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I have been teetering on the edge of full blown luddism ever since the first iPhone came out. Then social media took over . I have never used social media, and only just recently used a smartphone. Even though I hate the form it has taken on in this particular decade, I'm still open to the possibility that smartphones and social media could one day be ethical and healthy ways to communicate with other people.

That being said, the colonization of the human body is a step too far for me. I will use a smartphone, I might even use Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat one day if they ever embraced more human-centered ethical design. But I will never, ever, ever allow a company to intervene between my physical senses and the physical world. That's the line I personally choose to draw, hopefully many others will draw it with me.




> But I will never, ever, ever allow a company to intervene between my physical senses and the physical world

So no headphones in general? what about vision-correcting glasses? I'm very confused by this line you're drawing.


As someone who feels similarly, I'd say the difference is a tool under the control of the user, as opposed to "outsourcing" to a mix of closed-source software, opaque algorithms, and quasi-feudal corporations.

Eyeglasses, headphones, "dumb" hearing aids, all a-ok. Replacing vision or audio by a mysterious cloud product are over the line.

I'd argue that even smartphones and social networks distort the fabric of our perception, operating on dopamine feedback loops, sense-making, norms, and interpersonal relationships. These things are all deeply entangled anyway (if one goes full Luddite, but all one's friends have not, one is still captured heavily by tech in practice).

For those of who care, we have to draw whatever bright lines we can, no matter how arbitrary; for me, it's simply about having a clear line for what is private, and what is public (including anything living on cloud/FAANG, I treat as de-facto public). I want to have an intentionality with what I send over the wire, as opposed to sharing everything with the world as path-of-least-resistance.


I admire your pedantry, but there's a clear distinction between these things and what dawg- referred too. One is a product with a behaviour that is clearly understood, and not proprietary (for the most part). More importantly, it's behaviour is not under the control of anyone else.

I can see why you might think this line is a little restrictive and arbitrary. Collectively we've already gotten used to running so much software that we have little to no oversight over, so this seems like such a small thing.


Maybe one day we'll have software-controlled corrective lenses, and then they can take over-the-air updates to subtly enlarge and sharpen certain logos...


Headphones are dumb, single-purpose objects. The long term vision of airpods are that they are part of users' everyday interface with the world - with someone else in the middle harvesting data. Ditto with glasses.


Nitpicking. The argument is clear.


> I have never used social media

You're posting on an on-line forum.


Which is not a social medium (except in the sense that you can communicate with other people there).

Social adds the graph, etc. We don't have a "social graph", or friends and followers on HN (except implicitly).

We had online forums for a full decade (more if you count Usenet/BBS/mailing lists) before we had "social media".


Usenet/bbs/mailing lists are social media. Just one kind. Social media has been around for a while, it just got really big 10 years or so ago with the microblogging platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

HN is social media. Maybe niche, but still part of the wad.

We have personas and profiles and comment on stories. Pretty social.


Some people draw a distinction between simple comment threads and things like Facebook, Twitter, etc.


Really? People post articles/pictures/links, people comment on it and discuss, you can show your like/dislike on the article with a single click. Am I describing Facebook or HN?


Only on one of them:

- Your "friends" are known and tracked

- The content you view is determined by your browsing history, ad tracking and that of your "friends"

- The composition of the audience that's voting is poorly informed and susceptible to non-critical thinking (YMMV)

On both of them:

- Stories are posted to maximize your outrage/other emotional response

- Content of stories rarely matches the titles

Social interaction and even a like button is not the problem. What the like button does is the problem.


But one is tracking your every move to show you ads. Online forums, Usenet, IRC, etc existed long before anyone used the term "social media".


They were and they are the original social media.

I've found more acquaintances and friends (and even more) on various online forums and chats than on what people call "social networks" those days.

"Social" is about interpersonal communications. Ads and tracking are - arguably - irrelevant implementation details, not some inherent property of "social networking". User engagement is (and good communities always have it), but artificially trying to boost with ethically questionable profiling technologies and various dark patterns isn't.


You have no idea whether this website is doing that too.


Similarities don't mean anything. It's the differences that count to distinguish things.

Else, "European, male, dark eyes, had a small black moustache below his nose, was admired by millions in his prime, had artistic aspirations, had distinctive bodily and facial mannerisms" -- am I describing Charlie Chaplin or someone more ominous?


> Similarities don't mean anything

...beyond the similarities themselves, that is.

> It's the differences that count to distinguish things

By definition. But then again, if I'm comparing the impact of two dictators, it's probably not helpful to point out that they had different hair colors.

I think what you're really saying is that in a particular context, some properties are relevant, and others aren't. There's no point in pointing out that irrelevant properties are shared, but equally there's no point in pointing out irrelevant properties that are different.

In other words, people just have to be clear about what they're talking about.


I guess HN and similar platforms could fit into the social media box, broadly. Taken extremely literally, they are mediated social environments. But I would absolutely make a distinction between sites like HN and "real deal" social media.

Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter measure success by things like user engagement and time spent on the platform - and their design principles are optimized to max out those measurements. That's how they create more value for advertisers and make billions of dollars.

This site is a social experiment in creating civil online discussion. Facebook and co. are a social experiment in hacking human behavior to create compulsive users who consume advertising with (measurable, trackable, hackable) enthusiasm.

I don't think HN would get much buzz for an IPO. :)


What does an IPO have to do with whether a platform is social?

From your analysis, it almost sounds like HN is more social than the behavior-hacking money machines. The big companies might own the most commonly used social media, but that hardly means their model is the only one.


This is absurd. You and others nitpicking this person to death and creating false equivalencies while ignoring the content of their argument.

I too will not welcome our amoral surveillance overlords onto or into my body. I hope that is a clear enough statement for people to understand.


>it almost sounds like HN is more social than the behavior-hacking money machines

Excellent point! You have gotten to the core of the issue. Mediated social interaction is not more social. It's just a way to harvest data. Mere "connection", in the language of FB who aims to "connect the world", doesn't equal better and more fulfilling communication.


The "I don't do social media" people who are all over Hacker News and other forums are like the "I Don't Watch TV" people who watch Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube on their iPhones all evening.


I think OP's point was that they don't do online forums where misinformation is placed in front of your face because you appear to be friends with so-and-so or they've pegged you as belonging to a certain demographic. I also think on some level you knew that but went ahead and made some auxiliary point about the meaning of the term "social media" for HN brownie points.


“I don’t drink beer. I only drink lagers and ales.”


I'm simply stating a fact, not an opinion. Wasn't trying to spark a debate.


That’s convenient lol.


Social media is all about following people or “brands”, etc. HN and other message boards are about topics.

I don’t think usenet was social media


You may be missing out. I am overall so much happier since I got more active on Instagram. This stuff keeps my friends near me and emulates the accidental bumping into each other you get on a college campus. Like someone posts about the last Incubus concert they went to and you say "That's awesome! Can't believe I missed it" and they'll be like "We're going next Wednesday! Want to come?"


Ah yes. The 'ole never ending FOMO appeal of social media.

You aren't missing out on what you don't know about. You are enjoying life without it.


Oh I know but I like enjoying life with them even more! :)


I like it when my friends aren't trying to make me spend money on stupid shit every time I interact with them.


Not that I fully agree with the OP, but your reading is about as uncharitable as one could be. If you posted that you wished you were at X it's a resasonable assumption that you don't think it's "stupid shit".


Instagram is mass hypnosis induced through infinite scrolling, a suggestive state allowing bidders to speak to our worst fears and insecurities while offering false hope for redemption through consumer spending. Instagram is a cancer on our culture and must be eliminated.


Instagram shows me puppy pics and untempting ads for tacky clothes. It sounds like you've had a bad experience with it but you should be cautious about generalizing it in such a grand, sweeping fashion.


Why? Instagram and Facebook are two heads of the same fucked up hydra that (allegedly) wrecked our electoral process, performed psychological experiments on people without consent, repeatedly violated peoples' privacy and elected to continually pay fines rather than clean up their malicious behavior. Mark Zuckerberg should be in jail, not the CEO's chair, and his company should be completely dismantled.


Instagram actually tells you when you've seen all your followed feeds for the day.


Hyperbole, much? It's a photo sharing site with ads. The rest is capitalism. If you want to fix that you're going to need to go a lot broader than Instagram.


Ah, I think we might have different ways of spending our time.




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