Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
I quit Instagram and Facebook and it made me happier (cnbc.com)
574 points by prostoalex 80 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 312 comments

I deleted Instagram a few months ago and I’ve not missed it once. The people who post more take up most of my bandwidth and those people I sincerely do not care about but due to social etiquitte have to follow. As I grow older I find that I really don’t care about maintaining superficial relationships with acquaintances, many of whom I might not see ever.

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.

I’m also tired of the “global” culture. Reddit is a terrible offender of this. The same opinions always prevail, and dissenting ideas are pushed out of sight. This applies to politics, religion, humor, pop culture, everything. It rewards conformity and it’s so boring. Smaller subs are usually lots better, simply because there are fewer people there to perform their predicatable voting.

I have an odd image that I think provides a good mental model of this. Bear with me...


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.

For the most part, social media doesn't change people's opinions or beliefs. The beat of individual metronomes is not changed, instead social media acts as a filter that only lets through the loudest views, where loudness is a function of how many people hold a given view, and how strongly they feel about it.

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.

I wish I shared your optimism about the 'fence-sitters'. Unfortunately I've seen first hand how people in my surroundings ended up essentially parroting those 'loud' views and radicalizing before my eyes (in various ways).

It's true that this isn't the case for everyone, but unfortunately the loud voices often have a disproportionate effect on reality.

> For the most part, social media doesn't change people's opinions or beliefs.

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.

Very cool demonstration!

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.

Thank you for sharing this demo (and to the GP for the video with the metronomes). Very interesting; very cool.

What field of study is this?

I expect it's covered in several areas but the field of opinion dynamics often investigates these sorts of situations.

This was such a good demo!

That demo is just so neat!

That was an awesome demo.

I think that's the perfect image actually, and it also can explain how all sorts of groups can "conspire" without ever having to formulate or agree to it. And I mean that very broadly, from super evil to very benign or even awesome.

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.]

I really enjoyed reading that, even if I don't think I fully understand yet.

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?

> What exactly is the problem with a monoculture? Loss of individuality?

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 :)

Even Reddit subs for niche interests can suck now, precisely because of Instagram culture. I follow some subs for certain outdoor hobbies, and while in the past we would discuss gear or the specifics of various routes, now all most people want to do is post selfies in impressive locations. Reddit has killed off many of the old forum websites, so it is not as if one can just go back to those to get substantive conversation. Indeed, substantive conversation seems to be dying out overall, because just posting selfies gets one more social appreciation.

While it's not really a "niche" interest, the travel subreddit is a particularly prime example of this. ~6-7 years ago, I remember that subreddit had a substantive amount of text posts that were mostly about suggesting trip itineraries, destinations, travel tips, travel stories, etc. Now, I just opened it up and every single one of the top 20 posts is an Instagram-style photo post.

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.

Check out my company's travel forum for text content http://www.city-data.com/forum/ but if I'm to be honest, the most travel content is on TripAdvisor forums. Reddit doesn't compare here, it's basically random, not curated, Instagram travel photos.

FWIW, the /r/travel rules explicitly ban "clickbait, spam, memes, ads, brochures, surveys, vlogs, blogs or other self-promotion". So I can't post a link to my travel blog, even if it happens to have in-depth content that I think others would find interesting, but I can post visually arresting photos.

Those rules don't ban text posts, which is what I was talking about. Having meaningful discussions about travel without promoting a travel blog or ogling over a photoshopped picture from a designated "instagram photo spot" is possible, and used to be commonplace on r/travel, but just isn't anymore.

>I really wish there was a good solution to this, or at least a place to go to avoid the "instagram culture".

4chan travel board /trv/ has very little instagram-like content - it has other issues though.

Please let me know if you have any ideas for reversing this.

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.

This is just an idea but ...

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.

The problem with reddit is putting together a deep thoughtful piece is worthless because it will be yesterday's news and confined to obscurity in a matter of hours. This didn't happen on forums where the topic got bumped every time there was a reply.

I miss old school forums. I've been visiting my old haunts and they're all deserted now. Reddit has eaten them all and the internet has become poorer as a result

It’s seems like that issue could be solved by tweaking the ranking algorithm to prefer recent comments/activity.

On another mid size sub we decided to take a hard line: Text posts only, automod flags on image links, banning people who break the rules.

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.

Let's ask Reddit to allow moderators to manually change the algorithm and apply different rules for jokes/ images/ self. i.e. in order to rank, a joke would need 5x as many up votes than an original content/ discussion/ post.

Making the barrier to post low-quality content slightly higher will always help. For instance banning direct link posts and only allowing self posts.

Limit the number of subscribers to 50K or so. Only let new ones in when old ones churn. Remove the ability to post images.

Don't allow photos or video.

No photos, no video, no memes.

I've experienced the same things with the same communities. The forums for the outdoor/backpacking community seem to have seen a dramatic slow down in the last few years (I run a used backpacking gear 'for sale' post aggregator and have seen a decline in # of posts over the years - with reddit/subreddits being the only venue that's growing) and the subreddits seem to be 'growing' but their post quality (obviously, this is my opinion and it's not necessarily shared with everyone involved) is suffering greatly.

Yeah, there's a reason HN is text only. The medium dictates the message. If a medium has images, then that medium becomes dominated by images because images are much more captivating that text.

I think we're seeing a dramatic slowdown in the people actually participating as well. I'm seeing club participation down for a lot of activities.

I've noticed this as well. Even activities which are widely popular eg, Football, American Football are apparently struggling. The niche sport that I do isn't doing too badly, but the clubs aren't attracting new members and many of the new participants aren't staying in the sport long term.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. We have under-appreciated the costs of hyper-connectivity.

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).

I've also been bothered lately by the tendency for people to look for/latch on to the first easy answer they find online

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

space (not cosmos, just open gaps) is the future then

These social media platforms can't win (not that they should...). Either their AI is so tailored to feeding you exactly what you want to see, giving you a myopic view of the world --- or, you get fed the same memes and articles that everyone sees, leading to "mono-culture" and global conformity. Is there a happy middle ground?

Yes. A non-algorithmic feed.

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.

One weird problem that's similar to this is that Quora is starting to get a lot of answers from India and Pakistan about relationship questions. So I'm reading these Quora questions and people are talking about their horrible arranged marriages in Pakistan or wherever. Sure, there are people who speak English outside of the U.S, but they don't have to show up in my feed.

I've noticed that as well, not about arranged marriages specifically but a ton of of ultra naive questions about relationships like, "Why do guys change their mind about a girl that they liked?", and "How do I know a girl is right for me?" (sic).

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 used to find Quora interesting but it just has so much of this low-quality spam on it now.

I am an Indian and I concur. I honestly don't remember the last time I visited Quora since then.

right?!?! I found quora quite interested. But latetly seems like spammers kinda gamed the system. I same same people answering questions. Most of the answers and questions are probably fake / oversexualised. Stopped visting that site

When you guys say "global" culture, what do you mean?

I think “monoculture” might be a less loaded term for what others are trying to communicate.

"Borgsongs" is what I've started calling it. I recall the term from STTNG for the omnipresent chatter experienced by members of the Borg collective.

This is really true -- on Reddit if you post a dissenting opinion, you're usually downvoted.

It’s funny. I know the front-facing camera followed demand and was at least partially meant for things like FaceTime and taking photos with friends. But it also fed back into and catalyzed the normalization and popularization of selfies and vanity.

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.

I distinctively remember a picture of a Chinese lady using a contraption to use a camera to take pictures of herself in some touristic site. This was captioned "the loneliest tourist in the world". This picture was quite famous a few years ago. Nowadays that kind of contraption is so common place that no one thinks twice upon seeing it.

I totally forgot about this. How quickly norms change.

I remember that too. She was at Angkor Wat.

This is silly. Before selfies you just had to ask someone else to photograph you, either a friend or a stranger, or carry a tripod, or have n-1 people in the photo. Stealing a camera that someone asked to be photographed with is an old trope of travel literature. Vanity was not invented 10 years ago

> Stealing a camera that someone asked to be photographed with is an old trope of travel literature.

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).

It certainly wasn't, but it also was not normalised to the extent it is today.

People laughed at selfies only 5 years ago, thinking it was a bit self-interested, now it's a normal part of the culture.

I took a college course about photographic culture in ~2008, wherin we read 150 years of essays complaining about how vain everyone was having their picture taken all the time, how they all took the same uncreative tourist photos, how sitting through people’s slideshows from their trips was a bore, how smiling at cameras is contrived and artificial, how photography wasn’t real art and didn’t require any skill, how the availability of cheap photographs was degrading the concept of a portrait, etc. etc.

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.

IIRC, someone built a "camera" that searched for photos that had been taken from that location & direction already, returning the best existing approximation instead of actually taking yet another picture.

I'm not saying its new. I'm saying its more normalised than it was.

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.

Your timeline is definitely off. Selfies were absolutely part of the cultural norm 5 years ago. I don't know when they normalized, but it was definitely between 2009 and 2011, as smartphones proliferated to become something most people had.

I suspected it might be, the years are becoming a bit muddled together in my mind when it comes to culture.

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?

People still laugh at selfies. Narcissism and attention-seeking has never been normal behavior.

If somebody had a hundred pictures of themselves before the cellphone camera, you would have thought they were insane - especially if they thought you were interested in looking at them. I'm not sure my parents took more than a few hundred pictures of me the entire time I was growing up.

You've been Overton'd, and you think that something that was sold to you is something that is spontaneous or natural.

It's because photos cost virtually nothing these days, compared to the film photography of your childhood.

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 things you are interested in is, for me, fine. It's easy to take photos and we can all snap those flowers, beers, sights etc. that we like.

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

This assumes the photos of yourself are for you.

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.

Yeah, nowadays it’s incredibly common to see someone post something with a caption like “My friends are cooler than yours.”. I’m not sure what part of that is funny, friendly, or mildly appropriate for a social website. It is off-putting and makes me dislike the person who says it.

Portraits have always been one of the most common subjects in art. In the Renaissance, many were commissioned by the subject(s). Technology has simply made it easier.

Selfies are not art, but self-portraits are also not one of the most common subjects in art. Specializing in self-portraits made you strange and interesting, like a Cindy Sherman, and definitely made you look self-obsessed, which played into the interpretation.

Do you distinguish paying an artist to paint your portrait from a self-portrait? Both are selfies in my mind.

They're about as different as taking a horse-drawn wagon to the next town over versus riding there yourself on a racing motorbike.

Sure. Either way it's the same motivation. Technology didn't give us the desire to have a picture of ourselves.

> Selfies are not art ... clearly you've never seen my selfies.

> 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.

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.

Why is the world lonelier than before when we have so many more means to connect with one another nowadays?

Because of the New York effect. The personal information density is so high that we tune it out automatically as not to be overwhelmed. Outside privacy cannot be maintained so we strengthen the inner one, by not paying attention to other humans. Go to New York and you'll bump into people every 5 steps you'll take, but you'll just ignore them and they will ignore you. There will be no meaningful relationship there, others may be furniture, just as well. So we get more lonely as we get more connected.

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.

My completely unscientific take is that its an unholy combination of deteriorating worker protections + social media addictions. So even though there are more avenues to connect with each other most people:

* 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

> Yet, we aren’t that far removed in time from selfie sticks being a joke.

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 was recently at a place with baby elephants, and it was staggering to watch hordes of young white women turn their backs on the elephants to take selfies.

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.

I find it odd too. I was in a crowded art gallery recently and grew increasingly angry at the number of people who were either taking selfies next to the paintings or standing as close as possible to get pictures of the paintings... without actually looking at the paintings directly at all.

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.

It seems like that type of photo is a requirement on some dating apps.

Part of that is volume. The value of a given recording of your life to you drops with the quantity of recordings.

To your second point, I also experience this. Being completely serious, I use IG to just follow cute animal accounts, mostly birds and pigs. Every now and then some promiscuity gets included in my feed. If I dare click on one of those pictures, my feed changes and starts showing me every other wannabe model or pornstar on the app. I just want to see cute birds, not humans.

On pinterest, I have something similar, except that I'm mostly following cooking things and some 3d art here and there, and then every few weeks they sneek in some bible verses and anti-abortion propaganda. I'm sure some algo somewhere is binning me with some of those people based on me looking at dumpling recipes, but jeez.

Oh here comes my YouTube anxiety. They should really have this guilty pleasure button that doesn't count as your historical interests.

It's so frustrating, because the only reason I click photos like that is find the menu that lets me click "hide photos like this." Lately, my entire Instagram experience has been look at my feed, see four new photos, look at explore, see mostly soft porn, click hide on few, see that it did nothing, give up, don't look at Instagram again. Facebook has completely ruined Instagram and I've basically written it off at this point.

I like instagram because it doesn't force me to look at the public feed. I only look at posts from people I follow and I only follow people I actually know + a few podcasters I really like.

Imgur front page policy is no selfies and no NSFW posts, which results in lots of comics, animals and silly gifs. Might have some of what you're looking for?

Instagram has a feature to mute people so you never see their posts, and it doesn't unfollow them. It's like a soft-block. I do it sometimes for stories and other times for all posts, then if I feel like I should, every few weeks or something I like some of their recent pictures randomly. I mostly just don't bother though.

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.

It's called muting. It's one of many features that IG has available which I think makes it healthier than other sm platforms (others include: stories vanish, so you don't need to be a perfectionist and you get to see mundane details of other people's lives rather than just marriages, extravagant voyages, etc; "all caught up" interrupts infinite scroll; comment threads are by default mostly hidden, so it takes a lot of work to even see any arguments, etc)

Overall I think ig is quite a bit better for me personally than fb.

Completely agree. Most of the people on my facebook are just old coworkers. None of these people have reached out to me through messenger so I would say facebook is a waste of time.

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.

When I used Instagram the search tab did a really great job of showing me great architectural and historical photos, but if I looked at the page too often, it just turned into hot women and dumb memes. I'm guessing that if it runs out of interesting content it just shows you popular content.

I am happier now without Facebook and Instagram.

> As I grow older I find that I really don’t care about maintaining superficial relationships with acquaintances


> I deleted...

If you delete your account, doesn't it mean somebody else can register an account with the same name to impersonate you?

Can't they do that anyway? I mean there's more than one John Smith in the world, there's nothing preventing all of them from having an account. What normally prevents impersonation is people checking if you have the same set of friends.

You can't complain to Facebook about impostor account if you aren't registered already. And deleting you profile won't delete you shadow profile that FB collects on everyone, so it is kinda pointless action anyway.

Social etiquette makes you follow people? Ha! Not laughing at you, but the perception of insta etiquette. Its a tool to socialize. People i want to follow, i follow. Noone is entitled to my time, just as i am not entitled to anyone's time

It’s a tool to socialize and socializing is complex.

All of us who have engineering talent should think about what we can do to make it easier for people to set up their own presence on an international online network such as the Internet. If that means rethinking some of the essentials of IP, TCP, DNS, HTTP or HTML then we should do it, if it makes it easier for people to get away from the walled gardens.

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: http://www.smashcompany.com/

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.

Is the problem here really about closed platforms? I don't think problems such as "spending too much time on validation" would be fixed if the author published photos on a personal blog instead of facebook/instagram. For example:

> 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.

Public exposure is stressful but itself; but surely the platform can make choices that increase or decrease that stress.

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.

But people would still be judging you. All the time. Even when you're sleeping.

I think this is valid and needed but I often wonder if we over-focus on the open web as the alternative over the other biggest widespread open technology in the world: email.

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 just hosted a small house concert last night for about 20 people; the age range was 18-50, I reckon. I put out a sheet of paper with spaces for names & contact info, for folks who wanted to be notified for future shows, and intentionally left the contact method open -- I figured if they wanted a group text, or a FB msg, I could do that.

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.

I have no idea how I'd give you my 'facebook address' - you'd look me up, but it might be private, or you might find the other one of me with my same name, or... I dunno. Problems.

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.

It seems pretty likely that the first person who signed up wrote their email address, and everyone else saw it and assumed that space was for email addresses.

Well what this looks like is Google Groups, or a startup like groups.io.

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.

Has it occurred to you that walled gardens are not a problem, but a solution, for most people?

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 :)

> paying something like $35 a year for a domain name

Why are you paying $35 for domain names? Your site is a .com so it shouldn't be more than $10/year.

As a customer of Network Solutions, I can answer this: without persistent legal threats and follow-through, it's impossible to transfer a domain out to a cheaper provider. The transfer form doesn't work. Emailing doesn't work. Calling doesn't work. Ultimately, it's just not worth it to bother.

This may include the cost of inexpensive hosting.

Probably not, given that hosting was itemized separately.

>> 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.

IIRC this is pretty much the mission of glitch.com - democratizing web presence and giving the power to create back to regular people.

I had a similar feeling so I built filigree.app. Im planning on shutting it down soon, but it might be reborn more focused on small blogs.

You can try it out if youd like with this invite code kris-ffdd9e150679

is internet presence even important ? old school boards were peak IMO

I also maintain my own blog. A $10 a month VM on Digital Ocean buys me a server. I have managed to solve the chat problem as well. I have A Synapse Matrix.org server for chat. It's perfect end to end encryption. It's a pain to get people to actually use it but once they do it's actually really reliable and has never failed me once since I've started running it. I use it with my SO and I know that what we say to each other can never ever be spied on by a third party including the pictures and videos we send to each other over the server. The clients on Android, iOS, OS X, and Windows are all actually very good. I use them all. On top of this I run a blog where I wrote the source code myself from the ground up. Framework and all. No normal person is gonna do that.

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.

She is still doing a lot of approval-seeking in this very article, so I'm not sure how to handicap her odds of success at staying off Instagram for example, but I wish her luck.

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.)

I agree that throughout the article, she continues to signal in a way that one would signal on IG or FB. It’s offputting because she seems to miss the point of why social media can be unhealthy.

I'm afraid I'm bad at reading between the lines -- what sort of signaling is she doing in the article?

She is signaling her virtue by leaving those platforms, just like social media promoters signal their own virtue in other ways (diet, exercise, food pictures, stories about how awesome and relaxing they are at child care, etc) on those platforms.

Yeah, hobbies are totally “rackets young people fall for”. LOL quite the controversial statements you are making there!

A lot of hobbies are very hip and approval-seeking indeed.

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.

Yeah, that argument can be made, I see what you mean. Kind of like the traveling just to post a bunch of flashy pictures on Instagram thing. Even when that is the case, I think a lot of those people who do outdoorsy stuff partially for the pictures, geek stuff, etc. do receive some pleasure from the hobby or activity itself and so it's not all just for "approval-seeking" or showing off on social media.

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.

Is working harder and getting a better paying job a worthwhile end in and of itself?

That's the million dollar question.

Nothing wrong with seeking approval in general.

You had me until skiing. Skiing is awesome.

It really is, but as someone who started skiing when I was 3-4 years old and am now closing in on 30 and am not in excellent cardio shape... wow, skiing is tough. I had no idea it would be so much harder at 25 (years ago) than it was at 16.

Admittedly I hate it more because I suck at it!

> "I still got a few classic Insta-worthy photos on a recent trip to Greece, but didn't post them."

[posts the picture instead on MSNBC]

LMAO ... she really doesn't seem to get it.

I quit those tools too and realized the number of real relationships I had was dramatically lower than I would have guessed.

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?

Relations are all about spending time with someone. The problem with online friends is that the time might be unproportional, you might spend hours with someone's content and feel very involved, meanwhile they don't even look at yours. Facebook, Twitter, et. al. communities is best for the popular people, and way more "efficient" then the real world. The only problem is that they can't share their private issues, that's what you need real friends for.

But don't forget the cases where you have a problem and no one it meatspace can help, but an Internet forum can. This is common for social/psychological problems.

Interesting point. Works better in anonymity in my opinion

If something bad happens to you in the real world are the online friends going to help?

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.

Are those really "internet friends" though? Sounds like you just met them on the internet and then became friends (without any qualifiers) considering you have met them IRL on a number of occasions.

People I see once every two years would not be friends without the internet.

Some of them, I never met at all. Some, I knew by phone as well. But these were all primarily online relationships.

Question: did you make these friends using the old-school text-mostly tools of the internets? Pre-good quality camera phones.

eg: livejournal irc icq / etc blogs / rss

Primarily email lists and forums, plus email and private messages once we were friends.

I found this to be the case as well.

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.

I feel like I have fallen in to this trap. I have become fairly well known on an IM platform just by creating/running a lot of group chats and I get loads of people PMing me wanting to chat so I end up having hundreds of small conversations with people I don't know rather than spending a lot of time with a few people I care about. But I also don't want to seem rude and ignore everyone.

I was like you, once. I helped run a hobbyist group on Facebook with ~15,000 members. I made myself as available to everyone as possible, frequently ignoring my wife actual friends to help random strangers over Messenger. Hours and hours and hours of my life burnt, wasted, gone. All for the sake of "helping grow the sport".

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".

Similar experience. Not only did I realize how much we've come to rely on these sites lately to "stay in touch", I also realized who the people were that actually wanted to.

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.

I'm curious, when you with FB, did YOU reach out to everyone you cared about? Else it seems a bit hypocritical.

Quite frequently, and often times at great emotional cost that isn't getting discussed in any detail here.

To (mis) quote TheMinimalists [1] they frequently mention that most relationships are born out of proximity and/or convenience. Facebook, with (many times) meaningless word exchange (I can't call these discussions) trick us into thinking them as friendships. This is the convenience part, combined with Facebook nomenclature ("Friends") also helps to that direction. I quit FB approx 2 years ago and Instagram 1 year ago. I don't miss any of the 250 'friends'.

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)

[1]: https://www.theminimalists.com/values/

-having grown up (and going to first 6 grades of school) in a small village with very tight community. -going thru 5 years of boarding school with very strong alumni traditions (kind of sect actually) -6 years of going to college and living on campus of a large University -living in a foreign country with very tight immigrant community of 'my country people' for the past 8 years I can say that yes, unfortunately and surprisingly, friendships and relationships are born out of and maintained mostly thanks to proximity and necessity.

We lost our dog a little over a year ago and I posted about him going missing online along with the most recent video of him I had taken. That post ended up getting reshared 8,000 times, the video got 215,000 views, and I was getting contacted by random people in the region constantly about how they were keeping an eye out looking for my dog, or sharing any info they thought they might have (there was some dogs found nearby that looked similar but weren't him, for example).

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, when I’ve left social media it’s isolated me from people. But that makes sense, as I hadn’t seen them lately. What do you mean by ‘real’? Just about any relationship withers when you stop being in regular contact. Since you quit social media, but wish for your friends from there to contact you, do they have a comfortable way to do it? Leaving a phone or email isn’t the same since the importance or priority level of an e-mail or phone call is different than the casual contact of social media.

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.

> Leaving a phone or email isn’t the same since the importance or priority level of an e-mail or phone call is different than the casual contact of social media.

I think that's the point they are making. That "casual" is a distraction from deeper relationships.

The problem I see is that the “deeper” relationships have something of a friction problem. People feel neglected until they have a serious issue.

Ironically, I kind of experienced this in reverse. I grew up in a very isolated place, and many of my first close friends were from the internet. Someone I knew from IRC, whose name I don't know to this day, gave me my first computer monitor. I lived with another person I met on IRC for a while, rent free.

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.

I’d argue IRC was very different from today’s social media. If you wanted to build a friendship, you’d normally spend hours and days chatting with individuals before you’d consider them a friend of any sort.

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).

You can ask all the same questions of meatspace associates, and get just as scary answers. Loneliness and abandonment existed before the Internet.

In some ways, I've found it worse now. Everyone's too damn obsessed with their phones. It's hard to get people to talk and form a meaningful relationship when they're sitting burried in Facebook or Reddit. So even quitting Facebook hasn't really helped as much as I hoped it would, except it means I can pretend they're not tracking my every move easier.

The way I use it it keeps channels open. But I'll check it once every few months really. Don't feel the need to quit because I'm not addicted

By definition, you need someone to be physically with you for real support. There's no such thing as "remote support".

You can absolutely provide emotional support "remotely". Do you think that's not the case?

I have a feeling he was trying to touch upon the arm chair psychology involving mirror neurons. ..or maybe just trying to say it's more effective in person. But that seems self evident.

Mirror neurons (on which the science is suspect) don't require physical touch.

But sight probably triggers them more than just hearing someone's voice. I guess video calls are somewhat more common now though.

“We have an enormous ecological disaster created by badly-designed social media now being used by people to control and exploit human beings in all sorts of ways.

“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


I don't understand why there has to be this dichotomy, you're either active on social media and miserable or off of them and happy. Why can't you have just a moderate use of Facebook. I mention FB because I don't really get Instagram, it's a bunch of photos with no context. I was forced to create a FB account to monitor the social media of a company I consult and my relationship with it thus far has been smooth as silk. Apart from the tracking stuff which I try to mitigate by blocking third party JS on web sites. Other than that it's another tool to get the job done. I don't befriend everyone that makes a request and rarely ever bother to view what my friends put in their timeline. I don't feel that there's only one way to use Facebook, which is to like and watch every little shit everyone in your social circle posts. Just sort stuff out and have a very conservative use of it. A chat session every now and then with friends you can't meet as often as you'd like and a little browsing of posts of the really important ones, like family and very dear friends. Everything else is just irrelevant and you can ignore it. Simple as that. Well at least it works for me.

> Why can't you have just a moderate use of Facebook.

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.

But the answer may not lie in promoting severance from alcohol/facebook. Like Elrant, I believe there should be a middle ground people try to reach. Not everyone may be able to reach it by themselves but education should be put before a more extreme solution such as cutting people from alcohol/facebook in my opinion. It is not efficient to tell a alcoholic to drink less but it is efficient to educate people around you about the dangers alcohol can pause.

That's a fair point.

Rather like email, you filter out the noise, you decide what you're going to consume that day, and you ignore everything else.

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.

Self-control is hard and dopamine is a hell of a drug.

I've had a pretty similar experience when quitting facebook. One think I've noticed is that it forces you to have different kinds of relationships with people. My friends that live on the other side of the country? I text them once a month or so to keep up, not just like their photos on facebook and feel like I'm still friends. I feel like social media tricks you into thinking you're building relationships. And while I see that it can help you keep in touch, it encourages relationships that aren't worthwhile. They are just surface level. Having real relationships with people takes more work and without social media you are forced to work a little harder just to maintain them. But this is worth it in my opinion.

What would you define as a "real relationship"? Is texting someone once a month any different than commenting on things going on in their lives, or messaging them on [insert platform]? My view is no - a relationship, whether by social media, text messages, or shared experiences, does not make any other form invalid or less real. I have seen people fall in love purely from online interactions while playing games, or chatting in IRC - these relationships are as real as any other. One person's notion of relationships may be different than another's, and that's ok, but trying to say one's notion is more real than another is hogwash. Depth is not so easily measured here either - direct text messages can also be just as banal (or more) as social media interaction in developing relationships.

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).

Well there's a complicated answer, because there are different kinds of relationships.

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".

My friends that live on the other side of the country? I text them once a month or so to keep up, not just like their photos on facebook and feel like I'm still friends.

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.

So what is more personal? Instant messaging? Video chat? Calling? Those tools exist outside of facebook. I don't understand why there's this constant belief that the only way to communicate with someone outside of facebook is text or email.

So what is more personal? Instant messaging? Video chat? Calling?

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.

If your argument is that someone will willfully discontinue contact with you because they restrict themselves to only one form of communication, well that doesn't sound like someone worth having. That sounds like toxic behavior and manipulation. And over such a petty thing too.

I don't buy it.

I have drastically reduced Facebook to like once a month or less (and even then, using only "mbasic.facebook.com" because their normal site is annoying to use). It takes less than a minute of my time because I rapidly realize how little value there is in the content. At this point their value is almost entirely to act as an address book because I’m a bit too lazy to dredge up at least one alternate contact method for each friend. Still, I think my “reconstruct normal address book and delete Facebook” day is coming soon.

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.

That's a pet peeve of mine as well. If you see something as you're clicking away from your timeline, good luck ever finding it again. Would it kill them to let you toggle between chonological and "curated"?

Yep, I shouldn’t have to re-neg on my promise to myself to “quit Facebook” just to check some details on a public invite / event that is only posted on Facebook.

I think it is all dependent on how you curate your feed. On Instagram, I only follow friends I know well in real life, and even then only about 50 or 60 of them. I am an avid guitarist, so follow a lot of guitar builders or stores that post some great shots of lovely instruments. I pretty much _never_ follow any celebrities or "influencers" at all as I don't do the whole 'fake life' thing.

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... ;)

Same here! Essentially everyone I follow on Instagram is an artist or skilled craftperson, with at most 1 degree of separation from someone I actually know. That means my feed is mainly people posting awesome projects they're working on - it's really nice to look at, and inspires me to make stuff.

Avoiding celebrities/influencers/boring friends is key.

Same here. I only follow maybe 10 friends on Instagram...the rest is artist, makers, hashtags and brands I am interested in

I've had a similar experience after leaving. My in-person social life is much better too. I read more books.

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.

More inspiration:


Whenever I feel too distracted, I find a half hour or so of reading a book to be really grounding. That either regrounds me for whatever I really need to be doing, or it turns into a few hours of really enjoyable, focused reading.

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.

I only wish they would remove the "Likes" counters from social media. It's so easy to get addicted to that and instead of posting stuff that interests you you start planning and posting stuff that gets most likes.

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...

Check out the VSCO app. It's a photography community where there's no publicly visible like/re-share counters (though the actions themselves exist).

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).

I like that HN has an upvote option, but I wish the numbers were hidden from me. I get pretty distracted

I think the difference is "content" vs. "communication".

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.

I agree but it's still pretty easy to get addicted to karma.

Here's a Chrome extension that does this: https://github.com/evexoio/focus-on-content (no affiliation).

That's a great point. But to state the obvious it begets engagement.

Yes, that glance at karma...

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?

Instagram makes me happy: my feed is full of cats, guns, food, and travel pictures from people I know (and from a couple of famous pro shooters, famous Japanese cats, a pro cat photographer, Beth Stern who does cat rescue, and a couple of vendors I use.) I post mostly travel, food, cat, and gun/range photos, sometimes datacenters/tech and weird architecture and conference photos. I can easily curate exactly what I want. I don't feel obligated to follow anyone because of social obligations, and I don't make any effort to post certain kinds of photos (other than generally trying for technical quality and "interesting").

Am I the only one who doesn't feel this way? These posts seems susceptible to positive response bias, but they also seem more common lately.

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).

Honestly, when I first read about the negative effects of these platforms I came to a realization that I was using them in a negative way. I abandoned the platform and I don't feel any different. I just spend my free time differently now. When I see others addicted to the approval loop, I feel a little bad for them, but there is no reason others cannot enjoy social networks positively.

No, but I think it has to do with how you use social media. I no longer use any type of social media, but it didn't change anything, because I rarely used Facebook for anything, nor did my circle of friends actually post anything. My wife on the other hand is a member of several Facebook groups, either support groups for one thing or another, or selling of used items and she follows several companies. The volume of absolutely garbage opinions and commentary she sifts through everyday is astonishing. I mean how the hell are people offended by an offer from the local supermarket?

Reading volumes of (unjustified) negativity everyday has to affect your mind in someway.

No your not. I'm always surprised that people's moods are so affected by these sites. If facebook disappeared tomorrow I cant imagine feeling any different. Id have to find a new way to share pictures on I guess. I tried instagram, and i never got into it.

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

I use Facebook and Instagram regularly and I am very happy with it. I like to share my pictures and my thoughts there and so do my friends.

One thing I just noticed with Instagram's website is that I can't select comment text any longer... that may or may not be a new change but I never noticed it earlier and it's driving me crazy now as I frequently copy comments to put into different translators.

I noticed already for a longer time how Facebook Inc. is restricting more and more what you can do with data on their websites, sharing stuff like video's and pictures outside of their domain is nearly impossible, and now you can't even select comments anymore. I suggest Facebook takes notice of the story how PayPal only started to become successful when they made it is easy for their clients to get money out of PayPal. In the early days it wasn't easy to get your money out of PayPal, PayPal thought it would be good for their financial numbers to try to keep user's money on the PayPal's bank account. But users stopped using it, because you couldn't get your money out easily. Only when PayPal decided to make it easy to get your money out, users started to come back. And guess what, users didn't take out their money en masse, it was enough to know you could get it out easily anytime you wanted to. I feel the same is with how Facebook Inc treats users data. Using Facebook's websites is like being in a prison, you can't get data out of it, it's annoying and I noticed I just stop using it more and more.

Yeah, it's super annoying. On mobile you are out of luck but on web I just manually set the -webkit-user-select and user-select CSS properties to false.

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.

Their site is also intentionally crippled so you need the app to do some things. For example, to upload pictures, the primary function of the site...

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 Android, Location needs to be enabled for an app to access ambient wifi (scan of all nearby APs). On iOS, there is no API for ambient wifi, though their location API does use it behind the scenes.

On both iOS and Android, an app can access connected wifi even with location disabled.

I was under the impression that on iOS an app without access to the location API still could get the name of the WIFI and perhaps the SSID too?

> site is also intentionally crippled so you need the app to do some things

I don't have a citation for this, but it's pretty clear that they do this to make automation harder.

I actually feel like the mobile app has some limitations as well to try to keep users in the app. They limit usage of URLs and such.

my note 8 does auto OCR on screenshots, vaguely effective.

There are currently about 30 people at my house for a family dinner. We aren't an actual, blood family, but we are close friends that crisscross paths through our various jobs and life events.

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.

Maybe that's what FB will eventually turn into, mostly. An evite.com

“Everything in moderation”

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.

The excess creeps in over time, I think, as you develop habits. Quitting cold turkey helps reset everything. It feels liberating to completely disconnect. Once you've been off for a few weeks, a month, then you can set up some boundaries and moderate usage, or maybe you'll discover you're better off without it.

This argument falls down because social media companies expend a lot of effort getting you to use their platform as much as possible. Why keep a snake that’s trying to bite you in your pocket?

I have to imagine that at some point in life, we have to take responsibility for our actions. That is, regardless of how much the cigarette or liquor companies market to me, I’m not going to allow myself to become addicted to their products. I drink. I very infrequently smoke a tobacco product. I don’t consume them in excess because I know it is bad for me.

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.

Social media started out as 'friends hanging out', but turned into 'friends bumping into each other at the mall while salespeople spray us with perfume'

I’d be sick of all these “deleting Facebook made me happier” posts, except I deleted Facebook and it made me happier, too.

I'm getting a bit tired of them because there's like an article a week with the same 'ol thing. At this point it's not news, and more like "duh!"

Yeah, great point.

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.

I did that 10 years ago, so I am at least 10 years happier than you ;-)

You should make a post on social media and.. oh wait.

Intelligent people are quitting Reddit too, that place has become a toilet except for very niche topics.

I would use some social media, but social networks don't want me to use them.

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.

Sharing your personal experience on CNBC is much more powerful than IG and FB. What’s the difference though? Having a need to share our opinions and personal life is the reason why social platforms exist in the first place. The real problem is us, not software companies.

In October, I took the month off alcohol. It was difficult sometimes due to social pressure, habit, and shitty days. But I made it the whole month and felt proud of myself.

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.

I found giving up meat to be a lot easier once I started cooking at home. If you eat in restaurants a lot it's more difficult, although I've found that restaurants in the U.S. and Europe are much more likely to have some non-meat options now than they were even a few years ago.

Manually unfollow everyone. It takes time but worth it. I never check FB anymore (over two years) because I have no news feed. I use Messenger still, unfortunately.

That creates an unneeded amount of work come January of re-following everyone and everything I want to follow.

This is a month experiment, not a permanent life change. At least, so far that's all it is.

I bit the bullet and deactivated my Facebook a few weeks ago. The first few days I found myself going to website a lot, but seeing the login screen was always enough to make me exit out of it. Now, I rarely even start to type Facebook.com in, and only end up there if following a link from elsewhere.

Just logging out of facebook worked for me. Or uninstall app from phone if you use mobile.

So I have been wondering what the world would be like if randomly selected self-report happiness was an executive-level KPI (key performance indicator) at Facebook. Perhaps a billion people might be a few percent happier?

Ask someone from Bhutan :)

I use instagram to get inspired, I follow artists, photographers and travelers. It really depends on how you use it. I also love photography, so I will always take photos when I travel. I don't think deleting instagram will make me happier or taking less photos. Everyone is different.

Me too. I always search how others do composition, what good photo spots are before I go to a particular place to take photo.

I no longer use fb, instagram and twitter. Was not a premeditated decision though. Just lost interest on them. I found traditional forums like hn more enjoyable.

I miss the more traditional forums.

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.

I actually like Instagram. I only got on it a year ago and it has nice features like “you’ve reached the end of your new feed” and stuff like that. Takes me 30 s to go through every day and see what my friends have posted.

The stories stuff let’s me tap to move through. Overall, quite pleased.

you’ve reached the end of your new feed

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.

The second part of the headline of the piece ("and that's a big problem for social media companies") stood out to me as super-hyperbolic. From my perspective it seems to me that me and my peer's relationship with social media is like unhealthy food. We know it's bad for us, it's just way easier to reach for it than to reach for what it's replacing or substituting for, in the social media case traditional interactions.

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.

The hyperbole might've been injected later by an editor or whoever optimizes cnbc.com articles for pageviews & clicks. Not sure what that person's job title would be. (Senior Outrager? Assistant Click Angler? FUDmaster General?)

Question is: would there be a lot of people willing to take these so called baby steps if they can post pics like this on the CNBC website - https://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/img/edit..., and would that make them happier?

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”).

I find that being immersed in a challenging personal project tends to drastically lower the compulsion to fire up dopamine crutches like Instagram, Reddit and HN and also ends up being a far more rewarding experience.

I think it.. depends - I use instagram as my inspiration feed - it's full of nice things, not other people's lifes - so I think it depends who are you following or what content are you interested it - most of my instagram feed contains professional lego builds, custom mechanical keyboard or bauhaus-like designed products.

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.

It’s a self fulfilling prophecy, quitting any social network because you think it will make you happier probably will.

It very likely has a real effect for some people, beyond just placebo.

Only way to know is to get people who are actively using social networks and aren’t thinking about quitting to just quit for no reason. Chances are you probably won’t see any change in happiness, just a change in habits.

That would be a fascinating experiment to perform if experimenters could get compliance.

I've been doing what I call #FacebookLessFridays. Think meatless Mondays but different.

Knowing that I have no "obligation" to do FB is liberating and empowering. That said, I still check HN ;)

I never been nor on FB nor on Instagram and never feel the need of being on. Many keep asking me for WhatsApp, Skype, Hangout, ... I polity decline saying I have mail, with a good setup not crappy webmails, and I have a VoIP {soft,desk,cordless}phone(s) with plain PSTN numbers from multiple countries so anyone can call me toll free from their PSTN/VoIP/GSM phones.

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.

some things youre extolling will mean social ostracization. if i tell someone to email me vs whatsapping me with the phone number they already have, you know what will happen? the person will just say it's too much hassle to contact me.

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

If someone is not willing to contact me via classic phone, mail or SMS well... I do not need to be contacted. It's not a matter of social ostracization.

Also IMO it's a lesson I give for free to my contacts because I explain why I do not use such services.

This can work both ways.

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.


Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact