friends can help there, too, but your ‘real world’ friends by definition can’t really.
I think that's the point they are making. That "casual" is a distraction from deeper relationships.
As a young person, I was able to count on online friends to give me a place to crash or a meal when I was hungry. As an adult, I'm not really sure that I could ask these things of my "real" friends.
With social media it’s reversed. You first friend someone and then maybe possibly build a relationship. All the activities you do in common with the vast majority of ‘friends’ is as mindless as possible (liking something or commenting but the comment rarely has any bearing on the actual individual whose post you’re commenting on).
“That’s the consequence of social media structures which encourage people to share using centralized databases, and everything they share is held by someone who is no friend of theirs who also runs the servers and collects the logs which contain all the information about who accesses what, the consequences of which is that we are creating systems of comprehensive surveillance in which a billion people are involved and those people’s lives are being lived under a kind of scrutiny which no secret police service is the 20th century could ever have aspired to achieve. And all of that data is being collected and sold by people whose goal it is to make a profit selling the ability to control human beings by knowing more about themselves than they know.”
— Eben Moglen
Because social media apps are designed to access the same neural pathways as addictive substances. Let me rephrase your question: "why can't you just have a moderate use of alcohol?" Sure, many people can (and note how that's not newsworthy), but try suggesting to an alcoholic to just drink a little less.
This is how I use Facebook. I basically only use it because it's a convenient messaging service; Hell will serve chilled water before my non-tech friends and family join Yet Another Messaging Service™, so I meet them where they already are.
Plus, for better or worse, I rather like the Facebook Messenger interface and app. It's not perfect, but it's nice looking and consistent across platforms. If it weren't for most people I know being on Facebook and not everybody having Apple devices, I'd probably use LINE or stick to iMessage.
I still remember times before Facebook came to dominate social media. It was difficult to keep tabs on friends, and the barrier was higher to keeping in touch with someone you met casually in person, as there are a lot of people who are less willing to share phone numbers with people they just met - there is something intensely personal about phone numbers or similar to many people, which still holds today. I think many people under appreciate this, and the controls for managing the communication relationship social media gives you (or at least Facebook - Twitter's are garbage).
I use social media casually today - just Facebook and rarely Instagram, and post maybe once a day or every other day. I am in some FB group chats, all which could be text messages, but text messages aren't as robust of a medium (for example, location sharing in a group or easy searching of pictures people want to use to respond with).
What I noticed with facebook is that it encouraged a lot of vapid relationships. Not real. And it really discouraged getting to know someone.
And here's a difference in a texting once a month instead of seeing pictures on fb and messaging.
We have to tell each other what happened to us.
Now that may seem simple, but there's a lot that unpacks in that. Jokes happen and you get more a sense of what happened than being shown. You are forced to see the events through your friends eyes. You are automatically filled in on the parts that are important to them, and not the parts that appear most appealing.
I do think the barrier for keeping in touch should be high. You can't reasonable have a good friendship with a lot of people. So it forces you to pick and choose where you are going to devote your emotional time and energy. That's because relationships take work. Knowing someone and what they do isn't a relationship. So someone you have met once and never really talk to is like the relationship you have with a celebrity. It isn't real, but facebook makes it feel that way. I'm not saying all relationships have to be the same as those of a best friend, but I think social media encourages a type of relationship that is more destructive than beneficial. There's also a lot more, but this is already long.
As for instant messaging vs text? Who said I don't use instant messaging? I just don't use Facebook. I do use Signal, WhatsApp, GChat, etc. Friends never have a hard time getting ahold of me. I'm still connected, just not with relationships I don't consider "real".
I guess. Thing is that everyone has different preferred communication mediums. I've had several old friends with whom I reconnected with on Facebook. When they dropped off this, they dropped out of my life again. One tried texting with but for me, personally, texting is the least pleasant or personal medium possible, good for coordinating appointments and nothing else.
There are many methods. I actually think what a given person finds as the best contact method varies based on the person's experience and their personal communication style. I like voice-calls and fb book chat best to stay in contact with someone. My point is that writing off any contact method is going write off some people, including some IRL friends as well some potential contacts.
I don't know if there's a solution. Some people are also going to just really dislike a given medium also so the proliferation of communication channels in ways seems to produce stratified groups no matter what one does.
I don't buy it.
Sadly, part of the content issue is Facebook shooting itself in the foot because they refuse to show a simple chronological list of what people have been up to. They literally already have lots of content that would be interesting and they refuse to show it, instead opting for these weird algorithmic “views” that won’t even stay consistent between the time I follow a link and go back to the previous page. No wonder I quickly lose what little interest I had.
I would love if social networks were banned from search results too. I am tired of Googling things on “the Internet” and finding lots of results that are essentially “we showed this entire page to Google but all you get is a log-in page”. If your site is displayed in search results, you should be required to have at least a paragraph or two “always on” so that I see something when I click the link, instead of absolutely no content and a log-in/create-account page. If you want to hide 100% of your content, make your own damned search engine.
For that reason, Instagram is actually a happy place for me. Whenever I need a little inspirational pick me up, I fire up the app and look through pictures of beautiful guitars, chess sets, planes etc. as well as the occasional picture of friends going about their lives and I feel happy.
Now if only I could reduce the number of ads in the feed... ;)
Avoiding celebrities/influencers/boring friends is key.
If you want more motivation to quit, track the amount of time you spend on social media sites. After you're done scrolling through the algorithmic feeds, write down what you've learned and compare it to what you would have learned if you read a high quality book on the same subject or learned/improved a skill.
My son is seven, and he's just becoming comfortable enough with reading to enjoy reading for hours at a time. It's such a pleasure to witness this stage of development for him. I also enjoy sharing with him the tech insiders' view of devices. It's really reassuring to him to know that most knowledgeable people are struggling with how to manage the appeal of connected devices, and that it's not just some weakness on his part.
For some people who make it big that way it works out but most people get into that endless cycle of chasing likes.
Happens to me even on HN...
They deliberately put the entire focus on the photo and the photographer and not on the comments/likes/share, etc.
It's an example of deliberate product design that ecschews the trapping of more popular social media. I know there's a couple more examples that I came across recently but I can't think of them at the moment (I think SnapChat also gets some credit here to some extent).
Insta and FB have become Personal PR outlets where you make content for social validation.
On HN, you communicate, and karma can be a proxy for social validation, but it's to help you calibrate for communicating on the platform.
Karma serves the greater community by helping you understand what the community values, whereas likes serve to validate your own brand.
I think the feedback loops are similar but subtly different.
One thing I noticed here, and often elsewhere, is the more interesting conversations often end up net karma, like losses.
Well, my current theory on that is resonance vs understanding.
Likes, karma, and similar features are all about resonance. Awww, look at the baby, kitten, meme.
Useless, but for a warm fuzzy.
Understanding is harder. Where we differ and speak frankly, people often do not know how to take our words.
Intent via text is a mess!
I have come by the habit of including language to help. Like,"that was thought provoking" or, "it is OK, I just had no idea."
For me, there is almost nothing others can write that would impact me. I mean in a hurtful way. We all have options,but the number one goto seems to be righteous indignation. Honor got bent, or something like that. How dare they! You know the drill.
The moment one realizes there are more options is the moment when likes, and other tools do not matter so much. Understanding, seeking differences in perspective, our take on things can be celebrated, learned from.
One gets a whole lot more secure too.
Humor, asking questions, ignoring ugly bits to focus on interesting ones... all good options.
Chase the differences!
Understanding others can be what these social media tools are great for. That is work at first. Then, it is ordinary.
Then it is fun. Stimulating.
We can get many personal and professional benefits too.
I feel like this should be explored and taught as basic education. I got it via a close group of people with similar desires to understand others. We collaborated on these kinds of problems over about a decade. I have lists of things we people do.
I have lists of options.
I have also tried them. Wait for similar scenario, take a different oath, get a very different outcome. Manage my end of a conversation away from bad, toward good. It is nearly always possible to do.
Agency is a thing. The hardest part of all that is understanding we are in charge of our conversations. Our end of things.
They only go bad when we allow that. We have agency. It is not necessary to require others coddle us.
But, understanding all that is just not the norm. The tools center on ways to avoid doing it too. Block, downvote, etc... I rarely do either, preferring to upvote, or nothing. Just use the conversation to communicate all that.
Frank speech is not always nice, but it is nearly always high value. We want the value, but what we get are likes and other shallow trinkets.
Anyway, cultivating agency in conversation, understanding, brings security. With that, one does not use likes as any meaningful measure of worth, etc...
These realizations fixed social media for me. Non issue today.
I tend to get good value out of it when I use it. No worries about all the shallow crap.
What do I understand that I did not before? Others know things, have had valuable life experiences, can offer a thought provoking take on things...
Getting at that makes all the sense in the world.
Why are we not making tools to those ends?
If you are like me you might be happy to know that there are other people who don't care about social media (being on it or off it or anything about it).
Reading volumes of (unjustified) negativity everyday has to affect your mind in someway.
maybe its more of an instagram problem, then facebook now?. i think facebook is just dieing off in general, there seems to be lower activity.
If anything I feel like facebook helps me realize people aren't doing epic things everyday, otherwise there would be way more activity going on on the site.
or reddit might be my real time waster and no one talks about it hah
Sometimes I shudder to think of a future where websites would render some server-generated image version of their website (think Flash) so that users couldn't possibly dare to change the experience of their website from the corporate-approved one.
And with the app comes the tracking and stealing of personal information, often using more or less dark patterns to trick the user.
From what I understand, an app that has no rights to pictures, contacts and location and so on, can still get info about the WIFI and put together a pretty good picture of your movements.
On both iOS and Android, an app can access connected wifi even with location disabled.
I don't have a citation for this, but it's pretty clear that they do this to make automation harder.
We keep track of each other via Facebook. We organized this event, and every other of these events (which are recurring) via Facebook. Tomorrow morning, we will comment on and share each other's photos of the event via Facebook.
I get that some people don't like the service, and that's fine. I personally find it incredibly useful.
She wants to go from the extreme of over-participating to the extreme of not participating at all. Somewhere in the middle is a healthy balance that she isn’t considering.
As humans, we have the ability to understand and improve on our failings. First you have to understand that in fact you allow yourself to reach a state of excess and then understand why.
If you aren’t able to approach the true issue then you will just repeat the same cycle the next time something social shows potential for excess consumption.
I suspect that we are going to see this type of movement more and more. It’s more signaling. It says, I don’t need to have social media to have a fulfilling life. My life is fulfilling. See pictures of me in [popular vacation spot]. See pictures of me having casual fun. But again, it’s not solving the true problem. If you needed the affirmation from random strangers, that won’t change.
All these "movements" that maybe could be seen as trends always become exagerated and annoying after a while.
But, I hope it doesn't happen too soon in this case.
The other day I decided to install Instagram on my phone, only to be unable to find a valid download link on the website, there was only a Google play URL that didn't work because I don't have Google play installed.
Then, I created a Facebook account but it asked for my phone number, which I'm not willing to give them, so they just blocked the account, but provided some really creepy ways to 'authenticate myself': uploading a photo of my face, or my government issued ID card.
So, in the end, fb and instagram don't want me to use them.
For December, I decided to take the month of social media. It's day 2 and I've already opened Facebook out of habit 4 times. It's just so deeply ingrained in my habits.
I'm thinking of giving up video games in January and meat in February. I don't think either of those will be as difficult.
This is a month experiment, not a permanent life change. At least, so far that's all it is.
In the past - many groups like clans on games had their own forum with their own members. With topics like "Humour", "Game X", "Game Y", "Introductions", ...
Nowadays that seems to be mostly gone - though more replaced by Discord than Reddit.
However, niches just moved to Reddit and I stayed behind :)
I miss those times somewhat.
The stories stuff let’s me tap to move through. Overall, quite pleased.
This was actually a nice, user-friendly addition for once. But it's pretty much a cure for a disease that they invented themselves; the removal of the strictly chronological feed.
So the headline stood out to me as hyperbolic in the sense that most people know that sugar is bad for you but I'm not worried for that industry. Of course I could just be a minority and most people don't know that quitting would make them happier in the long run.
Where baby steps according to her is removing Facebook and Instagram apps off the phone, and logging out on the web “without fully disabling or deleting them”).
Same for twitter - despite the fact I'm now slowly move into joining some weekly emails about the stuff I'm intersted in I still use twitter as a my main source of news about front-end tooling / programming / entrepreneur / design stuff.
Knowing that I have no "obligation" to do FB is liberating and empowering. That said, I still check HN ;)
The problem in that sense is that people do not know other system exists. Not only "casual people" but technician do not know them. Often I find programmers (not code monkeys, not stupid people, not "ignorant" one) that do not understand how my Emacs works, for them seems magic. Many when I say that I have RSS via mail, notes from mobile (BlitzNote) via mail, projects&c via mail they think it's impossible to handle such volume of messages, when they see a modern (ancient) MUA the seems child looking at some incredible machines.
IMO the sole solution came from a state-backed action that start to limit actual IT trends for the sake of democracy, competition and national safety and empower universities and schools enough to teach basic IT concept not in term of ridiculous "coding courses" but in terms of IT freedom and dangers like democracy vs dictatorship in politics.
also rules out usecases for people who aren't actually "settled" and have to follow social norms in some areas- actually expecting a girl to contact me via phone or email before the first date, i'd be living in a fantasy land. it just won't happen
Also IMO it's a lesson I give for free to my contacts because I explain why I do not use such services.
Yes, I have occasionally missed out on things as I don't use Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.
I find that instant messaging enables and promotes poor organisational skills in colleagues. Rather than processing tasks in a timely and professional manner, they have a safety net of being able to send a group message at 23:30 the night before a meeting the next day. I also find that instead of a well planned, concise email, these people will spam colleagues with a string of brain-fart messages until, 60 minutes later, a consensus is reached.
Funnily enough, when there is no option for this, people never have a problem contacting me in a professional way.