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I Quit Social Media for a Year (joshcsimmons.com)
507 points by jcpsimmons 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 359 comments

My biggest issue with social media is less that it's distracting (IMO not necessarily an unhealthy thing) but that it has, for me, more than anything else seemed to make all aspects of my life a competition with others.

On Instagram, you're competing with others on who has the happiest life.

On LinkedIn, you're competing with others on who has the steepest career trajectory.

Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you're competing with other in gaining professional influence.

It creates a lot of anxiety that stems from a feeling like you're constantly on the verge of falling behind others.

Plenty of scholars/thinkers/philosophers have said something to the effect of focusing on just being a better version of you. Social media enables the exact opposite i.e. forcing you to constantly evaluate how you compare to others.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like social media and I’m capable of controlling my usage. I’ve developed some ground rules to ensure a good healthy experience.

To start, I have an iOS rule that prevents more than 7 minutes of each social media app per day. I pretty much only use Facebook. After the timer is up that’s it for the day.

I honestly enjoy seeing picture of my friends, their kids, their vacations, and the fun things they are doing. I don’t have FOMO and I’m not depressed seeing people doing something more fun than I am in that exact moment. In some cases I’m inspired to go somewhere or do something because I know my family or I would enjoy it. I rarely post myself, even if I’m doing something FOMO worthy (okay, maybe sometimes). I’ll share some photos from big occasions like birthdays or weddings since I think other people may want to see them, especially if they are in the photos.

I generally use social media when I’m waiting for a train, sitting in a doctors office, or going to the bathroom. I never itch for it during the day and rarely find myself reaching for the app robotically. One thing that’s definitely help to curb constant dopamine hits and addiction is disabling all social media notifications. I’m never pushed content, I only pull it. Actually, I’ve disabled almost every single notification on my phone with the exception of imessage, slack, citizen, and photos. My phone never buzzes from email, social media, or anything else that I find distracting.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do but never do is clean up my Facebook friend list so it’s only the people I care about. For what it’s worth Facebook seems to do a decent job of filtering it. But one day I’ll do it right.

I don't know if we're in the minority, but I'm completely with you. I use social media for about 15 minutes a day and it only improves my life. I'm happy when I see my friends being happy.

I think people who blame their life problems on social media have deeper underlying issues. Mark Zuckerberg didn't invent envy in 2004.

Well, I tend to see it like opioids, for example. Some people can just use their prescribed dosage and in the end they have no addiction whatsoever. Many more, even though they use their prescribed dosage, start an addiction which can lead to their lives getting ruined.

I think the same happens with social media. There are people who are more prone to addiction than others. People close to me have claimed to have felt much better after deleting/deactivating their social media accounts.

Personally it's been more than 10 years without Facebook, and I never had an Instagram, so there's not much I can say about the topic from my own experience.

> Many more, even though they use their prescribed dosage, start an addiction which can lead to their lives getting ruined.

I don't know if it's true that many more people prescribed opioids become addicted than not, and spreading such information harms people who do need them.

You're absolutely right, it seems I've made a typo inadvertently. It's true that less people become addicted than not.

That's still a number of days a year dedicated entirely to social media. Sure, it could be worse, but it's still (in my opinion) a significant amount of time over a year, or over your life.

The thing is I feel like maybe you get more out of those 15 minutes than me, or others who feel like it's too much time. Those telling people not to use social media are probably the ones that don't have good experiences with social media. To each their own, I suppose. It's important to remember different people are going to have different experiences and that is going to paint your feelings about it. As much as it seems that social media does have a general negative impact on people, I'm sure there are people for who it is fine. Should we chastise everyone to stop? Probably not, just let others know it could be affecting them and how to stop, etc.

It reminds me of people who get anxious on marijuana and then always go anti-drug on other people because they think "this stuff is terrible, no one should do this" yet for a lot of other people they had great experiences, and so the reverse is true "this stuff is great, everyone should try this". They're sort of both wrong there.

Either way personally, I don't get much out of social media and so I don't use it. If you feel like you're getting something out of it worth those few days a year spent on it, go for it, although just be mindful that it's something that feels good, but might not actually be good itself.

> That's still a number of days a year dedicated entirely to social media.

That's not necessarily a bad thing though is it? I speak to my parents on the phone 1-2x per week for ~30 minutes at a time. That's 1-2 days a year just on the phone.

I do sometimes get FOMO - I think it's just natural, but I try and look at it as an opportunity to improve myself and practice being mindful.

Essentially I have two options if I feel a bit envious:

1) Feel envy and get depressed because I start thinking I have a worse life.

2) Share in their joy - send a like, write a positive comment or sometimes just do nothing except focus on being excited for them . By sharing in their joy, I get to experience a bit of their happiness for myself. If I write them a comment, even if it's just 'Congrats!', then there's a chance I might even make them a little happier too - which in itself makes me happier.

This did not come naturally to me at first. I've worked on cultivating this attitude for many years. It's one of the best investments I've ever made in myself.

I don't know if we're in the minority, but I agree. Facebook has just become the defacto shared calendar for me and my friends, so I spend less than a few minutes on it on average a day.

Just checked and I spent 7 minutes on it on Sunday, nothing since, and the most I've used it in a day in the last three weeks is 5 minutes, at least on my phone.

Similar for Twitter but with a peak at 40 minutes a couple weeks ago (how?!). And Reddit I probably use about twice as much, which is still not bad, I don't think. Is it "social media", really?

That's really all I've got, if we're excluding group chats. Those, I use probably an unhealthy amount.

I don’t think Reddit fits the criteria of “social media” as most users don’t know the people they interact with in real life. I think of it more as a news aggregator as it’s easy to get current events linked from different sources in a single UI.

I routinely bounce back and forth between Reddit & CNN to get updates.

Envy has been around for a long time, but there is plenty of evidence that modern social media is essentially Ph.D's doing everything they can to make an addicting experience to drive ad revenue.

It's designed from the ground up to be addicting and attention getting -- envy is just one of the buttons they press to trip that addiction.

I'm trying to get myself to read Facebook and Instagram once in a while.

I (edit: think I) should because it seems like a good way to stay updated.

For some reason Facebook never clicked with me.

I waste some time on the rest of the Internet though.

> To start, I have an iOS rule that prevents more than 7 minutes of each social media app per day. I pretty much only use Facebook. After the timer is up that’s it for the day.

I'm glad you enjoy the experience and are able to control it, but isn't it telling that you have to put a timer on it to prevent it from being a negative experience? It's like a drug you have to heavily regulate so you don't OD.

Not OP but I also have a timer for certain social media apps, including Facebook.

For me, the timer is just there to remind me X minutes have passed. Losing track of time while doing something, anything feels natural to me. It happens in real life when I stumble upon a friend on the street and we start chatting and it happens in social media when I scroll too much.

If I'm reading something and my time is up, I just extend that and able to close the app afterward.

> To start, I have an iOS rule that prevents more than 7 minutes of each social media app per day.

But when you open the app at minute 8, there's a prominent "Ignore Limit" button right there. Are you relying on mere self control? Or do you have some way to actually prevent app usage?

Sometimes all you need in order to gain that self control is to have your nose rubbed in it.

Much as we hate them, this is one way that detailed timesheets help. The very fact that you're writing down what you were doing for each half-hour or whatever is enough to keep you focused because even if there are no further repercussions, you really don't want to write "hacker news 3.5 hours".

Speaking of which... closes tab

Most of my usage is in a single session or two short sessions. Once I hit the limit I close the app and I usually don’t come back for the day. I have pretty good self control , but more importantly I want to use my time on other things. If I’m killing time I’d much rather read hacker news, work through my 800 article Pocket backlog, listen to an audio book, or flip through some pictures / memories of my kids.

The limit was a choice I made up front to be a reminder not to waste too much time and to stop and do something else. But honestly, I try not to put too much thought into it. If I’m really enjoying what I’m doing in that moment I’ll give myself an extension for a few minutes. But it’s rare I do that more than once.

I don’t think about it as an addiction that I’m trying to break or a habit I’m trying to avoid. I’ve made the conscious that social media is something I enjoy but don’t want to spend too much time on. So I put an arbitrary limit that reminds me to stop and do something else. My general mindset about most things is that doing it to excess isn’t good. Is wasting your day on social media that much worse than binging Netflix all day? Sure, if social media is causing anxiety, depression, or [enter any other issue here] then it’s something that should be managed. But if you are using it responsibly, not in excess, and are healthy about it, it seems fine to use from time to time with it without arbitrary limits.

> I pretty much only use Facebook. After the timer is up that’s it for the day.

Any reasonable definition of social media would include any site whose main content is user-contributed, and allows users to comment and vote on content and comments. For example: reddit, youtube, imgur, .....HN.

You may be consuming a lot more social media than you thought.

Not all social media is equal in its mental effects

I'm not at all convinced that HN is better than Facebook.

But we're the smart ones engaged in intellectually stimulating conversation, while everyone else is just a vain, endorphin-addled monkey in a Skinner box sharing cat memes, links and mundane trivialities. /s

I'm with you too. I check Instagram a few times a day, but I only have my real friends on there. People I hang out with in real life, whom I legitimately care about. Not that many, so doesn't take long, and I enjoy knowing what they're up to. On Facebook I'm friends with a ton of acquaintances past and present, but I almost never actually look at the feed. I'll look up someone's profile if I run into them maybe, or if I'm expecting to see them. And it's handy for planning events. But I've never really understood how people become addicted to looking through the feeds of people they don't even like. That said, I've also met people who smoke a cigarette every couple months, and never feel the desire to smoke more; maybe we're that, but for social media.

> One thing I’ve always wanted to do but never do is clean up my Facebook friend list so it’s only the people I care about. For what it’s worth Facebook seems to do a decent job of filtering it. But one day I’ll do it right.

This is what made the biggest difference for me. Last year, I deleted both my Facebook and Instagram accounts for about 4 months. I found that I didn't miss my Facebook at all. My Instagram had been a decent way of staying in touch with a group of friends and family. I ended up creating an Instagram account again, but now that I was starting from scratch again, I was pretty mindful of who I followed. At this point I have about 40 people I follow, all of whom are people I know quite well and aren't particularly prolific posters. This is in comparison to the 200 or so I had amassed through college and beyond. I find that I don't even use Instagram for an average of 5 minutes per day, as thats about as long as it takes to actually see everything new since the day before.

Its much more of a tool for informally keeping up with a handful of people I wouldn't otherwise than the time-sucking, attention-hijacking bloat of weak and non-existent relationships that it had become. And it basically makes other social media like Facebook and Twitter unnecessary.

Deleting all social media is great, but for many people, it may be just as effective to simply do a Marie Kondo-esque purge of the social media junk you've accumulated over time.

If you don't mind me asking, is there a reason why it's 7 minutes and not, say, 5 or 10?

I actually tried both. 10 felt too long and approaching the territory of wasting more time than I wanted. 5 felt like it wasn’t long enough. I guess 7 was just right for me.

why 5 or 10 rather than 7, hm?

Fair point. I think humans having (usually) 5 fingers on each hand makes it familiar to us.

What about -∞?

Yup. I do not see it as a competition. On Instagram I share my photos (landscapes usually) and look at other photos. Could not care less about Instagram stories.

On Linkedin I just keep my profile and ocassionaly get inquires. My last few jobs were all result of someone reaching me on the Linkedin.

On Facebook I just filter out anyone who posts stuff what I deem not interesting.

And Twitter… I just do not get it. Looks like continuous noise.

> On Facebook I just filter out anyone who posts stuff what I deem not interesting.

I did this. Now I don't follow anyone. This was not done consicously it just happened. Turns out, most stuff on FB is stupid nonsense. I just have weird ads and FB auto notifications like celebrate your 2 years of knowing this person whom you just unfollowed.

nice setup. personally i've moved to a two device solution in two physical different places, where the "serious" device has /etc/hosts black holing of addictive domains + social media; were i able to consume it in a healthy manner on a mobile device, the iOS rule would be great.

That's the number one reason I root my phone. Not to block ads, just to block Reddit.

This kind of answer is what's problematic with social media.

Don't get me wrong, I understand you, I too don't feel the competition when using them, I disabled almost every single notification (I constantly keep my phone on DND), but I aknwoledge that they are bad for a number of reasons, among the others:

- they put the "normality" bar too high

- they are too fast to follow

- they promote content consumption over slow ingestion

- they promote throw away content over curated lists of what we like

- they promote the "sugar rush" of immediate reward over rational, slow and often tiring discussions

- they tend to cause depression

- finally, they favour dividing, inflammatory content because their metric is engagement

If you admit you're force-limiting yourself from using them, you know they are problematic per se.

I used to smoke cigarettes when I was waiting for the bus or the train or someone late.

Now I don't anymore.

I don't smoke during the day, I don't smoke home, I don't make cigarette breaks, I never hitch for them during the day, but I smoke when I'm out with my girlfriend doing aperitivo, because we're both social smokers.

I'm limiting myself, it wasn't even hard, I don't have to use an app to not smoke, but cigarettes are bad anyway, zero is the right amount of them.

The same goes for social networks: you can resist them, you can be a responsible user, you can force yourself to not fall into their dark patterns (or you're naturally good at avoiding time) but zero is the right amount of time to spend on them.

We must understand that until social networks will be private held and under little or no control from public institutions, they can't be considered good.

They are to be considered as adversaries of our wellness at the best, if not enemies or even villains.

Take for example IKEA, their shops are beautiful but I don't think it's good to go there, from time to time, maybe with your kids, just to see what's new.

I think it's good to go if you __have to go__ and really need something.

Recently I was indefinitely suspended from Twitter.

The reason is laughable, I had a "fight" with a well known Italian far right supporter, but I forgot they have a network of very active trolls, I made a mistake, I felt into a trap and they signaled me en mass and deleted all their messages and now I'm out.

What's so funny about it?

Firs of all I was using Twitter mainly to keep in touch with the updates of the programming communities I follow, mainly Elixir/Erlang.

Secondly, I never felt better! I'm out from the daily background noise of complaints and after just a couple of weeks their networks have been finally identified and Facebook/Instagram banned them all (https://www.thelocal.it/20190910/facebook-shuts-down-italian...).

On the bright side, when Dorsey released to interviews saying that "you don't simply ban nazis from your platform because it's hard to identify them" Twitter’s share price fell as much as 4 percent.

You might think this is all avoidable, but if I follow a programmer who's also an activist (doesn't matter which part they support) I'm almost certainly forced to see the content they post/like/share.

So to defend myself I must take action, actions that after a while become a job, it is tiring, it forces you to make decisions that you usually don't have to take when dealing with people in person or on different communication platforms, HN as well, even though it's not my favourite, the interaction is certainly better than on any social media out there.

When was the last time you looked at the open sky?

Well lets see some responses. I saw it like 5mins ago. Europe is having some beautiful days right now.

I feel like Hackernews is more distracting to be honest, it's like crack, I just cannot stop looking through all these interesting posts.

In between the SV hivemind posts is distributed just enough nuggets of mindblowing technical, business and even medical wisdom (from insanely switched-on people) that it keeps me checking. It's the ultimate infovore loot box.

Well said, finding compelling info on here is such a dopamine rush. Receiving a dopamine rush from learning something interesting is probably a good thing though.

Here's something interesting I'd like to share (if you don't already know of it): https://news.ycombinator.com/over?points=70

For the past ~2 years I've only been looking at HN through this link. This limits the amount of listings I can see, while at the same time ensuring "higher quality" dopamine rushes. It's worked out for me quite well with giving me what I want to see, while wasting less time sifting through uninteresting stuff. Pretty much like reddit's top vs. hot functionality, just changing my defaults.

There's also https://news.ycombinator.com/best as an alternative for a similar purpose. I learned about those two and other undocumented features from https://github.com/minimaxir/hacker-news-undocumented

You could also subscribe to HN on feed reader with such limitations, https://edavis.github.io/hnrss/ and http://hnapp.com/ are two that I have used in the past. e.g. https://hnrss.org/newest?comments=100 and http://hnapp.com/rss?q=comments%3E100 creates a feed limited by number of comments.

In the end I decided RSS wasn't ideal way to follow HN though, and for quite some time I have been using https://hckrnews.com/ almost exclusively to skim through top 10 posts for each day. Or top 20 or top 50%, if you have more free time. Plus I like the table layout, with comments/points in their respective columns.

I got a dopamine rush reading this!

You are all a bunch of junkies... scoot over.

What has helped me a bit is the https://hackernewsletter.com/ - I can be sure to get the good nuggets, just a couple days later.

Haha, you mention this, but I found it helps me find posts that slipped by my addiction. A blessing in disguise.

I would like to try that - but it looks like the last issue was in January?

The noprocrast setting is really helpful, personally. I wish every site had this.

I didn't even know this existed, thanks! Hopefully this will curb things a bit

What does that setting do? There is no tooltip.

Looks like turning it on enables the maxvisit and minaway categories. Maxvisit is how many minutes you can browse before getting shutoff. Minaway is how long before you can browse again.

Question: how many of the articles do you read in their entirety? Do you spend 1 or 5 or 20 minutes thinking about the content? I’d like a comparison between, say, a library where you can find a nice book and sit-and-read for a good 2 hours.

I think HN is more of a news aggregator with comments than social media platform. But it has the same problem as anything compared with “crack” and that’s a quick information fix.

I like a lot of the stuff on here too but I often book mark things and don’t necessarily go back to it. Some things yes but mostly no.

> Question: how many of the articles do you read in their entirety? Do you spend 1 or 5 or 20 minutes thinking about the content? I’d like a comparison between, say, a library where you can find a nice book and sit-and-read for a good 2 hours.

I don't read anything on Medium. I brush it off as marketing bs. Github pages though I do read. I read documentations of software frameworks on HN that I find intersting. Sometimes source code too (if I can understand it).

>I like a lot of the stuff on here too but I often book mark things and don’t necessarily go back to it. Some things yes but mostly no.

I use Firefox for this, but their bookmarking system is awful.

I only read the comments 99% of the time. This is usually because there are more interesting insights in the comments than in the post itself, and usually at least one person finds a mistake that renders the entire post nullified in its teachings. This may be a methodological error in a research article, a financial error in a business article, and so on.

In the off chance that commentors say it's good enough to read, I skim it, and very rarely, I will read it in depth.

Probably about 50% of those I read are done in full, the rest skimmed. Usually not much reflection happens after reading most articles unless they seem rather poignant.

I recently started bookmarking things and reading them in full later, but honestly what gives me the biggest kick are the comments. I also really dig the ask and show sections.

Try reading books on mobile. Once you get used to it, you just cannot stop. I read 5 books in 2 months - on container shipping, nikola tesla's biography stuff like that - none very useful to me but the point is I read them.

I want to get into this. How do you read your books? I have a TON of PDFs but reading PDFs on an iPhone is really frustrating because of the way the Books app displays them. I have to constantly zoom in and out and pan around.

Would you recommend a good resource for container shipping?

HN is a form of social media, though: users submit content, comment on content and each other, and can upvote content and comments.

I disagree on the basis that a hacker news account has no intrinsic ties with a personal identity.

It also has no notion of relationships between users.

The main upside though is not feeling the urge to compete with other people which makes it different from the likes of Facebook/Instagram.

I suspect most people using those other social media sites don't feel such an urge. If anything, some people use it as their primary means of socializing, communicating and consuming media, which is unhealthy, but they do so because the medium is convenient, not because it drives them in some relentless pursuit of "likes."

It still creates the internet karma points thing, visible in the top corner.

And there is "but there are people WRONG on the internet!" effect, which means demonstrating domain knowledge and winning arguments drive their interest -- something that seems strikingly more common with knowledge workers (e.g. lawyers, programmers, professors), than, say, construction workers. People wanna feel smart, esp. in their areas of proficiency and dominance.

I'm sure someone will post the relevant XKCD any minute now...

It is all shit. Everywhere you go it will be shit, just a different flavor. That is what I have taken away from life.

Social media is simply white-washing shit experiences and pretending they are gold. Life is not always positive, otherwise you are fooling yourself.

I am not cynical. I am just a realist. We need to drop this total farce of a behavior and stop conning each other if we hope to rise above it.

Life is hard. Social media pretends like life is not hard, mind-fucking everyone. Social media is garbage.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."

   -- George Bernard Shaw

> I am not cynical. I am just a realist.

I agree with your broad premise about social media frequently being a poor representation of day to day life. The it's all shit part probably implies you're at least somewhat cynical. It's clearly not all shit, plenty of it certainly is. People frequently live different quality of lives vs their peers in fact; some people live amazing lives, some people live horrible lives. In a developed country, by far the largest distribution is likely to be a mixture of good and blah, with some occasional amazing and some bad thrown in.

> We need to drop this total farce of a behavior and stop conning each other if we hope to rise above it.

That behavior has always existed, it will always exist, so long as humanity does. Nothing can change it short of altering humanity through technology (and then we're something else), forced evolution (which we have begun, first pitch of the first inning; but it will probably take hundreds of years before we very substantially alter what we are; and we may make these things even worse, sharper). It's hard wired signaling and competition built into human nature, all the way down to the most fundamental aspects of what we are, including the pursuit of reproduction. Social media is nothing more than an aggressive, in your face, projected expression of it. It's the expression of many of the driving forces of human nature, amped up: sex, lust, attraction, status, materialism, greed, competition, envy, jealousy, pride, fear, validation, anger, inspiration, with some awww kittens & puppies thrown in. And that's also why people are drawn to it so intensely, it's a drug rush.

You missed an important checkmark on realism: 'we' can't rise above these things, humanity is these things. That's the actual reality. And it isn't going away, people will be complaining about all of this stuff in exactly the same way 20 or 30 years from now, except this will all seem tame compared to what will occur in the future: it will get worse yet.

I'm sure you probably know why Coca-Cola is called Coca-Cola. If you don't - cocaine. It was one of the key ingredients in coke's initial product. A less well known example is Vin Mariani. A French wine that was made with a mixture of 6 milligrams of cocaine per ounce of wine endorsed by numerous historical figures including Thomas Edison and Ulysses S. Grant. Edison claimed it helped him stay awake. Oh indeed Mr. Edison.

The reason this is relevant is because the dates for these things start in the mid 1800s. Vin Mariani was made in the 1860s, Coca-Cola was inspired by Vin Mariani and came a decade or two later. Suffice to say the coke craze spread pretty quickly. And it's not like this was coke-lite or anything like that. It was genuine cocaine, same as we have today. And you had similar mental and physical consequences atop raging addiction.

It wouldn't be banned until 1914 and even that was due more to racism than concern for its effects. The New York Times ran a story in 1914 decrying "negro cocaine fiends" [1] which is what finally started the push to it getting banned. The only reason it took so long is because people were addicted and tried to ignore or set aside the negative consequences of it all, or even deny they existed. And that was pretty easy to do - Edison and Grant don't exactly rank near the top of your list of famous druggies. Nonetheless, the consequences were real and widespread.

The point here is that if you go back to the times before 1914, it'd be easy to imagine a future full of an ever larger chunk of the population degenerating under the influence of an ever increasing number of cocaine driven products. And in fact it would have seemed odd to predict anything else. Because when you're predicting the future you never predict 90 degree turns, because they sound absurd. Yet it's paradoxical because one of the few things you can guarantee about the future is that there will be countless more of these 90 degree turns.

[1 raw text] - http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/Negro_cocaine_fi...

[1 New York Times paywalled version] - https://www.nytimes.com/1914/02/08/archives/negro-cocaine-fi...

Fantastic, thoughtful post. I knew nothing of Vin Mariani!

Yeah and before that damn social media it was the cell phone, and the god danged TV, and that freakin radio accelerated the downfall of society, but it's really the telegram that ruined everything I tell you!

What absurd and ridiculous claims. Go speak to someone who has receieved life-saving healthcare in the developing world because of social media. Talk to someone who found their spouse through social media. Talk to someone who left their home country to travel across the world for a better life and only in the last 5 years have they been able to easily reconnect with their loved ones back home.

What an utterly, comically backwards take on the matter. It simply takes 5 seconds of not assuming you are the center of the universe to realize that that social media has provided value to the world.

Social Media also got Trump elected, someone who has radically changed the most powerful and rich country in the world for the worse and potentially started a trend towards a breakdown of Western Liberalism and an increasing fragility in idea of a democracy being the best option for future growth and prosperity. Social Media is responsible for the rise in nationalism and the crisis in the UK over immigration and Brexit and the associated violence and racist attacks and abuse.

Social Media is responsible for the massive viral spread of people believing in conspiracy theories, antivaxxers, flat-earthers, anti climate-changers, etc. so social media is responsible (indirectly) for people dying due to not being vaccinated.

Social Media is responsible for the escalation in political rhetoric and the gradual ratcheting of tensions in America and the development of the "alt right" and also indirectly responsible for the increase in mass shootings in America due to the propaganda and "fake news" spread on Facebook and Twitter.

Well said. It's a completely new way of allowing the garbage of society to get together and become a disgusting mass with way more power than they should have. Comparing it to the satanic panic is, I think, being incredibly disingenuous.

What the fuck? How many people have died because electricity was "invented"? (hint: death from anything that uses, or was produced by electricity, outpaces all other deaths, period)

Or cars? Modern computing, yes the one you're criticizing technology on right now, exists in large part because of IBM, who quite literally brought cutting-edge technology to mass genocide during the Holocaust.

But social media is the villain here? What an absurd take.

One would argue the subject is more specific. Not "Social Media", but specific companies that decided to play fast and loose with dangers that have been known for decades.

Surely propaganda existed long before Social Media.

> Go speak to someone who has receieved life-saving healthcare in the developing world because of social media.

Sounds like an unfair situation to me: the one with the most likes on Facebook gets the best healthcare?

> Talk to someone who left their home country to travel across the world for a better life and only in the last 5 years have they been able to easily reconnect with their loved ones back home.

As in: just look at their holiday pictures but never really talk?

You have a toxic mindset. Change that.


There's one of a million case studies.

I consider social media a place where you learn about other people. In the example you linked to, social media (in this case Facebook) is used more in a way to gather information. That is fine, but that was already possible in the days before we had social media, e g. through forums. While I applaud the particular use case, I don't consider this a strong argument in favor of social media.

It sounds like you've gerrymandered the definition of "social media" to exclude most of its positive qualities, leaving only the negative impacts, to be honest.

And there are hundreds of case studies like the one I linked to, and sure, it was "possible" in the days of internet forums the same way it was "possible" to send text messages in 1995.

Found the Facebook employee

Great contribution.

Am I wrong?

That seems like a very cynical interpretation.

You're buying into the stereotypical myth that social media is always like this, a glamourised facade. My social media feed is anything but positive. People are very real about their problems.

Just the other day I read an article that being open about your issues is the new hotness on social media. I would even say it's the other way around now. People fake problems in order to get followers.

Did you miss the huge, huge parts of social media where people connect over their problems?

> On Instagram, you're competing with others on who has the happiest life.

No, I'm laughing at memes and seeing pictures of friends that I can't be with.

> On LinkedIn, you're competing with others on who has the steepest career trajectory.

No, I'm keeping in touch with colleagues and advertising my skills.

If you're using those services as you describe, you should stop now.

I think the extreme opposite equally applies on social media, people who would moderate themselves in real life seem to let it all out on social media. So instead of pretending to be something they are not, they reveal their truest opinions and thoughts.

For example extreme political and religious opinions. I've seen long term real life friendships broken because someone said something extreme about Brexit on facebook. I have a very religious friend who berates me constantly on facebook for being an ex-Catholic, she tells me I need to save myself etc - but she would never say that to me in real life.

Social media is so good at making people say stupid things.

Curiously I don't feel that way. There's very little competition involved in the way I use social media.

On Instagram, I rarely if ever look at other people's stories or posts other than a few close friends whose happiness can make me feel happy. But I do post my own and receive psychological validation when other people react positively to them.

LinkedIn isn't even a social media for me. It's a place to dump facts about my career. I don't read the feed.

My Facebook feed is just various memes trying to be funny. I look at them and laugh occasionally.

There's just no competition aspect for me on social media.

I disagree, but that's just me and my opinion. It probably comes down to personality type. For me Facebook/Instagram is simply a form of communication, where am just seeing pictures of family and friends. Again am ruthless about pruning my contacts ( will hide all the narcissistic ones). LinkedIn - only active when am looking for a job, I'll post from time to time.

The way to compensate for this is to realize the perception bias you're applying to yourself.

If you have 52 friends on Facebook, and each of them takes a vacation for one week out of the year, then every week you see someone broadcasting how they're having a more awesome time than you.

That doesn't mean they're doing any better than you. You just don't see the 52 reactions for the one week that you've got the vacation 'advantage' over them. You only notice the comparison when you're on the worse side of it.

I feel happy for my friends when they take a nice vacation. But the vast majority of them are mediocre photographers at best. No matter how awesome the location is, it's hard to feel jealous when the pictures are all blurry and backlit.

I realise this isn't the point of your post, but it's exceedingly unlikely that they all take vacations on different weeks... like 4.73 * 10^-22 unlikely if vacation choice was random, which it isn't.

I love HN!

Blind is one of the worst. Useful for information, but super toxic for comparison. The problem with social media is not that it's 100% useless, it's that it's hard to walk the line. In the example of Blind, it is good to be informed, but it's bad to compare.

>Blind is one of the worst. Useful for information, but super toxic for comparison

Blind seems more like 4chan parading around as linkedin, and I haven't found much substance there at all. It seems like a bunch of recent college grads trying to one up each other even while being anonymous. Just a lot of thinly veiled humblebrags pretending to be questions like "I got an offer for $350k at google, but I like my current position making $320k at Apple. Should I take it?", along with extremely simple questions that would be better answered by google like "what does company xyz do?". I've only poked around for about an hour, so if anyone has suggestions for a better experience I'm all ears. My initial exposure did not leave a good taste in my mouth.

You can at least get "honest" opinions of things as well as some of the best salary negotiation / salary info available. $350k at google isn't a newgrad salary but it is a typical L4-L5 compensation: https://www.levels.fyi/

Haven’t we always done this though?

It seems like it’s more that social media has made the playing field 10^9 instead of 10^3.

It's more insidious than that though. The most damaging aspect of it is that these anxieties are evoked 24/7 thanks to social media companies trying their best to get their userbase addicted to their product to maximize user engagement.

Back in the day, you might have felt those social pressures, but only in limited settings and ultimately you could control the situation by removing yourself from anxiety invoking situations. There was ample room for getting a mental break from these situations.

But social media completely destroys any respite anyone could possibly have. They exploit the FOMO feeling as best they can to essentially guilt their users to constantly "engage" on their platform, which leaves the end user pretty helpless in being able to seek respite from these negative social pressures. I'm only 35 and I haven't used social media in any meaningful way for 5+ years and it has been the best decision ever. I don't really miss out on much and I definitely am much happier than when I had to wade through all the crap people post on social media just to keep up appearances in the social media rat race.

That’s my take. The bigger downside IMO is that the most successful people, i.e. experts, at something exist in the 10^9 social group, rather than the 10^3, and likely multiple experts exist in the 10^9 space.

A strange side effect is that the digital world also amplifies the outliers and makes the others in the large group of people seem non existent, leaving you to feel like you are majorly behind, when the reality is you are likely closer than most.

Yep. The problem with social media is that it exploits and amplifies existing human tendencies, not that it creates new ones.

Bill Maher had a good "New Rule" on this very phenomenon a few weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGp-omDD3V0

pre social media was 10^3?

I was thinking more "10 to 20". I suppose from person to person and at different stages of life the filter of who is appropriate for your playing field might change. . but even 10^2 seems high. I can barely name 20 critically important people in my life let alone those which are on my playing field. I have managed this, a bit unconsciously. Generally when my field is managed in line with my conscious values I'd only regard a person who I know and respect professionally. Further filtering on whether I actually feel like I personally (not just professionally) know the person.

curious what a different playing field mechanism might be described as

As sibling comment hints, you have multiple concepts mixed together.

The monkeysphere is "how many people you can comprehend as people with their own full lives", and is on the order of 150-300.

"Critically important" in your life is a far higher bar, so 10 to 20 makes sense.

"Playing field" is a far lower bar where only the relevant metric matters, which widens the range to a far larger number of people.

For most people it's supposedly something like 10^2.5 or ~300 people in your monkey sphere of varying levels of importance. So, in an exponential sort of way its decent rounding :P

Isn’t this call keeping up with the Jones’s? If the neighbor has a new car then you want one too. This is just the cyberspace equivalent.

We used to wake up, read the paper, see all the terrible things in the world and say “oh well, at least my life is better than those poor slobs.” But now it’s the opposite. Social media tells you everyone is having more fun, with more toys and more friends than you. They’re always in Saint Kitts having Mai Tais at sunset while you’re in Canoga Park selling your plasma at dusk. Yolo!

Before Instagram, you could be a loser but not feel it because the winners weren’t always in your face. Even the most mundane post of avocado toast in a hipster coffee shop sends the message “I’m having fun and you’re not.”

Used to be you'd read the paper and all the shitty things going on in the world and then... you'd stop reading the paper. And talk and deal with people making an ordinary day of it.

Not it's in your face 24/7.

foxie, you're not competing with anyone https://apps.apple.com/us/app/foxie/id1369279200

I am sure this is true for some, but certainly not all. In a way, I am quite anxious about what I share because it’s all so... permanent... and personal. I miss a more anonymous web where impermanence _felt_ real, even if it wasn’t.

On the other hand, I do see people who are otherwise very closed using it to express themselves and grow. It’s easy to say “yes, but at what cost? That’s not ‘growth’ to me” but who am I to judge?

Some people smoke or drink to deal with their anxiety. Some people binge TV shows to avoid their problems and worries. There’s a lot of poison to be had in our world. There’s a lot of holier-than-thou attitudes about what vices are “ok”. It’s a lot of shallow moralizing in the end, IMO.

I just have a script delete everything except my latest N tweets/posts/whatever.

I think there is an opportunity for a new perspective here...a positive one. Once you realize that all you're seeing is a highlight real on these social platforms and move past that I think there is a great opportunity to be a good friend, family, community member. Let others you follow know you are happy for them and the things they felt were important enough to capture and share with you and their audience via their profiles/accounts. Click like and leave supportive comments and turn social media into a positive! I have found the more I celebrate with others and interact in positive ways that it is reciprocated and strengths relationships.

> Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you're competing with other in gaining professional influence.

Interestingly, as someone who uses Twitter for a purely anonymous psychological outlet, I do not feel this at all. Instead, I find it a place of earnest concern and solidarity—when not plagued by trolls.

Yes and even if you might have made the mental leap to overcome the need to compete, you might still have some sense of desire you need to have this and that as well. Like a benchmark metric.

I've quit Facebook and I can only confirm: nothing magical happens. At least I feel a bit better and feel less social pressure to accord to certain standards/do certain things.

For a long time I thought LinkedIn is super essential and it would be complete non-sense to quit it. But I'm barely in contact with people I connected with there. Especially I rarely connect with recruiters because this would just be too much noise - of course I write them though. But now I start wondering, there are dedicated career websites and it's anyhow much better to apply for jobs one actually likes - instead of just saying yes or no to what recruiters think is the best idea.

> On Instagram, you're competing with others on who has the happiest life.

I think we can all agree, that happy people of Instagram are very very sad. Else they will be busy being happy not hunting likes.

>Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you're competing with other in gaining professional influence.

Unless its some useful info like a new research paper or some official announcement, I would reject everything on Twitter as some ill-thought opinion.

> It creates a lot of anxiety that stems from a feeling like you're constantly on the verge of falling behind others.

Try teamblind. Worst of the worst. On a serious note, a bit of competition is not really a bad thing. So you can simply choose how anxious to feel about it.

Upvote mad on this. This is exactly what I have been saying to all of my friends who quitted social media. One of aspects was also the narrow view social media creates for bipolarizing spectrum of one's opinions using extremistic news and probably fakes news.

To be fair, I think you can get the “competition” phenomenon anywhere. I always read people’s blogs about programming and internships and feel like no matter how much I do, I’ll always be behind. So it’s possible that it’s not a social media-only thing.

Something's wrong with this era. Super subtly wrong.

Has it been the case that so many ~innovations things become quickly a problem, that you need another thing to use it safely, and when you happen to stop well, you don't miss it.

I see no problem with informal competition on social media. The really skilled underwater photographers get way more likes on Facebook than my lame pictures do. So from that perspective I'm losing. But I've learned and improved my technique a lot from following those experts.

I quit social media two years ago, and while I think I am generally happier and less anxious, I am also left out. When everyone else has seen someone's new baby pictures or a picture from the summit of a mountain. Sadly, I am growing apart from my friends faster.

> When everyone else has seen someone's new baby pictures or a picture from the summit of a mountain

Did you just say you like seeing pictures of other people's babies ?

When its people I genuinely know and have a relationship with, yes. Its pretty fascinating to see the evolution of the lives and families of my friends and acquaintances.

It is fun to see pictures of babies that I know! Now that our baby sleeps 8+ hours a night (6 months old) I also laugh to myself that I am glad we are past those sleepless nights!

In real life you also compete with people on just about anything - that's what gossip is about and it's what these services captured.

The most problematic thing imho is that all of these online "competitions" are relatively easily hackable.

>> In real life you also compete with people on just about anything - that's what gossip is about and it's what these services captured.

You cannot compare the scale at which real life interactions work to that of social media interactions.

You have to be in a place where you're grounded, secure, so you can self-regulate where social media becomes a tool you aren't or won't become dependant on, addicted to.

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” - Horace

> forcing you to constantly evaluate how you compare to others.

Doesn't that start with schooling very early in life though. What does that specifically do with social media. Maybe schools are different in America.

I see that as a positive thing though. Most of the career tricks I've learned has been from social media. I dislike everything else (anger, protests, distractions), but this is the one thing I'd like to keep.

Do you feel the competitive nature is self-imposed? Do you care if the Jane Doe is living the dream on her Instagram?

I think it's you, and I don't mean that in a snarky way. Of course I'm happy if I make a post (here or on Twitter) that gets a the occasional huge response with lots of engagement, but mostly because it's brought attention to whatever issue it was that I cared about. I have a relatively small number of Twitter followers but I don't really care. The only thing that annoys me is that Twitter's algorithm does a bad job both at supplying posts from the people I most want to follow and at getting my posts to the people who want to follow me for whatever reason; when a post of mine blows up, it seems to be due to the number of people looking at the topic rather than because I can consistently expect it to reach most of my followers.

Thing is I'm just not a very competitive person, or a very social one. I have a small clique of quite close friendships and a larger pool of people I know and like but relate to in a pretty casual manner. Maybe my lack of competitive instinct is inherent, or maybe it has to do with having been 'extremely online' for ~30 years and just not caring as much. I'm far more preoccupied with understanding the dynamics of social media interactions than I with exploiting them (in conventional ways).

tl;dr I think people relate to social media in quite different ways depending on personality type.

Its easy for me to control my social media usage because I am unpopular.

It’s an anxious quest for difference in environments where it is banished.

And on HN you are competing for the top comment.

I used to use Twitter. My country's political news and related commentary usually got me into a mental state of frustration and misanthropy.

I deleted Twitter. Political news still frustrate me but I rarely see them anymore. Ignorance is bliss. I've effectively created a safe space where political idiocy can't cognitively harass me.

Is it wrong to be so uninformed? I don't know. I think a lot about it and I haven't come to a satisfactory conclusion. By being uninformed I'm somewhat unable to fight against the "wrong" opinions, but maybe if I was informed my opinions wouldn't change a thing anyway.

My mental health is better off just accepting any idiotic laws my country passes instead of trying to "protest" (in the most useless sense of the word: tweeting about it) against them, for the most part.

> Is it wrong to be so uninformed?

Are you sure that you are uninformed? Do you think that trends on twitter reflect meaningful news that you wont pick up through other means? Could it be possible that by spending time on twitter you might not be becoming informed, but rather misinformed?

Most news isn't even actionable. If you feel like you're a bad person if you're not paying attention to the news, it means you're listening to the wrong news. Focus on bigger picture issues. Give precedence to numbers and detailed analyses. If it's still keeping you down, then just turn it off because it's wasting your time and draining your life force.

This is doubly true for social media:

"I do not mean to imply that television news deliberately aims to deprive Americans of a coherent, contextual understanding of their world. I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result. And in saying that the television news show entertains but does not inform, I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed."

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business"

I think newspapers are the best—say you get a daily or even weekly summary of events. That’s been good enough for centuries.

The problem today is all the rehashing of events. Professional journalists honestly do a better job than all the rest of us.

Internet information is mostly garbage (where social media is concerned). Don’t get me wrong the quick access to information is nice—but ”quick” means “less thought out” for the majority of readers and writers.

Does anyone do weekly news summaries? A weekly digest might be something worth paying for, even the nightly news bulletins on TV seem to assume you've watched the morning ones and won't tell you about something that happened at 3AM. Back when I was still reading newspapers even the weekend ones were pretty much only reporting the news of the day and not a weekly summary.

Annoyingly news is also stuck in the document model from newspapers, every little update has to repeat all the background information under the assumption that people didn't read the previous articles. Even worse is when they update the same articles so you have no idea of what you've read and what you haven't.

On a related note, I've removed the distraction of personal email notifications from my life recently and become more organised as a result. When I check every day or two it's at a convenient time where I can actually pay that bill or at least move it to the bills folder, or unsubscribe from that piece of spam instead of just swiping it away. Turns out one of the killer apps that made me get my first smartphone a decade ago has been making my life worse.

Edit - I did some googling of weekly news and it seems like just about everything with weekly in the title is live updating and/or not news.

Edit 2 - for Australians I found a twice daily news subscription from the ABC: https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/alerts/ . It's not exactly what I wanted but with an email filter it might be workable.

I'm a big fan of the Quartz Daily Brief email newsletter [1]. (Although these are daily emails.)

[1] https://qz.com/emails/

I've genuinely wanted to launch this for myself. For what it's worth my wife has The Skimm and it does a reasonable job of being unbiased and presenting many sides of a story with plenty of context.It's daily but I still think it accomplishes most of what you're probably looking for.

Even better, newspapers often benefit from having a couple hours at least between when the story breaks and when it goes into print for at least rudimentary sanity checks on the details.

It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it's very handy in scenarios like mass shootings where seemingly every one has initial reports of "multiple gunmen" only to have that evaporate within a few hours.

I used to "protest" and then the country overwhelming voted for the authoritarian far-right party. I shifted to apathy and it is truly liberating.

uh hilary won the popular vote

and far right really? did your life change at all? whats that make china then? what about the far left policing everyone on what they can say and do?

youre getting caught up in the news narrative

have you considered that this had nothing to do with the USA?

I did the same, about 18 months ago. It's a definite improvement in my mental health.

I choose not to see it as uninformed, but informed in more focused ways. Most of the news we see doesn't actually matter, there is no action to be taken by the individual. By filtering that out you can focus on things important to you, where you can take action. Family, work, local community if you're inclined.

I'm going to adopt this strategy. If you follow politics people will demand you pick a side which they can then use to attack you. If you just pretend to be stupid, it's harder for them to find an opening. Plus, pretending to be stupid is a lot easier than pretending to be smart, so it'll save energy. What I really need to do is stop posting on Silicon Valley gossip boards.

I would argue you're potentially better informed. Better to be ignorant than know a half truth devoid of context skewed for an agenda and that's what most of politics on social media is anyways.

> I used to use Twitter. My country's political news and related commentary usually got me into a mental state of frustration and misanthropy.

For this same reason, I've separate accounts on Twitter. I'm not averse to political stuff but mixing it with things you like can make Twitter extremely toxic. From my primary account, I don't follow any Politician, Celebrity etc. I just follow developers and few other people who are doing what I'm interested in.

I find it so weird that society equates news consumption with being informed. In this era especially, news seems to be mostly opinion pieces about trivial events. I'd wager that those actively abstaining from the news have a better grip on the events impacting them and the world in general than those who are trying to stay up-to-date 24/7 on Twitter, or cable news, or any information fire-hose of your choice.

IMO it's better to read real-time Reddit threads when something is happening; it's usually unfiltered and you can get raw data, not the curated ones from mainstream news once propagandists from all sides plug in and offer only selective evidence.

I would argue against this, especially if you're in specific subreddits, it's usually heavily biased. Even if you're reading articles from /r/worldnews or /r/news, there's usually a general sentiment, and popular opinions that validate those sentiments get upvoted.

I personally can't stand reading the comments, since every comment is either a meme or something irrelevant.

Redit live threads on major world events aren't tied to a subreddit. They report developing stories from many sources.

> Is it wrong to be so uninformed?

I wouldn't say it's wrong, but I would say it is an expression of privilege. People who don't find their race, gender or identity regularly being touted as either some up and coming new social fad or the boogeyman to a given group that oppose them and the source of everything evil in the world or what have you can pretty safely disconnect from the discourse with no real ramifications to their lives.

So again, no I wouldn't say it's wrong, and hell, I have to disconnect occasionally too simply to keep my sanity. But I also say that from a similar position of privilege. I don't have lawmakers attempting to restrict my rights, my gender and race aren't an oppressed group. But, exercising privileges doesn't make you a bad person in my book so long as you're not fighting to maintain those privileges at the expense of others.

Getting tweets that make you emotionally upset isn't furthering any groups rights minority or otherwise. If you want to make a real difference you need to get out and connect with local political forces.

Twitter can make you feel like you are making a difference. If you can only share this with one more person maybe my rights won't abused. It is distracting you from making that difference.

Making a difference takes hard work.

It wasn’t until I quit social media that I found time to get engaged locally. Joined the board of a nonprofit, spoke with my council people, started becoming engaged in other community orgs and attending zoning and policy hearings. If you have political drive, staying away from the timeline as an outlet of that energy can be liberating.

I wouldn't call it privilege. I think it's more about accepting that there's nothing they can do to change the course of events. Whether they add their voice or not to Twitter discussions, it won't change people's opinions.

There are many rights under attack. They are rights all of us share and with them being stripped or changed we all lose. The GP is avoiding discussions about those rights as well.

I've also done what the GP has done. It's not because the decisions that are made don't affect me, but that past experience has shown me that what I think is irrelevant to the outcome. Yet paying such attention to these topics just weighs on me and negatively impacts my life.

Disconnecting from people trying to push a so called 'culture war' on the general populous seems like a rational choice - as a white male, social media seems to tell me emphatically that I am the problem. Similarly social media pundits from the other side are trying to blame all measure of economic and social ills on brown people/gay people/trans people.

Both narratives are patently false.

To touch very lightly on politics, we blame the poor for being poor, and the marginalized for being marginalized - the so called 'culture war' (and the outrage on both sides) is just another round of 'circuses and bread' to distract us from real issues and prevent any real change from happening.

I’m LGBTQ, and I am not a federally protected class. It is legal to fire me for my identity in many states, and the current republicans in power are continuing to make it legal and condoned to discriminate against LGBTQ people at the federal level- rolling back several policies that benefited marginalized folks along this umbrella. These changes happen with very little fanfare or any notification safe for observant reporters and the spread of social media.

I find this comment overtly dismissing that there might be very real, legitimate reasons to be keyed into social media and the news.

I'm also LGBTQ - and I believe effectively we're being used a pawn to score points with the conservative base. Employment protections I believe do very little, because in most states you can fire someone for any reason, or no reason at all. It's a law that effectively only punishes stupid people.

I find that catching up on what’s going on once every week or so provides enough information to make the decisions I can. Social media, in contrast, serves up a sub 24 hour news cycle that prevents focus and produces emotional exhaustion and constant anxiety.

I’m sure there are people for whom it’s valuable (e.g. if immigration raids could affect you directly), but for members of most groups, being plugged in all time probably does more harm than good.

And I am simply arguing that that is not always the case and the original statement, that it is a privilege to be able to unplug from news and social media, may be true given that I as an LGBTQ person often feel the need to keep abreast of new and rarely-covered updates to local and federal policy that are associated with LGBTQ issues. For example, the department of labor moving through fairly recently to make it legal for federal contractors to fire LGBTQ or unmarried pregnant women on the grounds of religious beliefs.

Did you change anything about your behavior immediately when you found that out?

I’m saying the high proportion of button-pushing click-bait and the low probability that I need any particular info in real time means i’ll be better off getting news through other sources.

You don’t win a war by maximizing fear, outrage, and low quality info on your own side (which, IMO, social media does).

YMMV, obviously. What do I know?

> Did you change anything about your behavior immediately when you found that out?

Yes. I removed any involvement with LGBTQ organizations off my resume.

That sucks. I’m sorry you have to deal with that shit.

So far, I haven’t run into any “shit, if only I had known that five days ago!” situations. I doubt I ever will, no matter how hostile the current administration is to women. But who knows; you pays your money and you takes your choice.

well a problem is that lgbtq doesnt belong together anyway because what are you fighting for? sexual orientation or gender identity? those are really different and are people really being fired for it?

> what are you fighting for?

Simple: Freedom to be who the fuck you are. I don't know why that's so damned difficult to understand.

Wow. Was that really needed?

>are really different and are people really being fired for it?

Absolutely not. The nice thing about being LGBTQPA+* is all the constitutional lawyers that will take your case pro-bono to persecute anyone you can speculatively accuse of discerning something about you.

If you are straight then there is basically no such free help available to protect your rights, and have fun trying to bring something up to the supreme court all by yourself if you don't want to be forced to express homophilic opinions.

Actually, as I said, it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in much of the country and the federal government had recently rolled back protections for LGBTQ people. Lawyers are not going to take pro bono cases because LGBTQ status is not constitutionally or federally protected.


I'm curious where in the US Constitution you think it states that discrimination on the basis of LGBTQ identity is legal.

The question is about changing federal law to make LGBTQ identity a protected class, under the same principle that race, gender, religion, etc are currently protected.

The first amendment.

The first amendment protects the right to fire someone on the basis of their LGBTQ identity?

Care to give any example of this happening?

Yes. This is a case the supreme court refused to hear in 2017 of a woman who claims to have been fired for being a lesbian. https://www.newsweek.com/jameka-evans-lgbt-workplace-discrim...

Here is a case in 2014 of a man who was fired because his new manager went through his phone and found male gymnast photos. https://www.npr.org/2014/11/10/363049315/for-people-fired-fo...

Here are 5 more examples: https://www.mic.com/articles/11738/5-people-who-were-fired-f...

That links to a study citing that american LGBTQ people experience much higher rates of workplace discrimination: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2011/06/02...

None of which the recently rolled back protections would fix had they occurred while the protections were in place as they only applied to the federal government. You can't guarantee a civil right with an executive order.

That was not the requested ask.

I suspect that the LGBTQ people in these cases must have really done something that broke the law in these cases. In the news just the other day there were TWO gay lawyers who defended a gay person PRO BONO who murdered two kids in a school with 100 witnesses just because he said those kids teased him for being gay (though witnesses said no such thing ever happened).

Just as a minor correction: Nobody is telling you that you specifically are the problem. The problem is that as a white male, what is called "western society" was built with you as the presumed default, and that confers to you tons of small benefits that fall into one of two categories:

1) Unfair advantages that allow you certain freedoms other groups don't have, that one could argue no one should have

2) Advantages that everyone should have, but due to being ethnic or female, they don't.

The best example I usually have for this is that when I'm pulled over by a cop for speeding, I'm annoyed to be sure and it's going to be a really bad inconvenience and probably a fair financial burden too. But I don't fear for my life. I'm not panicking on whether or not my vehicle will be searched or if the officer might plant something on me. That's not to say those things can't happen, but it's intrinsically not on my mind at all, even though it could. And those things happen to other groups all the time.

Doesn't it strike you as odd to suggest that society was built for "white" males when such classification, as a meaningful indicator, didn't even exist until extremely recently? Irish, German, Italian, and many more are all groups today you'd just often just refer to as "white males." In times past? People who were very much second class citizens. And it went well beyond just national origin. Protestant vs Catholic was a huge deal and this also persisted until extremely recently. For instance something lost to history is how monumental JFK's election was because of the fact that he was a Catholic - the Obama of his time. Incidentally the first and last Catholic elected, even though more than 20% of America is Catholic.

Even when you get into things like slavery, Africans were not enslaved because they were black. Slavery was global and of course always began as in group - whites enslaving whites, browns enslaving browns, blacks enslaving blacks, etc. The big reason that "white" on "white" slavery ended was because of a shared religion and Christian church declaring it illegal for any Christian to enslave another Christian (in times before the schisms, such as 'Christian' was reasonably encompassing). The "problem" this posed for those seeking slaves is that tremendous empires were starting to form around the world.

For instance in the ~18th century you're looking at the Qing dynasty in China, the Mughal Empire in South Asia, the Ottoman empire in the Mideast, etc.. The world was rapidly unifying under incredibly powerful empires who were more than capable of protecting their borders and people. But Africa was a major exception. It not only lacked both meaningful unification and technology, but also had a thriving domestic slave trade. This made them a prime target. It had nothing to do with the color of their skin. Had Africans happened to have had a bit less melanin, but the situation remained otherwise identical, it's extremely improbable that things would have changed in any way whatsoever.

If you're not at least mildly afraid of the cops when being pulled over, you're not paying attention. My whiteness (in my opinion) does very little for me in a situation with such a large power imbalance.

“...ethnic or female.”

It’s funny to me that you’re treating white here as the “presumed default.” White people have ethnicities, just like midwestern newscasters have accents.

Those things are on my mind as well, why are you just assuming they aren't?

If you're going to say that Western society was built with white males as the presumed default, you might want to also mention who the builders were.

And as a broader point, it also might be worth considering how Western society stacks up against all other societies to ever exist.

Except that Western civilization as in the minds of it's inhabitants likely wouldn't have existed without the subjugation and exploitation of those other societies, including but not limited to: China, India, the Middle East, most of Africa minus Ethiopia, and even some parts of Europe, and much more recently, South America.

The West has largely won because it won a lot back in the day, and that inertia builds up and continues to favor us.

> The West has largely won because it won a lot back in the day, and that inertia builds up and continues to favor us.

FWIW, Japan went from a feudal society to a world dominating power in the span of like 60 years. China has done something similar in the last 50 years. Whereas countries right next door in SE Asia have not made any similar progress. I'd say that's all pretty contradictory evidence for the hypothesis that the reason the West is doing well now is because it has done well in the past.

Also, your focus on European colonization is extremely Eurocentric and kind of strips non-Europeans of their agency. The rest of the world existed and had stuff going on before the Europeans became sea-faring nations. The Arabs conquered most of the Middle East in the late first millennium and later colonized part of Europe. Then the Turks took their place several centuries later and almost successfully invaded Europe (actually, they successfully invaded Constantinople, which was part of Christendom; present day Turkey used to be Christian territory). The Chinese have been a civilization for something like 2500-3000 years. The Indian subcontinent has an extremely ancient civilization and parts of it were colonized by Muslims well before Europeans even knew it existed.

And, finally, how does this theory of European Colonialism being the most important world event that ever happened explain differences in outcomes between the U.S. and Canada on one hand and, say, Brazil and Mexico on the other? All four countries were colonized by Europeans, after all.

>> The Arabs conquered most of the Middle East in the late first millennium and later colonized part of Europe... Then the Turks took their place several centuries later and almost successfully invaded Europe (actually, they successfully invaded Constantinople, which was part of Christendom; present day Turkey used to be Christian territory).<<


Moreover, the Maghreb, the Levant and Asia Minor (North Africa, East Mediterranean coastal countries and Turkey today) were inarguably "Western" (Roman, Greek, Phoenician and Judean) before the Arab and Turkic invasions.

Bantu peoples were sold as slaves for millennia, until late into the 20th century, from the east coast of Africa by Somalis to Arabs and Indians. Muslim Barbary piracy (from the Tunisian and Moroccan coast) terrorized and devastated European coastal towns for centuries. There are entire extinct populations from the Baltic region who were literally sold down the Volga River to Muslim Turks and on into the Middle East, who were particularly valued for their blond hair and pale skin. There are surviving populations of pale people (whom most Americans would classify as "White") still suffering from the effects of their ancestors having suffered genocide and slavery, some at the hands of slavers who would be considered "People of Color" today.

No. The idea of slavery and genocide being a sin, of being morally wrong, is a recent Western idea that is not even today a universal, global cultural value. If "sins of the Father" is actually a thing, then it spectacularly makes no sense to divide the world into "White" (descendants of slavers and colonizers) and "People of Color" (descendant of slaves and colonized).

While such a division might arguably be a reasonable case to make given specifically US History, attempting to impose this racial world view on other cultures and nations is yet another example of the very American cultural imperialism that these same people decry.

There is no realistic scenario where one civilization does not dominate others.

Macro-history is fundamentally about the rise and fall of civilizations - the undesirable elements of this are consistent, but Western tradition and enlightenment has also given us democracy and science, and put us in a collective position where we are so relatively prosperous that we can look at the past with an inflated sense of shame.

Failing to see how this is responsive to parent’s observation that white privilege is a thing.

Maybe you’re arguing that if the enlightenment never happened we wouldn’t have the set of egalitarian political values that cause us to give a shit about that. But even if that argument were true: the enlightenment did happen and we do care. And you’re not really articulating any reason we shouldn’t.

I was just giving their observation some context.

To address the idea of white privilege directly: - It's increasing racial awareness and conflict. - It's a blunt instrument that doesn't take into account the myriad of circumstances each individual faces (such as financial wealth, mental health and physical height).

To provide a counter example to parent's, I'd rather be a rich ethnic minority unfairly stopped by a cop, than an ethnic majority person living in a trailer park and addicted to meth. The ethnic bigotry in this example isn't excused, but it's not the main concern.

Perhaps, all else being equal, one could argue that 'white privilege' matters.

But all else will never be equal. And the one place where equality really matters, it already exists - the law.

Notions of privilege could at least attempt a full accounting at the individual level, rather than dictating in broad strokes.

Slave labor built this country.

There's an extremely interesting datum that most are not familiar with. In total in the transatlantic slave trade, about 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. Of these, 10.7 million survived the voyage. And of those, about 388,000 thousand went to North America. [1] Up to 60-70k more would make their way North America eventually for a total of up to ~450k - about 4% of the slaves that made their way to the New World.

North America's use of slavery was relatively low compared to many other places in the world. Even within the United States itself it's interesting to compare the states where slaves disproportionately ended up to those where they did not. And the Confederate/Union states works as a pretty solid proxy there.

- Confederate: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas

- Union: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and many others.

Suffice to say, slavery does not seem have had a lasting positive effect for the states that most actively utilized it. Ultimately I think the reason slavery is more of a focus for the United States than other countries is not because of any unusual usage of slavery, but because of an extremely unusual outcome.

For instance Brazil alone ended up taking on about 5 million slaves yet, like much of the south, has little to show for it. The point of this is not to say 'what about other countries' but to emphasize that the relative impact of slavery in the US was smaller than in many other places, yet we achieved vastly more than those places. So to attribute the exceptionalism of the United States to slavery, in any meaningful way, seems driven more by bias than logic.


No it didn't. When it was legal, most inhabitants of the U.S. had no personal experience with slavery. It was critical to agriculture in the Southern states, but the North was the industrial powerhouse. And the states that constituted the North continue to be the most dominant region in the U.S. to this day.

I don't see how such sweeping statements about the nature of a country are useful.

Slave labor was only one component of practically all great countries/empires. The West was the first to outlaw it.

The US in particular was built upon the hard-earned lessons of the past, including the moral worth of individual liberty.

How is the US in particular built upon the hard-earned lessons of the past. Because it is younger?

This just sounds like more American exceptionalism that most of the world is tired of, and that includes many Americans.

The counterpoint to your second sentence is that most of the world would sacrifice much to migrate to the US.

Most of the world is poor, and would like the chance to earn more money. That's nothing special about the US there. The same applies to most rich countries.

Fine: USA, #1 when compared to developing nations.

Got an answer to my first sentence?

One example - the US Constitution draws from Ancient Greece and Rome, and is a response to the oppression of European monarchies.

Louis XIV: "I am the state." US Constitution: "We the people...secure the Blessings of Liberty"

That's no cosmetic difference.

Sure, that was a big deal in 1776. But there's nothing exceptional about being a liberal democracy today, and there are plenty of countries that are more free than the US.

> Nobody is telling you that you specifically are the problem.

They very much are. I'm guessing you don't live in a coastal city or read the newspaper of record?

no thats not what privilege is, you can turn off social media too, youre not forced to listen to anything

and youre showing the problem with the news because theres really not that much going on. who is losing their rights? what oppression are you talking about?

Of course the ramifications hit me, just like everyone else. Why do you think I get upset about the news?. The question is whether I should accept those negative ramifications or spend energy protesting against them.

I wouldn't care about politics at all if I didn't think I and/or other people were being fucked over.

If you have any political opinion at all, then at some point you'll think that you or others are being treated unfairly by society or by the state. Isn't that the whole point of expressing political opinions?

Counterpoint: Having the free time and energy to participate in culture war theatrics is a much greater expression of privilege.

If you're doing something productive, though, good on ya.

Well actually we are all victims of the lawmakers as noone dares to punish the CO2 polluters. All this talk of privilege is meaningless compared to what we will all have to endure if we keep destroying our enviroment like that.

You can still follow politics through Reuters or the Associated Press, which shouldn't contain inflammatory language -- they're about as neutral as you can come by.

you can just unfollow politics on twitter. I don't see any in my feed and i aggressively unfollow people who think it's funny to retweet their political opinions to my face. Twitter also insists on telling me to follow random politicians but no, i resist! But yeah, if you take social media so seriously that they affect your mentah health, better quit

When I quit I ended up reading books and watching TV for entertainment. I literally read over a million words of fiction (Worm) in one month with the spare time.

It was a lot more fulfilling, and I'll remember that time. While in contrast there are few social media moments I'll miss.

I had to actually force myself to get back into social media. I'm not sure what the author here means by withdrawal; there was maybe a period of 1 week trying to get back in, but it was over quickly.

One big thing that happened was the number of consulting contracts went down significantly and never recovered. I'm quite Facebook active and used to get two interview offers a month. In fact last month I got a huge opportunity that I would have gladly accepted if I wasn't committed to anything else.

I'd be happy if social media was just wiped out and we went back to socializing on forums and IRC.

The web serial Worm is amazing. The sequel, Ward, is really far along now and is even better IMO. You can catch up on https://www.parahumans.net/

The HN crowd would probably really like Worm in general. Basically a sci-fi superhero story with realistic uses of powers and complex characters. The protagonist has the powers of insect control and scalable multitasking.

I found the squeal hard to start because it was a struggle to remember how worm left off-- the end of worm was a real whirlwind, and I read it around the time it finished IIRC.

Good plot summaries of Worm to catch you up (Spoilers for Worm!):



You can skip the Glow Worm part of Ward if you want, it's bonus chapters for people who like reading really deeply.

I read Worm and hated it. So here's a strong anti-recommendation for anyone who's considering reading it.

For reference, Worm is divided into 30 arcs, of roughly 50,000 words each. I divide this into a few major sections.

Arcs 1-3: Taylor (the main character) gains her superpowers, learns to use them, and joins a team. She struggles a bit with hiding her new powers from her family. This is the only part of the story I thought was any good. By the end of this section, Taylor completes her metamorphosis from awkward teenageer into standardized rationalfic protagonist, and generally stops being an interesting character.

Arcs 4-20: Taylor and her team do typical cape stuff, mostly fighting various superpowered opponents, finding allies, and building influence in their home city. This was tolerable until I realized that the author is constitutionally incapable of letting his protagonists take any kind of meaningful loss. This section is a million words long and has no substantial consequences.

Arcs 21-27: I may have gotten the exact cutoff wrong, but somewhere around arc 20, there's an event that looks like it's going to cause a major shift in the story. Unfortunately, those major changes generally fail to materialize. This section is more of the same, though a bit more tolerable due to the novelty of having a bunch of new characters running around.

Arcs 28-29: Again, I'm probably off by an arc or two, but around arc 27, there's another big event. This time, there are some big changes to the story, but they're largely for the worse. All logic goes out the window, and the consequences of the big event are almost entirely ignored, in favor of buildup for the big finale.

Arc 30: This is hands-down the worst ending I have ever read in any piece of fiction. The climactic fight scene is largely told, not shown, and the author utterly fails at conveying the intended epic scale. The worst part of all, I'll omit due to spoilers, but in short, certain details of the battle make the previous 6,000 pages look like a complete and total waste of the reader's time.

There were two reasons I stuck with Worm for the full 1,600,000 words, in spite of its main plotline being dreadfully repetitive and boring. First, the interlude chapters, which explore backstories of side characters and the nature of superpowers, I thought were generally decent. And second, I was expecting all of Taylor's team's politicking and base-building to pay off eventually. (I had previously read Austraeoh, where I slogged through the million words of books 2-4, and it was worth it due to the excellent book 6.) But I was utterly wrong on the second point, and the first alone is not sufficient to make Worm worth reading.

I don't know what you mean by no consequences.

Vague spoilers ahead ->>>>>>

People die, others get debilitating PTSD, her heroes and inspirations turn out to be terrible people, her relationships fail. Not to mention all the negative things that happen to her city and eventually the world. I think you are not picturing/feeling the desperation with which she tries to save what she thinks is meaningful. I think Taylor loses a lot and consequently grows as a person in many different ways. You can check this by reading her dialogue and though process in the first few arcs and then in the last few arcs.

Besides that, I forgive a serial author from a lack of depth and such into their novel. I think if and when someone pays the author some money to edit and publish the book, the final product will be a marvellous read.

Yeah, I heard about it from HN and glad I did. Might quit Facebook to read Ward.

As a user, not an employee, I hope ;).

"I'm not sure what the author here means by withdrawal"

An attention-getting pull quote, I guess. I found the physical symptoms claim hilarious. "non [sic] unlike those seen in individuals quitting opiods"? Ha!

And that is the big danger: That there might be too many people not understanding what is going on and rely exclusively on (a)social media and that this destroys opportunity for the people who do not submit to FB's outrageous ways of handling personal data. Alone that people think, that anyone who is not on (a)social media, must be a recluse/oldschool/backwards and probably has some problem and is not worth talking to causes so much damage already.

People don't think about this about FB but LinkedIn is definitely a danger. LinkedIn has had similar bad privacy policies in the past (their app farmed contacts from my phone without asking). But these days more and more places are asking for your LI instead of your resume.

This write-up really ends up understating the benefits and "magical" things that actually did happen, but I fully approve of the understated approach. Hyping everything up is part of the problem. If something is beneficial, I shouldn't need to sell you on it; I can just tell you about it, and you can decide. (In fact it's almost an intrusion into your free will when I start persuading you, and it betrays some vested interest on my part.) That's why you don't brag about quitting social media. And why you quit social media in the first place is a related example of the same thing: If I'm a worthwhile and valid human being, I shouldn't need to sell you on me, and maintain this continual online sales platform for the "me" product. You can discover it on your own and maybe reach the conclusion that I'm awesome, or maybe not, but either way it's fine. Zen, baby. (I think the meditation helped more than he realizes LOL)

> If I'm a worthwhile and valid human being, I shouldn't need to sell you on me, and maintain this continual online sales platform for the "me" product. You can discover it on your own and maybe reach the conclusion that I'm awesome, or maybe not, but either way it's fine.

Presuming that you aren't the type of person who spends all their time out in public giving talks or something, how are you expecting people to "discover" you? By chasing links from your work? By just bumping into you in the grocery store?

I'm pretty sure I'm a worthwhile human being, but, y'know, I'd like to have friends, and I'd especially like to have friends that share interests with me, and are doing interesting things themselves. And I don't live in a place where those type of people are. So it'd be great if those friends found me... probably through the Internet. And how do I encourage that to happen? Well...

(None of which is to say that there's any reason to consume social media. Only to publish to it. Though that creates a funny Nash equilibrium...)

Sure, I'm not saying it has no use case. If anything it sounds like you're using it for one of the classic things computers are used for - essentially creating data so others can run a query on it like any other CRUD app. The part I like a whole lot less is basically the part that's been there ever since we entered Eternal September!

Frankly I'm a little bored at these "quit social media" articles. They look sort of all the same to me. Quitting altogether is simple, because there's only one way to do it; quitting altogether. Moderation, on the other hand, is more interesting because there are a number of ways to moderate its use; not just limiting time but also limiting use cases. I'd like to know more about the latter.

Sometimes quitting something entirely is necessary to finally see, in relief, the place that it occupied in your life. After that balance is possible.

I just use one platform (one where you are allowed to use a pseudonym), so that way I'm never sucked in too much, but I have some way to keep up with/contact people, so it's not annoying.

I suppose I’m using it moderately by using some quasi social platforms like HN.

"I feel by far less distracted. My attention span feels more robust than it ever has."

I would consider this magical.

The author is playing the /r/mildlyinteresting card. /r/mildlyinteresting succeeded where /r/interesting did not because it tempered the expectations of visitors. People expecting a 10x productivity gain because they quit social media will surely be disappointed.

10x? Sure, no.

But 1.1x? That's possible and still quite substantial.

It’s magical only in contrast to the individual in the grips of a social media addiction. I’m about 30 and can remember a time before social media, so it feels more like a return to normal to me.

Why's that?

As a side note, a hobby/hack I've found recently has really helped me decrease screen time.

I need to work a lot due to job circumstances, so I thought I could not afford screen off time.

But one thing I picked up is writing in a notebook. I realized that a lot of work, regardless of where you are on the totem, is planning ahead. Writing in a notebook for both work and personal introspection is very therapeutic and really helps me to focus and crystalize my thoughts. I've also bundled this with my work out sessions to pre-plan what I want to pontificate about. The general process has both helped decrease my screen time, increase my work productivity, and help me sleep better because I know that my frayed thoughts are on paper.

Social media is about getting attention via free, easy to use, and highly distributed platforms. It has _very little_ to do with being social or staying in touch with friends and _everything_ with being a mini media business with the goal of growing your following and influence enough to make money (somehow). Social media is simply a free performance.

Unless you're building a personal brand or selling something the work required to achieve growth it doesn't make sense for most people.

You're better off making group chats and using private iCloud Photos albums to be _social_ than posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


I'm using social media to build a personal brand and raise my professional profile. None of my personal life makes it into any of the channels I publish to.

What about Facebook Events? We use it in our extended group of friends all the time for private events.

I've been off Facebook for about a year now as well... Lets see the effects have been, a lot less options for dating, lost communication with a ton of various car parts companies and tuners (I was into a lot of car hobbies for a while), and overall I feel more alone then I did when I was on Facebook.

But this is an honest way to live, I used to just sit there and scroll through other peoples lives peering through them as if I was somehow a part of whatever they were doing. It was a fake reality.

Out of that loneliness comes the fuel to change how you handle your life. Eventually you’ll want to avoid it by interacting with humans in real life, which is normal and healthy.

I think this posts discussion of “why do we take photos” is really great and deserves more consideration. I’ve not had any form of social media account for over 8 years and something I notice is that I just take waaay fewer photos than everyone else I know. A few on vacation or when I see something stupid I can turn into a pun or a joke. Seriously maybe 3-5 photos per month.

I love living this way and consider it healthy and normal for a wide variety of people in most modern life circumstances. I think the need to take dozens of photos of vacation/meal/baby/lifestyle is seriously a universally bad mental state for humans, and one that people will stubbornly try in vain to argue is somehow acceptable or ok.

If sitting is the new smoking, then social media photo sharing is the new vaping.

This is interesting, because I do not have social media but take a TON of pictures and videos of my kids (4 years old and 4.months old).... I send some to family via group texts, but most just sit on my phone/computer/cloud until I look at them.

I take so many for a few reasons. One, I think they are crazy cute and want to take pictures and videos when I see them doing cute things. Two, my 4 year old loves looking at them... she wants to see videos of herself all the time, and cracks up seeing herself as a baby.

Three, I don't do a baby book but want to be able to remember how they were at these ages when they are older. It is already trippy/fun to look at pictures and videos of my daughter at 4 months and compare them to her baby brother now. It is fun to watch old videos and see the first bits and pieces of the kid I love now.

99% of the pictures and videos haven't been looked at by anyone but me and my daughter, but I am SO glad I have them.

I’m sure that your use case for so many photos is fine and just rooted in your family’s specific hobbies in a way that social media image sharing totally isn’t.

At the same time though, I think a ton of people use the excuse “because KIDS” to justify all manner of things. Just because kids enjoy something doesn’t in any way endorse it as constructive, healthy or a good or worthwhile habit or activity.

What’s your backup strategy? I’m paranoid of losing my pictures. I have one regular backup drive, one offsite backup drive I sync once a week and several cloud backups.

I am also paranoid... I copy all the photos to my computer hard drive every few days, and use backblaze to back up my hard drive. I also have a local backup drive.

I also periodically upload archives of my photos and videos to Amazon glacier

I actually think there are two main camps here: people who take photos to share to their followers, and people who take photos for their own recollection and to share with the people closest to them (e.g. family photo albums).

I totally agree that the former is toxic and damages our mental health in many ways, like a digital version of smoking and vaping.

I recently launched a tool for our generation to manage and maintain a healthy relationship with social media - it moves away from the current trend of superficiality that exists on FB and IG right now.

I'd super appreciate if you all checked it out and let me know what you think! https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20933272

I think your tool is very cool and building tools for recreational image libraries is super neat. But I can’t agree with you that “a healthy relationship with social media” is a possible state of affairs apart from wholesale avoidance of social media. There is simply too much asymmetry information advantage for platform maintainers (even in decentralized cases) for it to be possible.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by "asymmetry information advantage"?

Personally, I've used tons of social media services growing up - AIM, MSN Messenger, GChat, G+, Blogspot, FB, IG, etc. I think all of them have positive traits, at least had positive traits when they started out. I've also experienced a healthy balance between online relationships and in-personal relationships. I just think it's super critical for our generation to move back to platforms that are healthier and better for our mental and social wellbeing.

I think AIM / MSN Messenger etc. don’t remotely qualify as social media, but already it feels like we’re veering into unproductive debate. My position is that “healthy” and “social media” don’t mix. There is no positive subset of Facebook. The entire conceptual value proposition of the platform is unhealthy from first principles. It requires you to trust a provider with data in such a manner that this trust is, literally by definition, unobtainable. Just can’t be done. The type of draconian HIPAA-like legal framework (plus untold billions spent on enforcement & compliance) that represents the minimum requirement is just not compatible with the existence of a corporation that makes money from being a repository and sharing platform for this data.

As a person with aphantasia, I will not be able to remember what my children looked like, sounded like, or acted like growing up unless I have pictures and videos.

I don't think it's harmful for me to try to preserve some of that, since I don't have the neurological wiring to use my brain for that job.

Actually that condition seems fairly irrelevant to this discussion entirely. Nobody’s suggesting don’t take photos. Just that quantity, subject matter and frequency of public sharing are all affected very negatively by social media.

Taking dozens of photos of “instagram-worthy” restaurant meals or “lifestyle achievement” vacation photos has utterly nothing at all to do with an imagery recognition photo journal. These are the sorts of totally discardable, consumer excess images that even people without aphantasia cannot recall mental imagery or visual memory of since it occupies such a “one time use” or “share it and throw it away” position in social media behavior.

I thought you had said people ought to be as low-photo as you are in general, but on rereading it I see you did not say that.

Apologies for my misinterpretation.

Last photo I took was over a year ago. It was of my brothers dog licking its balls.

Good read, but this part seemed interestingly backward from my own experience: "You know what else is exhausting? Pretending to care about people you don’t give a shit about."

I've definitely been in situations where I had to pretend to care about people I don't give a shit about. They have been 100% in my face-to-face real life. On FB I'm perfectly allowed to care only minimally about the people I want to care minimally about, and unfriend or hide or block the people I actually don't give a shit about, and pay attention to the people I want to keep up with. At a party or an art opening or standing in line or whatever? It's harder to escape other people.

(Which is fine, of course, and good for us to sometimes engage in that way; it's just diametrically opposite from the author's pithy claim.)

I did it for a year too! deleted fb/insta/twitter accounts for a year.

a lot of good things happened. 1. Never bothered about taking photos for everyshit I did. 2. A lot of white space and time I got, to be empty. Not sure if I used them enough. But white space yes! 100% 3. I never grazed useless info off the feed.

in the middle of the year, i tried an experiment. created a twitter/fb accounts and followed some of the useful accounts. browsed for 1 hour. and then closed twitter/fb and tried to recollect all the info I gathered in this 1 hour. And trustme, it was huge. really huge.

X got married. Y had a job change. Z disappointment about something. A's vacation. B's witty remark on C.

then i immedietly deleted my account, coz none of these were useful for me. I was never interested in what other poeple's life about.

Another 6 months passed. I realized only thing I missed was the option for events, and groups where u can post.

coz i play fifa on xbox one. to find teammates.. ofcourse the best place is on fb. To sell something. Even to reach out to somebody for help at sometime, fb is the best.

so finally after 1 year, I created twitter/fb accounts. and I never posted any photos or my personal stuff.

Just add 30 friends in fb. the most important ones. u know.. and no more. but i can unfollow some of them. ANd posted all info in groups, and got teammates right away for Fifa.

and also, if I want to reach out someone, its just one step away.

Twitter, follow all useful ppl mostly tech/football/humor

and now i dont feel overwhelmed at all.

Everytime i open fb, i ll not get enough updates.

The key idea, how to be in it and not get overwhelmed. How to be in it an use it the way u want it.

P.S Insta -> never felt like going back. absolutely boring and useless for me personally.

I have a question for you. When you recreated the account on facebook, did you got your old timeline back? And if so, did they try to fill the missing year with photos you were in that were uploaded to their servers or some other information they picked on you while you were gone? (I closed my account 7 years ago and I'm curious to know what happens)

I am envious. I know that I don’t have the self control to use those social media platforms right now. Some people have it though!

This bit hit me hard:

"You know what else is exhausting? Pretending to care about people you don’t give a shit about. Maybe you’re just a better person than I am and you genuinely and deeply care about everyone you are ‘friends’ with on Facebook. I didn’t. "

This was one of the reasons that pushed my of Facebook, in the end, my newsfeed was heavily filtered because I don't care that one my friends bought a new phone, or checked in into a shopping mall. I'll probably miss some more important life events, but I would argue that if they don't share that with me in person, we weren't really friends in the first place.

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