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Facebook quitters report more life satisfaction, less depression and anxiety (boingboing.net)
919 points by ericdanielski on Feb 13, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 403 comments

What gave me the most satisfaction is quitting the news. Incidentally I don't have or use any social media either. Except imgur and sometimes among the funny memes I get news.

But I'm afraid for people I meet who always remind me of all the awful things they've seen in the news. I'm aware of none of this until someone tells me.

And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

I absolutely understand what you're saying. But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable. If everyone follows the advice of avoiding the news, what effect would that have in our Govenment?

The problem as I see it is that it is almost impossible to be informed enough to hold people accountable. In the U.S. at least the news is almost always of the form: “ Person from party A (which you are a member of) destroys person from Party B”. Or, “Party B seeks to destroy Issue C”.

There is virtually no nuance in the reporting. There’s no dissection. For example, the situation with Syria is quite complicated as Turkey, U.S., Russia, Kurds, and Assad all have conflicting goals and desires. Yet all of the reporting I’ve seen on this conflict has been absurdly reductionist and used to garner support/hatred toward the party in power by the adherents/adversaries of said party in power.

I understand the desire to have an informed populace but I think that is no longer possible. It is too easy to sway large swaths of the public. Witness the rise of anti-vaxers and other thoughtless beliefs. Even if I tried to be relatively informed it wouldn’t matter because the vast majority of the people are not psychologically prepared to withstand the pressure of subtle, sustained propaganda.

I have resigned myself to the fact that the republic is dead in the sense of what the ideal of a republic ought to be. I too avoid news and social media. I don’t count this website to be what I call social media since there is no identifying information about myself on here and none of my friends knows about my posts on this website.

I was reading Plato recently and this stood out:

> When they meet together, and the world sits down at an assembly, or in a court of law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any other popular resort, and there is a great uproar, and they praise some things which are being said or done, and blame other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clapping their hands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in which they are assembled redoubles the sound of the praise or blame—at such a time will not a young man's heart, as they say, leap within him? Will any private training enable him to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popular opinion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not have the notions of good and evil which the public in general have—he will do as they do, and as they are, such will he be?

People have been complaining about what you're complaining about for thousands of years. What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.

>What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi's optimism here of course belies an ignorance of the impact of technological advancement upon the global climate, which was odd considering he was alive for history's literal technological fulcrum, but I guess he can be forgiven due to having other worries at the time.

> impact of technological advancement upon the global climate

It's worth remembering that our technology makes the world less habitable for us but that might not be the case for other organisms. I have little concern for the longterm health of life on earth beyond the blip of disruption that is humanity. However, I hope we can use the same technology to overcome or manage some of our own worst excesses. It is worth looking towards the positive stories in environmentalism sometimes. It is not all doom and gloom, and nature's ability to regenerate and re-conquer our wastelands is easy to forget.

Maybe, maybe not. There's a theory that fungi that breaks down plant matter today didn't exist during the Mesozoic - it's possible that subsequent civilisations (if any) aren't going to be able to turn to fossil fuels for cheap energy.

Not to mention that the goldilocks zone doesn't last forever, and the impending runaway-greenhouse-effect is something unprecedented in Earth's history. I'm being hyperbolic here, but what if the earth never had another ice age, ever again? In a sea populated mostly by jellies and cephalopods, would natural processes be able to sequester enough carbon to allow de-acidify the seas, finally allowing calcium to be used as an exoskeleton again? Or is earth's future going to be predominantly boneless?

Sure, life will never be extinguished until the seas have boiled away (and even then...) but the incredible biodiversity of life we had a few hundred years ago is likely never to return... ever.

| the incredible biodiversity of life we had a few hundred years ago.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the biblical creation story in the context of trying to understand how I can effectively communicate regarding climate change with those around me who are religious.

Some Christians are amenable to the concept of human destruction of the environment being sinful, but even then, I sometimes wonder if their tendency to rely on grace hinders their ability to be proactive in their worldview regarding it.

Anyway, most people know the story of Adam and Eve as an explanation of the imperfection of life. "Why did God make life so hard? Why is there evil?" Humans did something knowingly bad and we now have to pay the consequence of having a harder life. Fine.

I just can't shake this feeling that maybe that story is a prophecy more than a prologue. I look around and see all the incredible beauty of the natural world; the amazing cornucopia of life, the incredible desolation of space, the warm gifts we give each other in the form of culture, food, love. Seems like life is really ok if you have family and can put good food on the table every night, right?

So what happens if we keep breaking the natural order of things? What happens when all the animals bigger than us are dead? When the soil drys up and blows away? When we've put enough pesticides and antibiotics and plastics into our rivers and oceans and overfished them to the point where our children won't know the concept of seafood like we did because it doesn't exist anymore? What happens then? I think only then we realize that what we had before looked pretty close to Eden.

It's completely thinkable that we've already caused the extinction of some organism with an adaptation that humanity will desperately need in the future. Our science is good but it's almost nothing compared to the machinations of nature itself when it comes to revealing fundamental truth about reality.

I only hope we can turn the tide.

You write well, your musings there were enjoyable to read.

All of the Old Testament is interpretive metaphor, so the original Fall story can work equally well as both prophecy and prologue.

The Fall deals with loss of innocence and the acceptance of consequences, which is a parable that has the remarkable flexibility to work at any level. Every decade for the last 100 years, we could safely say that civilisation as a whole was less innocent than the decade before it, in that we were more aware of ourselves and our impact on each other and the environment. With each generation of awareness we are imbued with more responsibility to take care of ourselves and our world, but we don't do it because those that pushed the innocence-lost envelope are also the ones emotionally capable of externalising the costs of doing so.

The thing about civilisation is that we can't really envisage an END to it - we can easily imagine ourselves amongst the stars, continuing to lose innocence the further we go... I often wonder if it's possible to progress AT ALL without our cancerous approach stomping a steel heeled boot on our environment and on other people.

Is progress possible without suffering? That's a question for bigger minds than mine, i think. I need an economist, a sociologist, and a philosopher, stat!

> People have been complaining about what you're complaining about for thousands of years. What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.

The people doing the manipulating are generally getting what they want, why would they try to pull the system apart?

> There is virtually no nuance in the reporting.

If you want to read ad-supported news, then you will be stuck with news that is intended to have the lowest possible production costs, and garner the most possible eyeballs. This business does not support nuance, because nuance is expensive and less audacious.

Nuanced reporting exists on essentially every topic that it is possible to care about, but it is often in smaller paid publications.

> Nuanced reporting exists on essentially every topic that it is possible to care about, but it is often in smaller paid publications.

Earlier this week I spoke to someone who wanted me to subscribe to a left-wing newspaper (klassekampen for the Norwegians here). I said my media budget was full - for now - but I'd like to add them - together with one from the other side at a later stage.

Then she says: that's not unusual, a good number of our readers also read resett (right wing web site that I usually don't read.)

That surprised me a bit, and in a good way.

Edit to add: I'd of course be equally happy to know if many right-leaning people read left-leaning news, and I've no reason to believe it is different.

People could read both to make more informed decisions or to take a middle position on issues. But it could also be because they want to know their enemy or to find fodder for their online rants. I agree with you though that it's always good to be informed.

I'm happy to read articles both from the political left and right in Sweden, but I refuse to read the anti-immigration websites by the far right. It just makes me feel dirty, and I don't want to be in their company. I already know that even if we start from the same sets of facts, our conclusions will be completely different, and there's no need for me to even see their proposed solutions.

Speaking of all sides, there's a Swedish web forum called Flashback that is a great example of this. It's very pro free speech, which means that you have posters who are openly nazis discussing politics with communists and others. You have to have a thick skin to read some of the stuff posted, but I'm really happy that there is a platform for these people to meet and discuss, because nothing gets better by only having individual echo chambers.

I think individual spaces are also important, where you agree with people and don't have to fight all the time, but we also need spaces for people with different backgrounds to discuss.

the issue with the "i dislike mainstream media" argument is that its usually made by people who have a simultaneous and unspoken desire to have the "correct" information and opinions gift wrapped and personally delivered to them.

I think mainstream media is very dislikeable, and this "correct" information exists and can be gift wrapped to an extent. The only problem is that it's not so easy: if you want true education, get books on the matter (e.g. middle east history and current affairs). Vastly more valuable than trying to grasp the torrent of sensationalist news snippets. Not everyone has the commitment to do so. I'm not sure in that case if it's better to read no news at all or only read news (and no detailed reporting); I'm inclined to think no news is better. If you're not willing to question, contextualize and integrate information that's offered, better not take it, waste of time (or worse when it is skewed).

contrarians are superficially similar to skeptics.

i like this

So read something like The Economist or the paper version of the NYT?

The NYT I definitely now class with all the rest. In my opinion The Economist stands alone as the only publication I can trust to be nuanced and informative.

I agree that The New York Times can be pretty terrible (a lot depends on the reporters and editors of a particular piece), but I have to say that I also find The Economist to be pretty shallow and often wrong. The best part about The Economist is its breadth (a lot of stories from all over the world), but a story about a water purification project in Uganda (for example) isn't going to be useful for most Americans (and I assume Ugandans would have better sources to read). It's mostly infotainment.

I'd say the Economist, Bloomberg, Bellingcat, and fivethirtyeight all have good signal to noise ratios.

Bloomberg (the website) is garbage, FT is far better. Bloomberg journalists are compensated for stories that “move markets”. Ridiculous.

I would really like a free Bloomberg terminal tho

>Bloomberg journalists are compensated for stories that “move markets”.

Possibly, but that is fundamentally different from infotainment. Even with that bias, Bloomberg never writes an article which fails to answer the most basic questions one could ask about a given story (unlike most "news" [1]). I also qualify them as decent because they generally report trends not anecdotes. Contrast with your local TV station running 1000 crime stories a week no matter the crime stats.


This! Whatever its flaws, the fact that it doesn't share the most pernicious ones of most online news sources counts for something. I refuse to pay to access Bloomberg as long as he is running for President, but it would probably be worth subscribing to otherwise.

Bloomberg posts plenty of articles in my area of expertise that are riddled with faults.

I find Frontline to be some of the most nuanced, deep dive journalism which is readily available.

Why do you think those sources are nuanced or provide decent coverage of topics? Are you sure you're right?

Here's one example among many that perhaps these are not good sources of information.


This is the answer. Journalists cannot work for free, and trying to run a newspaper entirely supported by ads creates perverse incentives.

ProPublica to me is the best. Of course they don't cover everything, but what they do cover, they do an excellent job.

The news these days has no attention span and pounds on the most catchy story all day. Right now it's novel coronavirus. I bet people who watch CNN are highly stressed out about it. I caught a few minutes during a tour of the CNN center and I was glad I won't be seeing that reporting all day. As soon as a more gruesome story comes along, the reporting will change, it'll forget about the virus, and life will go on.

There must be a better way to truly accomplish keeping government accountable. Think about your locus of control. Most reporting is about things that do not directly affect you, you cannot change them, and they have some emotional value that keeps them in the news. Where you can effect change is in your locality, or with your local representatives, voting in larger elections, writing letters to staff, joining advocacy groups, etc. I think the constant drumbeat of bad news makes people less likely to do any of these things.

This is easy to say and hard to accomplish in reality. Unless you give specific to dos and don'ts, you will have to change a lot of your habits.

I'm implying consuming more deliberative media, such as long-form journalism, research, "current" history, and the reports of advocacy groups you agree with to inform yourself and help decide what action you will take.

It's almost as if large scale change requires a great effort.

You can delegate your concern to a political party, which is essentially all you are able to do as a citizen in a country like the US particularly if you live in a state that does not have a lot of referenda.

If you want to learn more you can spend more time on researching the issues. Otherwise you could vote on a single issue, or just pick the party that is supposed to represent people like you with a similar hierarchy of values.

The US also doesn't have mandatory voting, so declining to vote just signals that you have delegated concern over civic issues to other people who are willing to make that (sometimes significant) sacrifice of time, energy, and money.

The problem with the strategy you describe is that if too many people use it, politicians can just openly lie about what's happening in the world and what they're doing about it. A voter who has identified with a party and is no longer interested in learning the facts has no way to correct for this.

Do politicians who openly lie about what's happening in the world and what they're doing about it get corrected? Now THAT would be news.

Yes, it happens all the time. There are many news websites that track and correct lies made by public officials.

I think he meant more in terms of "big media" instead of "you can find the actual truth if you go to these places"

I also meant in terms of effect. Yes, you will find things exposed in various media outlets. But if I turn on CNN during a Republican presidency I see people on the edge of rage-quitting life and if I turn on Fox News during a Democratic presidency I see McCarthyism is alive and well. And if I do the opposite I see literal propaganda. I don't think most of their viewers are really looking for truth but are basking in deep, echo-ey pools (or sensory deprivation chambers, if you please) of confirmation bias.

There are far better news outlets, and I agree that press and media need to exist and be free for the purpose proposed above, I would just argue that in the most popular media, that isn't really what's happening for most of their audience, and I personally am far happier not seeking out mainstream news myself because of how sensationalist and biased most of it is. I'll eat my hotel breakfasts and airport snacks somewhere other than in front of the complimentary TV.

Perhaps, but there are usually people in positions of power that care and for better or worse probably have more influence than the general electorate.

It's not a strategy, it's a choice to be happy. I don't have control over other people, and I don't want it.

There's a simpler solution if you don't want to exert control over other people. Don't vote.

Here's the secret, most "news" makes your view of the world less accurate, not more. So like with many things, the key is quality over quantity.

Check out the Media Bias Chart: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/?v=402f03a963ba

To know what's going on you only need 10 minutes a day skimming stories from a few outlets at the top of the triangle. You can have a remarkably well rounded knowledge of global affairs just from following Reuters' freely available Top News RSS feed. 10min a day on that feed and you will have a better picture of the world than 90% of your peers.

Most people's media consumption is far greater than 10min a day. They stick to one slope of the triangle or another. The problem with all these sites as you go down the slope is that they get increasingly more sensationalist, and even when they remain technically accurate they try to paint an engagement-driving, adversarial, perpetual crisis view of the world.

When you slide down the slope of the triangle you end up feeling like the world is doomed, the enemy is on the rise, everything is broken, because that's how the publisher wants you to feel, because they know it keeps you coming back.

Cut your media diet down, spend 80% of your time on the facts, and 20% on occasional long read analysis from both sides. You'll get smarter and your anxiety will disappear.

As for social media... from a news/events standpoint at least, it's just garbage. A billion lost souls jockeying for imaginary status with imaginary people. Avoid.

> Check out the Media Bias Chart: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/?v=402f03a963ba

Where NPR, NYT, and CNN are deemed neutral and balanced, eh?

Such determinations say more about the determiner than the determined.

In point of fact they are all left of center on the chart, but less far left than say MSNBC, which I would say is pretty spot on.

Some other commenters have offered really good replies, but I’d like to reiterate the sentiment that most major (American) news outlets have heavily prioritized ad revenue and television ratings over their public duty to inform the people.

These days, I get most of my headlines from Reuters and AP. I also respect The Economist, Propublica, FiveThirtyEight, Washington Post, The Intercept, Miami Herald, Buzzfeed News, and New York Times. Of course, some more than others, but it seems that the quality of the journalism emerging from these outlets is relying more on the integrity of individual journalists with great track records as opposed to great teams (think Spotlight).

I’m sure just about every commenter here who follows the news knows of at least one article that tarnished the reputation of each of those outlets at some point in time. Maybe it was a low-effort payila piece, or a poorly written opinion column, or just straightup poor journalism that never got a retraction.

payila -> payola

May I suggest consuming news through text rather than video? In fact, the more boring the better.

I see a big issue is that the news is frequently emotive based. In some cases this is helpful, when terrible stuff is going on. Other cases it makes mundane things seem worse. Or it makes things that don't affect us and/or we have no control over emotionally important. The latter is particularly harmful, imo. A lot of these make you feel like you are more informed than you are, because you're highly emotionally invested. I think video really promotes the emotional investment.

But the boring stuff allows you to become emotionally invested in what __you__ care about. Then the lack of emotional forcing makes you feel less informed, so if you care you spend time finding out more. This prevents people from being "armchair researchers" and fighting.

Where do you get the boring stuff? Please, I'm drowning here.

To be honest, most of the major news sources have the boring stuff. The actual issue is that what goes viral and is passed around are opinion articles. I particularly like Reuters, they seem more middle of the road in terms of bias. But I think one of the keys is to read from both sides. You don't have to agree with the side that you don't lean towards, but it is extremely helpful to know the content that those people are ingesting. If you want nuance, you really have to try to see things from other peoples' perspectives. This is pretty hard. I think being "so connected" this is actually more challenging, because it is easier to find your niche inside of a niche inside of a niche and stay there, instead of having to deal with different niches.

Short form, Reuters and AP. PBS NewsHour is excellent if you prefer an audiovisual presentation.

Personally, I find all of that to be too much of a firehouse, and prefer longer form reads.

For those, I’d recommend subscribing to physical copies of magazines (or digital copies of the physical copies).

Something about the pieces of paper or emails in my inbox beckons me to read. Some magazines (New Yorker, Economist, even WIRED) have first rate long form journalism.

They’ll usually have at least one substantial article that’s deeply or tangentially related to current news blurbs, so you stay “in the loop”.

Magazines are nice because they seem to respect the reader’s autonomy and intellectual curiosity, by avoiding tantrums, outrage, and diatribes, and focusing instead on nuance and themes. It’s a more literary way of digesting current events than twitter or what have you, and it can even be relaxing!

Audio also works well. I've been listening to the NPR News Now podcast, as well as NPR's Planet Money.

When I'm feeling a little more capacity for the news cycle, I might also listen to NPR's Up First, NYT's The Daily, and NPR's The Indicator.

Reuters and AP are the news wire services from which most new networks get their news. They are both super boring and terse, and there are RSS feeds for both.

Local papers?

I actually hold a more optimistic view toward the effect of people not staying up to date with the news, I feel like a good part of reason why there are so much anger in the world right now, and political spectrum becoming more extreme is partially due to how news get reported, you rarely rarely see an objective view of matters on news. They're often used as PR outlets for political parties.

>I absolutely understand what you're saying. But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable.

So, how does that work out for you?

If you encourage your neighbors to vote, local politicians will pay more attention to your area. I doubt it goes much broader than that.

You could say the same about not voting.

Well, if you can say the same thing about voting and not voting, then it makes not much of a difference either way...

In the context of the article and the point OP made it’s working out great not being informed or voting. At least for me. I don’t stress or get worked up by stuff. I feel like I’m a lot happier these days. Deliberate ignorance is not for everyone but it does work well for me.

Here's how I solve this problem: I subscribe to the Sunday print edition [0] of the Boston Globe [1]. It comes on Sunday and I read it over coffee.

There's no practical reason to be informed beyond what's in your city's Sunday print edition. Anything more than that is entertainment.

[0] It occurs to me that city dailies are so out of fashion that some of you might not understand why I recommend the Sunday edition. The Sunday edition is the largest edition of the week and repeats stories that appeared on other days. It also includes some features and sections that are not included on any other day. If you only get one day, you want Sunday.

[1] This could be any big-city paper (e.g. The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe). It doesn't matter.

A valid point. But I think that occasional (perhaps regularly scheduled) and mindful checks of select, thoughtful news sources that aren't overly focused on driving engagement with clickbait topics, article titles, etc allows you to stay sufficiently informed without succumbing to the stress-storm that is most news media. Think big picture, often long-form reporting vs. a heavy reliance on "breaking news", opinion pieces, and lifestyle-focused content.

(Some sources I like: PBS Newshour, ProPublica, the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Review of Books.)

You are largely being informed by PR people and lobbyists. Also facts are generally missing or just wrong when published in real time. Books gives a much more accurate and accountable view of events.

Not sure how books really solve that. If I was interested in following the recent impeachment, what books am I going to read? I'm sure there will be plenty available within the year, but that's a little late for anyone who wants to know what's going on right now.

That's precisely it. There will be plenty of books available before November, and their authors will have had a few months to digest what happened and its aftermath.

And November is the only time it really matters. Until then, you can shake your tiny fist, but in November you get to make a choice that counts, literally.

You could follow it in real-time for the entertainment value, if you want. But if you actually want to make an informed choice when it matters, you'll have no trouble finding a book that summarizes it, and it will take far, far less time than trying to keep up with it (and remember it all come November).

Ignoring the news and waiting for a book leaves you vulnerable to revisionism. As people tell stories about events that happened, the events retroactively evolve.

This is something that is particularly noticeable as you get older so that you remember things 10 or 20 years ago. Of course, your own memories can be inaccurate, but people who weren't around at the time are generally completely unmoored because nobody examines primary sources.

> But if you actually want to make an informed choice when it matters, you'll have no trouble finding a book that summarizes it, and it will take far, far less time than trying to keep up with it (and remember it all come November).

I also doubt there are a lot of people who were following the impeachment because they wanted to decide whether or not to vote for Trump. If you already know how you'll vote, following the day to day political battles is, as you said, merely entertainment.

"because they wanted to decide whether or not to vote for Trump"

I assume people weren't watching to find out if he would be acquitted, either, although polls might be interesting to know.

Important people have been declaring odd things, like how they're sure he's learned his lesson, so it's hard to tell what people believe or expect.

Books definitely won't help you satisfy impulsive urges for 24/7 live updates on such minutiae; but then again, what practical use would you have for trying to stay perpetually up to date on the current status of the impeachment process?

The impeachment is already forgotten.

What impeachment?

>If everyone follows the advice of avoiding the news,

That would be a similar situation to everyone following the advice of not becoming a musician (no music) or not becoming an astronaut (the international space station would have to shut down). Our society is based on specialization and every group of friends really only needs one person who knows what the news is talking about.

It seems like most of the people I know who spend hours a week watching political news end up having no clue who to vote for when it comes to local elections where they have the most impact. I've worked the polls multiple times and have seen this over and over.

A lot of the news is mental junk food, and the idea that they are doing it for a better society is usually just an excuse for a bad habit. Even on the topics the news covers, people are usually left with a cartoonish narrative that's often worse than being completely ignorant on the issues.

I've been avoiding news as well since the last Presidential election. I can appreciate that this is terrible advice in general, but for the sake of my blood pressure, health in general, and mental well-being it's the best choice for me.

I noticed that certain politicians do their best to reach the media and news, and others just do their job.

Why would the news be the best source to judge your politicians?

I'm struggling to think of anything that could serve as a better source, or even a reasonable runner-up. Am I taking a broader interpretation of "news"? I would agree that cable news is probably a net negative; web aggregators like Google are hazardous, and following individually-selected news sites is a lot of work, but what else is there?

You can look at their voting record, or who they take money from. There a number of "non-news" websites that have this information.

Yes the important stuff is public record, but it's also hard to analyze the primary sources. Bills tend to have misleading names, mixed content, and non-obvious agendas. Context is important; it's not uncommon for someone to oppose a weak bill because politically the alternative is a stronger one, not inaction. The FEC database is hideously formatted anomaly-filled MS Access stuff. I generally let someone else do the analysis, but then that's "news" (or at least subject to the same pitfalls?).

I was kind of shocked recently because my phone nudged me towards the "front page" of Wikipedia with top news stories, and it was completely different from other sources of online news. In particular I hadn't heard anything about Brexit finally happening. Someone who is older than me and mainly watches news on TV told me it had been reported there. But Google News and various internet sites I usually read seem to have omitted it. It seems like there is a distinct echo chamber, and maybe you don't have to give up news entirely to get out. It's crossed my mind I could start reading a local newspaper again, too.

I think in a country like the US, where news networks can push a political bias (not needing to give both sides of an issue equal coverage), without accountability, it requires consumers to do their own homework on issues. I guess the question is, why not optimize and cut the news out of the middle?

It might be a benefit. Being misinformed could be worse than being uninformed.

“Hold those in power accountable” could mean many different things, but if you’re referring primarily to voting, then reviewing high quality sources every few weeks or once a month will probably give you better information then following the daily news cycle.

I think if people in general took that approach, the effect on the government would be positive. Citizens consuming politics as entertainment and politicians approaching their job like YouTube celebrities are doing enormous damage.

> reviewing high quality sources every few weeks or once a month will probably give you better information then following the daily news cycle.

I have found this to be effective. I'll read something like Reuters a few times a month. Events that are major that I need to care about sooner are talked about and I can't escape, so I go read up on them.

The truth is that there's not enough happening every day that needs your attention for you to stay informed (at least informed enough. Because we can't all be experts on everything, which I think the daily cycle gives you the impression that you are).

I've adapted a kind of middle road with regards to this. I don't use mainstream social media but I do use Mastodon; a certain amount of general news reach me that way by people sharing it.

For regular news I don't read it during the week, but I will catch up on it during the weekend. It keeps me updated on ongoing situations (e.g. Corona virus, presidential elections) and let's me see what things stick around. If a story comes out Monday and it reappears Saturday it means it's worth considering since it survived the 24 hour cycle. Looking back I also pick headlines that seem interesting to me and read them even if it's something that's not reappearing for the weekend.

This way I avoid all the SHOCKING BREAKING NEWS that generally amounts to nothing much, I stay up to date on major issues, and I see what things are actual stories as opposed to clickbait.

If you read the news regularly you can quickly form the opinion that things are terrible. If you read up on things you'll find that in general things are better than they've ever been. Better obviously does not imply good, even so it's way better to be alive in 2020 than in 1920 everywhere on the planet.

I agree.

I went from long time news-junkie phase to no-news phase to just-enough-news phase.

Being a citizen in a democracy is an active process and the active part doesn't have to take too much time. For example, you can check news just two times a week.

For those who are saying there are no neutral news organizations, here is my take: All people are biased. Organizations are made up of people. Hence, you won't get an organization without bias.

The goal is not to find organizations with no bias. The goal is to get your news from organizations with high standards of journalistic integrity and professionalism. Organizations that are aware of thier bias and try to seperate their news coverage from thier opinion section. There are many such news organizations (probably more than any time in history). Just pick two or three such outlets and you will stay informed.

There is no possible way that the means by which you might be informed today - mass media - is going to give you an impartial view of the world, without bias towards the ruling elite.

The ruling elite long ago exercised masterful control over the masses through media manipulation - it has been a hundred years of refinement.

If you want to hold your government accountable, you need to demand more leaks and whistleblowing. This is the only effective way of keeping the power structure on its toes - because it does everything it can to maintain power, including control mass information at scale.

I've never found the "News" to be anything more than "what the elite want me to think about the world" which is why, switching it off, life got immediately better.

Happy middle: subscribe to one or two high quality sources of news (eg. NYT, WSJ). Less clickbait overload than something like Google News or Facebook, and you get acquainted with the journalists’ styles, beliefs, and perspectives over time. Slower paced.

>But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable.

I'm curious though, how does the average citizen hold those in power accountable? OK so you vote, but tons of other people vote and are often uninformed about what is going on or are completely apathetic. The recent news about Roger Stone's sentencing to me proves how little power we as average citizens have in actually holding others accountable, especially when those in power have ties to other rich, powerful, and well connected people.

What direction your outrage on that story points is a function of what media you consume. This is of course just the outrage du jour, there’s nothing unique about the Stone story in this regard.

Reading news is useful if it helps inform you about issues that you can take action to help address whether via voting or other political action.

This is most pertinent at the local level where your vote has more impact and it's more feasible to take action on specific issues when you learn about them.

Reading about presidential scandals every day when you likely already know who you're voting for just drags you down and benefits no one besides the media companies profiting off your attention.

I think OP is referring to the news that only have entertainment value and one that does not empower the citizens but makes it a spectacle. There was a Hidden Brain episode just on the news topic. It is a great listen.

Here is the link:


Not much information is necessary to hold the people in power at the national level accountable. More information has little upside and significant downside in a two party democracy.

The exception I see is at the local level, where more information has more upside than downside. But I’ve also found social media dominated by national politics without much local information.

> If everyone follows the advice of avoiding the news, what effect would that have in our Govenment?

Probably not much. Lots of information that people get from the news is misleading at best anyway.

And you can do simple retrospective voting without reading the news: did I do well in the last four years? Then re-elect the party in power. Things are going badly? Then vote for an opposition party.

> did I do well in the last four years?

As in you did you personally do well financially or what have you? So you're voting as the ethical equivalent of a four year old?

The rule of law is threatened by a subtle erosion of norms in the administration of justice, but your 401k's up, so let's vote the incumbents back in?

If you want a vote that actual changes things, vote with your feet.

That vote has an enormous impact on your own life. Bigger than any ballot box.

But it also has a comparatively big impact on the place you leave behind and the place you are joining. Just your tax revenue alone will be so much more impactful than your marginal vote was.

> As in you did you personally do well financially or what have you? So you're voting as the ethical equivalent of a four year old?

Yes. But that's not because I think it's a particularly good way to vote; I just think that it would be an improvement on what people are doing de facto. See eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_the_Rational_Voter

Problem is these days the news tends to be more narrative than plain news.

Even things that weren’t typically political or politicized these days they are.

Instead of reading the news you can try reading books about current and past events. History books of all stripes will inform you more than the goldfish memory of newspapers ever could. I like that I pay for a book. It makes the transaction very transparent, unlike the hidden costs of newspaper advertising.

What if the news are so distorted and harmful that it's making you worse at holding them accountable ?

I feel like the news are doing a bad job at keeping people informed about important matters anyways. They report on all kinds of other stuff just to get the eyeballs for the ads that will make them money.

So yeah, I spend my time on other things. Like for example on reading stuff on HN.

Informed how? What actionable information is the news providing that impacts you as a voter?

> But part of me feels an obligation to be informed to hold those in power accountable.

This falls into the "circle of concern > circle of influence" problem identified by Covey.

If rightwing governments ever became the good guys I guarantee you'd hear about it.

News is actually worse for me than social media. That's what I feel addicted to. I'd like to get into a state where I read my news from a quality weekly newspaper (like The Economist for global news and maybe another for domestic ones.) An spend the rest of my current time used to browse endless unimportant news to reading books, doing sports etc. But given that there are lots of actually intersting things I would like to work with and study with my computer, I have not found a way not to slip into the news chamber instead of going for a run/opening a book/ when I need a break from the stuff I do with my computer.

I did this for a while, with a couple modifications:

I tried to replace the topics I was reading about in the news with books on those same topics. You'll get far more about, say, the Israel-Palestine conflict from reading one 300 page book than you will from reading 300 1 page news articles.

On top of that I'd pick up about one news magazine or newspaper a month or so, just to stay on top of what the current issues actually were. I did this for a couple of years.

That, however, was at a period of relative stability in western politics. The truth is that right now I'm too interested in the stories that are currently unfolding to only read about them once they've become history.

I haven't watched Seattle local news in years and feel like absolutely nothing has changed at all, and I feel just as informed.

I'm slowly getting rid of national news as well, as many sources aren't there to inform, but now provide primarily gossip-y and dramatized opinions. I really don't care about your opinion as a journalist unless I'm specifically reading the opinion section. This is just the result of the monopolization of media and the profit motive behind it.

>And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

I often remind myself of this a lot. If I look out the window, nothing is happening, kids are playing in the yard, the sky is blue, things still go on. People tell me all of these terrible things going on, and while they probably are going on and I do care about a beneficial moral & ethical outcome, it just really has no effect on me. I know that's a privileged view and most in the world really don't have it this good, but the world goes on...

A properly functioning democracy requires voters to be well informed about political issues. Not knowing what's going on means you can't make an informed choice if or when you vote. Often, you have the choice of two or more equally unsatisfactory (or equally good) candidates so change doesn't happen and voting might not matter, but sometimes countries change very rapidly for the worse, like Germany did in 1933, so it isn't always possible to stay insulated from events.

Of course, many news sources are unreliable, or biased, and most voters are poorly informed or easily manipulated, and many important issues are so complex that learning about them would take up most of people's spare time, but if people make more of an effort to stay informed, and learn to recognize bias and disinformation, and vote accordingly, things might become better than they would otherwise be.

I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.

Like I said, some news manages to filter through to me. And it's often completely pointless.

For example Youtube sometimes recommends news from my country to me, even if I never watch it. in 2019 I can remember them recommending news about some missing girl up north. But I had to hear from my friends about a handicapped guy who was shot 25 times by the police for playing with a toy gun. They didn't recommend that one.

I do vote btw. Since I don't consider myself capable of keeping up with politics I vote with my instincts, as most others. I either vote for the social democrats/left or the green party.

I don't fuss over details or little missteps they might have done. I believe the green party has the right direction and their voice needs to be stronger in parliament. Equally I believe the left still cares about workers rights and unions.

> I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.

If you're referring to Kristallnacht that would have been about five years too late. It's happened more recently, elsewhere.

Political parties change what they stand for over time, sometimes drastically.

I kind of agree with Aaron Swartz: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews

What following then news gives you is more chaos and disinformation. Every time there is a vote coming up, you can look up information on all important things collected nicely afer they've been settled, by people following politics.

What I'm arguing for is to stay well-informed, and that usually involves delving a bit deeper than just passively listening to news broadcasts or passively reading news sites.

Yes, you can visit web sites which help you to decide who to vote for by asking you questions (and which, incidentally, collect your responses for whatever purpose they choose), but your answers, and the recommendation of who to vote for, might change if you became better informed.

I totally buy your argument that an informed public is a good thing and a requirement for a functioning democracy.

I vehemently disagree that the current news media is the way to reach that goal. As things stand as of this moment I think we would be better off if nobody read the news.

Misinformed is no better than uninformed, and often worse.

> I vehemently disagree that the current news media is the way to reach that goal.

Yes, you need to learn what's happening, and why, from a variety of sources.

Same for me. I use Leechblock on my computer and AdGuard on my phone. Both pull a blocklist from pastebin that includes nearly news website I've ever visited -- nearly 200 of them. I occasionally add new ones that I encounter while surfing.

If I avoid all news to the extent that I no longer no what's been going on in the last few months, my anxiety level goes way way down. There's a washout period of a couple weeks, and after that it gets really easy; I no longer feel the need to pop dopamine with tidbits of current events. Not even a little. I avoid it like a former addict avoids drugs.

> Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

Even if you lived in a country with a low standard of living and less personal safety ... would knowing about the world events really change anything? Important local things usually don't make the national or world news, yet you tend to learn them unless you're completely isolated.

And the world events that would change things for anyone anywhere, like being on on the brink of nuclear war ... would you knowing about it have any effect on it?

I read a great book, "Designing Your Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, that said "A problem you can't change isn't a problem, it's a truth and you have to accept it". I think that mental reframing helps process effectively immutable events.

In life, society and politics, most things aren’t strictly immutable or mutable in a binary way though. What may be impossible for a single person to change, may still be subject to collective action - and collective action arises from the cumulative pressures, tensions and frustrations of many individuals. If all those individuals avoid information that could evoke these pressures, that collective action will never come into existence.

That does not seem to account for most political and social issues that you can't do much for alone, but millions of people together can bring positive change with little individual effort.

What's up INTPenis (you can call me ISTPsycho if you want).

My dysfunctional family members are always getting riled up online, blocking each other, quitting and quietly rejoining, etc. Some of them are into politics, which makes it worse.

I think there must be an addictive component to this stuff -- not just the FB scroolers, but the twitter outragers, the SJW cancel cultists. There's a pornographic aspect to the spectacle of it all that needs to be acknowledged.

Hello kindred spirit. I also feel completely outside of family drama.

The curse I carry is that I have a very good memory. So I'm relatively young still but I feel like everything just goes round and round.

Plagues in the news, terrorist attacks, family feuds. It all just repeats.

Yeah, I totally agree. I quit this past May except for the occasional half hour to hour news/comedy show every week or less. In over half a year, I haven't missed anything important. If something is truly important, it'll filter through and I will look it up specifically. If not, even if it is center stage and historical news, it's really irrelevant. It speaks wonders to the helplessness and hopelessness in this country, however. There is little any one of us can do to change anything. So I stopped trying and hoping and I am less depressed, less angry, and more into my own life and doing things that I enjoy. I'm still just as helpless as before. No change there. Also, one doesn't need to go cold turkey. Reading the news once a week or even once a month would be plenty. Few news stories move fast enough that they require daily or even weekly attention. None affect my life, really.

Is HN not social media?

That's debatable. Where is the social element? If you stretch the definition of social media long enough you could also call the usenet, mailing lists or Wikipedia social media.

HN isn't really about human connections or personal interactions. We might discuss them, but HN isn't designed or usually used for creating them.

The comment section, submissions themselves, upvotes, and the user profiles - some of them even reaching celebrity-like status, for better or worse - are social elements in my eyes. And yes, I would also classify the usenet and mailing lists as social media. As for Wikipedia, maybe certain parts.

On the other end you have traditional media with fewer social elements and a limited number of content publishers: the press, books, television, radio, and read-only websites.

> Where is the social element?

Right here in the comments.

It's news at the very least. It's in the name.

I gave up on cable and eventually live TV for similar reasons. I would rather read the news than be subjected to someone's sensational idea of news, which I now call olds because it's just the same thing rehashed over and over. That lead me to give up on Facebook, which I found to be the same thing rehashed over and over by different people.

I don't even watch live TV anymore, unless something I'm actually interested in is happening. I've actually watched Senate and House proceedings and election results on public TV (over the air, since I quit cable years ago), and gotten more informarion tham any news channel could dish out.

I am about to quit Twitter, because I realize how utterly useless it is. And I'll probably quit Mastodon, too, because I don't use it either.

So many people say "I can't leave, because I want to keep up with X." Since I've quit Facebook, people call and text me more than before. In lieu of sending out some mass communication and blaming me for not seeing it in a flood of atrocious content, people who want to stay connected take the time to do so in a more direct way.

Same here! Since quitting the news I'm much happier and have much more time and energy to devote to fun and productive things.

In some ways, I actually like bad news. It reminds me of my fragility, immortality, and weaknesses. It reminds me to be thankful of what I have, and maybe one day too join the losing battle of making the world a better place. And for the context of my faith, it reminds me there is a better place I'm hoping to be.

This will get lost in all the other comments, but I switched to just the BBC, The Economist, and FiveThirtyEight for news this year, rather than spending muuuuuch too much time getting my news from Reddit-linked sites.

My mental health has never been better, and I’m not sure I’ve missed anything important.

Just like I have had use of dating apps (they are simply indispensable in today's society, at least where I live, for someone who wants to date and is no longer in the "dozens of friends in the city" demographic), I sometimes feel a need for a social networking app/website that helps me keep in touch with updates from friends' lives especially now when we literally are countries and continents away. WhatsApp groups and WhatsApp statuses just doesn't cut it.

If only there was a feature rich app with a clean and pleasant interface (would prefer it to be paid). The defunct app Path comes to mind. It was quite good except that it was a privacy nightmare too.

But then their "life" updates would start to be overwhelmingly overrun by their fake, political, spam updates.

I still read the news, just to stay up to date, but I gave up trying to engage in discussions about it. I still like discussing politics, but only with close friends who I've known for years, they won't blatantly disregard my opinion because I have a different one.

I quit politics on Facebook. Just aggressively unfollow anyone who regularly posts political stuff (whether I agree or not).

That alone has turned my feed into my friends families and their kids, sports trash talking and the more urgent or relevant local stuff. It’s great.

My wife is from Canada so I spend a lot of time in BC. The effect of not being surrounded by American news is almost transformative. At my home in austin it can be 6am and "the president did this awful thing...there was a murder over here...the senate did this awful thing...there was a terrorist threat over there..." morning ews in canada is "a bear was spotted in the park and we are facing a syrup shortage."

TLDR: if you want to improve your well being, first recommendation is to start drinking a gallon of water per day. Second recommendation is to avoid the news, especially the political stuff.

That's interesting but I have to say that I don't think it's about geography specifically.

We have sensationalist news here in Europe too. Hard right wing parties gaining power by the day. Refugee homes set on fire.

All this has filtered through to me even without watching the news. I'm still aware of it without seeking it out.

If you live in the states and have a relatively good life, safety net through a good insurance and a stable job, then I don't think you should worry about the news.

Of course I can only guess. I can only speculate based on what I read about the United States on forums. It sounds awful. IT workers especially are often very vulnerable without unions.

So in the US I can totally understand the desire to stay abreast of what's going on.

One would really have to be in a position of privilege to be able to do that.

> Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

But how long does that persist? The real battle in politics today is not so much between left and right as between "fixers" and "wreckers", and if you're one of the categories of people targeted for wrecking things can potentially get very bad very fast.

We live in a world of long, carefully constructed, lean supply chains. It may not be obvious what fractures the chain and results in serious problems.

Even "good" "productive" things like YouTube videos contributed massively to my depression. Cutting off YouTube was the real kicker that changed my life for the better.

That constant dopamine cycle...might as well just do coke and at least have great sex :)

The "choose one" meme, but with "stay informed" and "stay sane."

Interesting. Recently, I saw a local news program for the first time in years, and I couldn't believe how many negative and depressing stories they ran.

I stopped reading news a long time ago. IF I click on a news to read, I usually head to the comments section first and don't even bother reading the news.

"doesn't affect me at all. "

If you consciously tune it out, how do you know it doesn't affect you?

Answer: you can't know. But it does.

buy those people a copy of this book and put your relationship on hold with them until they ready it:


More and more i feel that the old World had a natural self structuring. We deregulated it mostly.

How long have you quit the news for?

I sometimes do that but I'm never able to quit it permanently.

Yeah. So what if the Reichstag burned down? Doesn't really change my day to day life.

You are presumably being sarcastic, but in a lot of ways it illustrates the point. The Reichstag fire was a false-flag operation, used to justify an emergency decree. People who read the news were misinformed about the event.

By that time, it was already too late. They had elected a paranoid, despotic government a month before, and the fire itself was merely a fig leaf for things they were going to do anyway. They'd been using the media as propaganda for years, counting on people who read newspaper articles to be easily terrorized, and vote in a government that promised security.

It wasn't the fire that changed their lives. It was their belief in the daily media. If they took a calmer, more skeptical approach, things might have turned out better for them.

Having the privilege to live in complete ignorant bliss is nice I guess.

What could go wrong?

This assertions along the lines of "it's a privilege to be able to be politically disengaged" is just an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning.

It's also a privilege to be able to be politically engaged. Both ways of being are completely protected and legal (in America at least). And both privileges are available to all - even the disadvantaged groups that the slogan implies must be politically engaged for their own survival. It would probably serve their self interest to be more engaged, sure, but in reality they still have the choice. The ethical standard of mandatory political engagement that you're appealing to is not universally recognized or enforced. And if you think of places/times where that ethic of mandatory political life is or was enforced, do you really want to be like that?

I think the idea is that if you are privileged enough to have the time to be politically engaged, you are morally obligated to use that privilege to make society more just. Failing to do so is a moral failure. Note that this perspective could be equally applied regardless of other frames of reference, e.g. it could equally mean you feel obligated to advocate for UBI or lower taxes, whatever you think would make the biggest difference.

"is just an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning."

What a wildly defensive response to something that wasn't even directed at you. Or maybe YOU think it was and believe it, which is why you got defensive.

See, If you are rich you don't need to worry about issues that impact the poor. If you are white you don't need to worry about issues that impact blacks. If you are a man you don't need to worry about issues that impact women. If you are straight, you don't need to worry about issues that affect gays.

Sensing a pattern?

I'm criticizing the assertion on it's logical merits (or lack thereof). You're ignoring the substance of my critique, and making a borderline ad-hominem attack on me, including attempting to guilt me for my presumed identity. So yea, I'm sensing a pattern...

> You're ignoring the substance of my critique

"Substance" is being mighty generous. It was more like a temper tantrum than a critique. Shall we review?

You started with:

"...an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning."

Wow, that's quite a claim. Let's see how you back it up...

Oh wait, you didn't. You simply state "both sides are good people" in not so many words. Sure, it is an explanation, but HARDLY a logical explanation.

And then you ended with this gem:

"And if you think of places/times where that ethic of mandatory political life is or was enforced, do you really want to be like that?"

Your fallacious ethical balancing act completely ignores the substance of privilege, you simply choose to ignore the concept! Way to dodge the issue.

Whereas I gave concrete examples as to why it is a privilege to be disengaged.

So spare me your bleeding-heart puling about "weaponization" of truth. It is people like you who hide behind "logic" yet fail to actually use it that are the problem.

If something goes seriously wrong I will hear it via word of mouth. I would also notice something change in stock prices, gas prices, and many other vital signs of the hyper-connected global economy that I interact with every day. I guess if everyone I ever talk to follows me in quitting the news, I will consider checking it occasionally.

I don't watch the news. Stopped 4 years ago.

If something is important enough, someone within my circle will inform me of it.

Most things on the news is terrible for you, why? Because the majority of stuff you can't actually action and your brain processes it as a threat I.e war in the middle east.

Think globally, act locally.


What degree of practical responsibility does a person in Brazil have for something bad happening to someone in Sierra Leone?

Abstaining from frequent infotainment aka "news" does not equate to being ignorant of important things happening in the world, nor does it equate to abdicating responsibility for all the things you can practically influence.

> What degree of practical responsibility does a person in Brazil have for something bad happening to someone in Sierra Leone?

That's a great example. The hypothetical Brazilian could vote for a politician that does not promote burning the rainforest [1], which contributes to the negative effects of climate change on the people of Sierra Leone [2]

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49450925

[2] https://www.sl.undp.org/content/sierraleone/en/home/presscen...

How does abstaining from watching the news prevent someone from being able to vote for a politician that claims to care about climate change?

How would you know about the issues if you abstained from the news?

I see these discussions play out all the time: one person says "my life is better since I stopped paying attention to mainstream news"; others indignantly respond with things like "how privileged you must be to not have to care what's going on in the world", and "how will you be able to make good decisions on who to vote for?".

This line of argument conveniently sidesteps the question of whether mainstream news is the best way to find out what is going on in the world or learn about electoral candidates.

It can be reasonably argued that allowing one's self to be influenced (or, manipulated) by mainstream news is likely more of a hindrance than a help in making good decisions or taking meaningful action to improve the world or support/elect good candidates.

By avoiding the day-to-day barrage, one is better able to focus their attention and energy on things that are important and impactful.

There are plenty of ways to learn about what is going on in the world and find out about electoral candidates, outside the corporate media circus.

Go to that candidate's website. Read books about them. Check their voting record.

It's far from complete ignorant bliss, things aren't that black and white.

Another commenter said I would have missed the nationalist party in germany starting to harass jews if I didn't watch the news. My reply below:

I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.

Like I said, some news manages to filter through to me. And it's often completely pointless.

For example Youtube sometimes recommends news from my country to me, even if I never watch it. in 2019 I can remember them recommending news about some missing girl up north. But I had to hear from my friends about a handicapped guy who was shot 25 times by the police for playing with a toy gun. They didn't recommend that one.

I do vote btw. Since I don't consider myself capable of keeping up with politics I vote with my instincts, as most others. I either vote for the social democrats/left or the green party.

I don't fuss over details or little missteps they might have done. I believe the green party has the right direction and their voice needs to be stronger in parliament. Equally I believe the left still cares about workers rights and unions.

Complete ignorance is the conclusion of that line of thinking. The fact that this person hears "some" news is only an unfortunate consequence of existing in a world with other people. If they could they would remove that from their lives too so they could be even happier.

Complete ignorance was the premise of my remark so it doesn't really make sense to say it's far from complete ignorance.

>And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.

The fact that it doesn't affect you means you're in an incredibly privileged position in your country, your life is not the same as everyone else's.

How would somebody less privileged be negatively affected by not knowing about the news? Mind you, it's not about being affected by what's in the news, of course you're affected when the government decides on a new policy ... but how does knowing about it on the same day or in the same hour mitigate that?

" of course you're affected when the government decides on a new policy ... but how does knowing about it on the same day or in the same hour mitigate that?"

It saves people a nasty surprise when the policies they relied upon fall out from under them, or to try and head off future issues by calling up their representatives. For example, I was able to call up my representative regarding changes in immigration policy. Because other people aren't paying attention and don't call their representatives, I actually have an outsized voice and influence on the matter!

Policies don't disappear the very next day, though. It's not that somebody that relies on some policy will be left stranded at the bus stop because he didn't watch the news that day that the program has been canceled.

RE becoming politically active: it's good to be informed, I totally agree. But that's not something you get from the news. I can't imagine you watching CNN and saying "whaaaaaat? I'm going to call my representative right now". You'll usually have that filtered by whatever organization/initiative you delegate that to. They will relay the important stuff to you and ask you to become active. That's very different from watching the news imho.

I actually do in fact read a few news sources to get a pulse on local happenings and call my representative upon situations like becoming a sanctuary city.

I know, imagine if social security went away because hezbollah was killing people. Definitely need to pay attention in case that happens!

How does consuming the news on a delayed basis address the issue of being distressed by the news?

Most things aren't consumed on a delayed basis, because they turn out to be irrelevant. News is a fast-paced thing, like a soap opera. I've never seen anyone binge watch a year of soap opera, and it's similar for the news.

Use a filter by reading a monthly or quarterly publication. You will get the information (that's still considered print-worthy after the next news cycle), but not the hectic, emotional manipulation and outrage.

I open facebook for 2 minutes a week and scroll through my relatives' baby and pet pictures. I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people

Twitter I would understand a little better. It's such a tar pit of negative energy, insults, rage bait, etc

I'm very happy that there are those that can interact with Facebook without negative side effects. If you're in that category, I hope the site adds value to you and you enjoy it.

I can't. Yes, it's a failure on me, but my experience is better without Facebook in my life.

You mention negativity, and that's part of it. I saw a steady stream of "the world's on fire" type posts. The other side, the rosy view of my friends and family also wasn't great. It was a steady stream of my brain using this as a chance to remind me I can't live up to these people, that I'm falling behind, and that in general, I suck.

It's not true. I could have crafted an equal fantasy and posted it, but I'm not that person. I could let the positive and negative posts go without influencing my mental well-being, but I'm apparently not that person.

All of this is a long way of saying, for me, Facebook is baggage I had to carry around with me. I didn't need to open it, but I knew it was there, ready to mock me at any time. Now my account is gone, and that bit of unnecessary baggage is gone. It added nothing to my life, only made it worse.

It sounds like your two feeds are very different. I didn’t like facebook, then unfollowed everyone except immediate family. It’s nice now! Not distracting, occasional baby pictures.

One of facebook’s worst long run mistakes was optimizing for engagement vs. enjoyment. It boosts metrics but makes people quit or go cold turkey.

Instagram has never felt like that.

Facebook doesn't care about enjoyment. They want to maximize eyes on the screen time and sell that for maximum ad revenue. If you are someone who would like to spend 5 minutes a week on Facebook catching up with friends they do not care about you.

Possible. But I used facebook a lot more when I enjoyed it. I enjoy instagram now for example and use it a lot.

Facebook showed me stuff I didn’t care about it that aggravated me, so I stopped using it. now I’m in thE 5 min a week category. But I’d rather follow more people, but only the important stuff

They may not care about you, but that doesn't mean we can't mold it to meet our needs.

I try to behave on Facebook like it's 2005 again, before the outrage or glamour.

That being said I think it's totally reasonable that the difficulty each of us experiences in trying to exert such control will vary.

My family only reposts articles and never has anything to say themselves.

Sounds like a problem with your family and not Facebook. But quitting Facebook will indeed help you distance yourself from all of that, so, I guess, it is still a net benefit.

Right, which is why the result in the headline seems misdirected. "Facebook quitters" are, in fact, a special group. They/you recognized problems that were addressed by quitting facebook! And the study found that when this population removes something they feel is a problem, they feel better. That's... not really surprising, if you think about it. And importantly, it's not a result that says "social media will make everyone feel bad".

I'm one of the normies like the grandparent comment. I don't use Facebook all that much, and most of what I see there is just a stream of banal life events from a selection of people that I'd otherwise not hear from. Most of it isn't that interesting directly, but I'll admit that my life is enriched by retaining these relationships I'd otherwise have dropped. It's definitely not something I feel bad after using.

Obviously that's not your experience, and there's nothing wrong with that. Certainly you shouldn't be forced to use this platform if it makes you unhappy. Really this just goes down to "people are all different and we all have to find our paths through the world". Technology changes the battlefield a little at the margins, but it hasn't changed the war.

> most of what I see there is just a stream of banal life events from a selection of people that I'd otherwise not hear from

This was part of the problem for me; it made me think I had more friends than I actually did. What I really had was an app that showed me what everyone I used to know at some point was up to, and many of us start to mistake that for friendship. At some point I had the epiphany that I don't really know the kids from my high school friend circle anymore, and keeping up with them doesn't improve my life. We had our time, the friendship fizzled out as they tend to do, and the healthiest thing for me was to just move on.

My life improved after quitting Facebook because it forced me to be more intentional with who I spend my time on. Rather than passively blasting everyone's news feed with something, I send it individually to the people I want to see it. It makes me be an active participant in friendships, which is something I've had trouble with (at least when using Facebook).

You just changed my mind a little about Facebook. I mean, I still think they’re a threat to democracy, but you made me see the value of a feed with a small group of people.

This is an interesting comment to me. Your conscious mind says you received no value, when reflecting. Yet your behavior indicated that you got enough value to create a compulsion.

What a funny world we live in, in our heads.

>your conscious mind says you received no value, when reflecting. Yet your behavior indicated that you got enough value to create a compulsion

well social media is designed to give you little dopamine hits all the time and we all know when we think about it for a second that the constant, cheap stimulation is bad, but it also hijacks our lizard brains and it's designed to work that way.

The big problem I think is that we let the designers of these applications get away with exactly the 'your preferences indicate you like it' line, well the same applies to gamblers in a casino.

I mean, the same can be said about gambling.

I refused to get on FB for many years, until I was finally convinced to do it. I never did more than post funny pictures I found around the internet.

And then the next political cycle hit and I straight up quit. I found the political ads more offensive than anything, and I've never been back since.

FB is a terrible place, ignore the poster you're responding to because they very well could be putting on airs while you're trying to be more honest about things. That's the nature of social media, of which HN is included.

I drink one glass of fine red wine once a week while having a nice conversation with a good friend. On other occasions I have a shot of strong brandy before stepping out on a cold winter evening. I don't get how alcohol is such a specter of misery for some people.

Similarly: Alcohol quitters report more life satisfaction, less depression, and anxiety

Implicit in your statement is the proposition that quitters are a self-selected group of people with a disordered consumption pattern - a moderate social drinker is not going to quit.

But I do recall an instance where everyone in some college class or something were supposed to abstain from social media for a week, whether they had a healthy relationship with it or not and the group reported substantial increases in life satisfaction.

Without a reference, this comment doesn’t indicate anything.

If I asked you to abstain from any behavior for a week to see if it would improve your life... I bet most studies would show abstention helped.

The relevant question is how this intervention helped, compared to other interventions that could be seen as similar. Eg, if you didn’t watch tv for a week, how would you feel?

I don't have a TV, I only watch at other peoples places. I think I'd feel worse if I became "that guy" and started having issues with it.

I don't get how alcohol quitters experience more life satisfaction, less depression, and anxiety.

(Also, worst Oxford comma ever...)

Actually, those who drink in moderation are more successful and happy than those who quit.

So what you're saying is people without an addiction are happier than people who are addicted? Shocking stuff

What I'm saying is that the analogy of alcohol is not helpful.

Social Networking is not inherently toxic, and quitting many things: sugar, television, even meat, might have the similar effects for some small group of people.

In fact, the entire thread is based on three levels of indirection of misinformation: the Bloomberg article misquoted the paper, and the short-summary referencing Bloomberg made it worse.

Here is the summary of the findings [1]:

"We find that deactivating Facebook for the four weeks before the 2018 US midterm election (i) reduced online activity while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone and socializing with family and friends; (ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization; (iii) increased subjective well-being; and (iv) caused a large persistent reduction in post-experiment Facebook use"

So that's a little bit more information now isn't it? And completely conflates the Facebook/wellbeing issue with a host of other things.

Most poignantly, stopping Facebook usage reduced the amount of factual knowledge a person had access too. So maybe that's not so good?

Maybe by 'removing Facebook' people are simply a little bit more removed from the issues of the day (like elections) many of which can be contentious.

So 'ignorance is bliss' is the result of the study? Or is it really something materially related to Social Networking.

I think we'll need to do some more studying to find out.

[] http://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/facebook.pdf

Or that people who perceive themselves as doing something unhealthy may feel better in a short window after they make a change they think will makes them happier?

How can we distinguish the effect from a general “I’m making a change” groundswell of feel goodery?

I believe they have re-run the study or further examined it and determined that the causality is reversed.

Picking up moderate drinking isn't going to make you healthier / more successful.

It's just that successful people tend to be healthier and also are more likely to have a healthy relationship with alcohol.

If this is the case, quitting drinking will still not likely yield 'more happiness' ergo, the fact remains.

When you quit Facebook do you puke for 5 days straight and shake violently all the while?

I can't upvote a second time, but this was a very good use of analogy. I am going to save this for later.

Fair point, but the analogy is off: the feeds aren’t the same. Most people don’t get too anxious about relatives babies and pets.

It’s like one person has juice and the other has brandy.

You know what's off ? GP's comment about how he doesn't get why and how Facebook's usage is problematic for some. On HN. Where we have been talking about every aspects of Facebook every 6th submissions for years.


Both can be addictions whose severity range can range from inconsequential, to minor, to debilitating, to life-ending.

One is a physical dependence, the other is a psychological dependence.


Well now we are getting into regulating dopamine responses, which is too broad to apply to a single website which is probably why the article doesn't have a source.

This article is just a hit piece. This is the trash on HN these days.

Almost everyone has uncontrollable mental patterns. Some are more self destructive than others.

If there's one truth to social networks its that everyone's experiences on them are different, based on who you're connected to, where you grew up, what life stage you're in, and whether you have interests adjacent to toxic or problematic spaces. It's quite similar to the adage "you are the average of the five people you know best", but on a global scale. Radically different experiences can emerge from the same platform.

Personally, my experiences on FB are extremely tame and similar to yours. However I intentionally sabotaged my experience by unfollowing nearly everyone several years ago. Even my rather fallow feed is an engine of engagement and addictive impulse, in part because of years of conditioning myself to go there when I was bored.

Some people are more heavily integrated into the platform. My SO is a part of multiple groups based around common hobbies/preference in memes. Although there's a lot of good content in these groups they can get pretty toxic. Also, seeing your immediate family post political rants/flame other family members or random people on the internet can be disheartening.

I think if you have basic bitch-ass friend who are always posting about "living their #bestlife" and/or are at risk of starting drama, you're in for a shitty time on Facebook. More so if you're like this yourself.

People with lives to lead off social media have fewer of these problems.

Don't really remember how, but my family switched to using a single snapchat group to share baby and pet pics, which imo works better for that use case. Even taught my grandmother how to open stories, even if she sometimes gets lost when they update the app. Maybe not much better than FB on most issues, but it's nice to get in and out without the facebook timesink, and these kids (probably) don't have to worry about embarrassing pictures on the public internet forever.

GroupMe is another alternative which works similarly. Have two sets of social groups which use that instead of Facebook.

My FB experience is like yours, but I had to mute friends and family who are perpetually outraged, as well as those who ask for help every day on things like which shoelaces to buy. I also raised the feed prominence for people who rarely post.

Similarly for Twitter, I don't follow people who post ragebait or feel the need to comment on everything.

I'm just like you. Friends' family, dogs, humor posts. I've aggressively unfollowed connections who exhibit/show behavior/posts/lifestyles I don't want to be exposed to.

Take control of your social media. It's great!

People can feel obligated to post those pictures. There's social pressure to respond to posts. Deleting Facebook can be easier than the social friction of using it but breaking perceived social obligations.

Right. My use of Facebook is similar. I almost never look at my 'feed'. I search on specific people and look at what they post, but on variable intervals. I'll look at a few people's posts once a day. Others, once a week, etc.

> I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people

I understand what you're saying; it doesn't have much sway over me either. But it does over a lot of other folks, by design. And that pull is very real, and quite powerful.

> I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people

That's fine, great even, but do you believe those people are reporting their own experiences accurately?

> Twitter I would understand a little better. It's such a tar pit of negative energy, insults, rage bait, etc

And orange website isn't?

twitter is mostly anonymous users shitposting and dunking on each other.

facebook is all your friends' racist friends yelling at you, interspersed with bizarre ads for products you'll never buy and sponsored links to phony news sites. it's a completely different dynamic and it's much more insidious.

Yeah I'm really confused by the whole "my life got so much better when I got off FB" trope. I don't spend a lot of time on Facebook, but my time spent there is generally pretty positive - I really enjoy getting updates from my friends and family and seeing their photos.

I'm confused by it too, but I see it in some members of my family. Full grown, middle aged adults, absolutely ADDICTED to their Facebook feed. Sitting in a room full of people and glued to Facebook. I don't get it, but I can say without adult that those who are addicted to FB are also the most unhappy. So I see that correlation in my own life. I don't know that FB causes or contributes to their unhappiness, or if maybe it's an escape for them, but I see it.

There a 'depressing' side of passive information intake. It satisfies but thinly. If your life is not balanced you can kinda get stuck on thin, aptly named, feed.

I don't get it either. Then again I don't get how Twitter or any of social media site could be either.. thin skin I guess.

There are plenty of people who claim (Facebook|Twitter) is what you make of it.

But it seems to me that there's a substantive difference between the default-circles of Facebook where you see what your 'friends' post/share, and the default-broadcast of Twitter where more things are shouted publicly to the ether.

To be sure, posts on either can be 100% public, and, in theory, you only see what you 'follow' on Twitter, but the design of the platforms is very different, and they have very different incentive structures. (Despite Facebook's incessant drive to increase engagement).

depends on which bubble you find yourself in, I guess.

And I think depression and anxiety comes more from all the terrible "news" you get from around the world, it probably applies to "news" in general.

not sure if you're being flippant re: 2 minutes but that's almost certainly undersold. you'll have to forgive me but i'm extremely skeptical of that claim if made seriously.

Righto. I've found that I'm much happier and have more "life satisfaction" when I use Facebook.

But I also use Facebook primarily for organizing events and group activities.

Some steps for making Facebook more manageable:

1. Deliberately go through and prune your friends list down to people you actually interact with or care about updates from

2. Any time someone shares something you think is dumb, click on the corner of the post and select "Hide all from <page>". This lets you hide anything your friends share from various meme sites without blocking their legitimate posts

3. Any time you see an ad for a product you don't care about or don't want to see, click "Hide ad" then it will pop up a dialog and you can select "Hide all ads from <company>"

4. Go through your "liked" pages and unlike / unfollow any that are irrelevant to you.

I do all of the above and Facebook often just stops loading content for me after the first 20 or so posts.

My wife does none of the above and can easily scroll for an hour without reaching an end to the content.

After a friend, who always posted on social media about how great their life was going, suddenly committed suicide, I quit all social media and never looked back. That was two years ago and I don’t miss any of it. On social media there is a sort of relentless peer pressure to come across as having a perfect life and I think that’s really unhealthy. I have found that having sincere relationships with a few good friends outweighs a bunch of vapid “likes” from a horde of casual acquaintances.

I'd say Facebook brings out the Narcissus in all of us. Narcissus was cursed by Nemesis to become a flower.

from wikipedia:

> One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis (as an aspect of Aphrodite[4]), the goddess of revenge, noticed this behaviour after learning the story and decided to punish Narcissus. Once, during the summer, he was getting thirsty after hunting, and the goddess lured him to a pool where he leaned upon the water and saw himself in the bloom of youth. Narcissus did not realize it was merely his own reflection and fell deeply in love with it, as if it were somebody else. Unable to leave the allure of his image, he eventually realized that his love could not be reciprocated and he melted away from the fire of passion burning inside him, eventually turning into a gold and white flower.

I use FB almost exclusively for news about the Middle East, especially Syria where the Assad regime actively targets journalists who tell the truth about what is happening there and very few Western journalists are going into the areas the regime is bombing. I have vowed to not use FB once the regime is gone, people can gather freely, and real news media can operate openly.

My FB feed is mostly depressing these days, as it is filled with images of (among other things) maimed and murdered children. I can see how avoiding that would probably make me happier and more productive, but FB also helps me stay up to date on amazing humanitarian work being done in liberated areas. I also feel that burying my head in the sand would be a betrayal of my fellow Syrians who have, and still are, sacrificing so that my children as well as theirs won’t have to fear state terrorism.

You got to be kidding me. You "exclusively" rely on FB for news? That's like trusting a Nigerian scammer with your money!

> You got to be kidding me. You rely on FB "exclusively" for news? That's like trusting a Nigerian scammer with your money!

Context is important. In this case, he actually has some pretty defensible reasons for using Facebook this way: active suppression of local independent journalists and low activity by independent Western journalists. My guess is his alternative to Facebook is probably some pro-Assad propaganda rag. As bad as Facebook is, that's worse.

Your reaction would be more appropriate for someone chose to rely on FB for news about the US or Western Europe.

al jazeera is a perfectly good source of real middle east news. The economist isn't bad. Facebook is entirely unreliable as a news source because for every real post that shows you how things really are, you get two lies.

As just one measure, FB themselves deleted over 3 Billion fake accounts between april and sept last year. These are accounts that provided a phone number for verification. The disinformation operations on that site are like nothing anyone has ever seen.

Al Jazeera is the opposite of reputable journalism. Just look into their ties with the government's of the oil producing Arab States as well as their support for the OIC

They're also responsible for things like extremely biased reporting against Myanmar (no reporting about Ang sang su kyis speech at the genocide tribunal except "she didn't say the word rohinga!"). It's no surprise that there's also a strong campaign by the OIC to slander Myanmar which is running concurrently

That's not how I interpreted it. I thought he meant that he didn't use Facebook for other things.

Yes, your interpretation is correct.

One of the benefits of social media is supposed to be transparency, and I believe that. However, isn't it an indictment of global callousness that so many people have seen Assad's destruction of Syria and no one is helping? In fact, Russia's bot armies far outnumber Syrian refugees on Facebook, and they're spreading confusion on the whole situation. They're making it seem like Syria is some sectarian black hole, where no one is innocent, and global action will accomplish nothing. That keeps everyone else out, Russia and Iran in, and leaves Syrians to be genocided day in and day out. More people rallied behind Kony 2012, even though it was a campaign of lies. The American public has been successfully and systematically jaded into glossing over the whole Syrian tragedy.

Facebook is probably a net-negative for Syrians all things considered. Your social network may know the truth of who is committing 98% of the crimes, who invited ISIS/terrorists into Syria, and who is responsible for a modern-day genocide (half a million people erased from existence so far), but unfortunately that's not the case for the vast majority of people.

After Syria is destroyed, the history books will ask: how did we allow that to happen? What happened to Never Again? Social media will be part of the answer. We are reduced to tears when watching a film about Rwanda, and merely confused when hearing about Syria. Dictators love it when you are confused, because truth is their greatest enemy. In a state of confusion, the truth is not fully resolved. Moral clarity is dead. The solution starts with caring strongly about this problem. Only then can we begin to address it.

I would be pleasantly surprised if we're not both downvoted. You have my solidarity. I know how hard it is for you to receive zero empathy, and sometimes even aggression, when speaking the truth of who slaughtered your people and deprived you of your country. Keep telling the truth regardless. Part of the problem (of confusion and jadedness) inadvertently originated in the tech industry, and part of the solution will come from the tech industry. It won't know or care about the issue until victims come forth and make the problem clear. The tech industry needs to hear your voice. Creating a tool that is, on net, an accessory to perpetrators of genocide and manipulators of the public, without fixing it, is very, very problematic. Separately, Youtube is deleting video evidence of the genocide (even though it said it doesn't mean to). Many of the posters of those videos are no longer alive, or not in a situation where they can raise a dispute with Youtube. That is perfectly legal, and almost noone knows or cares.


FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, are you listening? A GENOCIDE is going on. Facebook, your platform is being leveraged by the perpetrators of genocide as a modern-day Pravda of epic proportions. Google/Youtube, you are continuing to delete critical video evidence of the genocide from your servers forever even though activists put you on notice. Help.

Honestly the real reason why Americans don't care is that many absolutely, unconsciously or consciously, believe that syrians (and those not from a first world country) are subhuman. I don't see a world without these horrors until Americans can gain an authentic ethic of compassion and can humanize the subaltern others "over there" which is honestly pretty fricken unlikely

The US had a moment to help when the Free Syrian Army existed in the first year or so of the conflict. For some reason, our leaders had cold feet and allowed our natural ally to be wiped out.

The UN was hamstrung by Russia and China's veto power.

No smaller power was willing to take on Russia in a proxy war.

Even beyond militaristic action, there are so many low hanging fruit that weren't picked. It took until 2019 to sanction any appreciable number of people in the Syrian regime. Many relatives and employees of the Syrian regime are happily flying back and forth between Damascus and Europe. Their illicit assets are safely parked in foreign bank accounts. They're sending their kids to LA and San Francisco, buying $2M homes with straight cash and going to the best private schools. Severe sanctions should have hit anyone even remotely involved with the Syrian government as soon as it became clear how many innocent people were going to be killed. Foreign assets should have been seized as damages to be distributed to the Syrian people in the future.

Sure, but I find these sorts of sanctions to be ineffective at the stated goals of preventing killings, etc. And Russia and China, at least, were not planning to participate, leaving a wide open avenue. The UNSC couldn't pass sanctions because of their vetoes.

America and Europe can only be hamstrung by Russia's veto if they allow that to happen. There are many global measures that could have helped the Syrian people outside of any action by the UN Security Council. Nonetheless, I agree with you that America left a void of leadership, and that allowed Russia to walk in unimpeded. The Syrian people were about to oust their dictator until Russia came in with reinforcements. My point is, America wouldn't have even needed to send in the Air Force. The most important course of action would have been to prevent Russian entry. That could entail a guarantee that "if Russia or Iran enters Syria, we will create a civilian safe zone using the Air Force." The safe zone would have both saved civilian life and protected the FSA from aerial bombardment.

Arming FSA was a good option for much longer than just the first year (and still is). Obama’s advisors (including Clinton at State and Panetta at DoD) advocated this, but were overruled. A large factor was his overwhelming desire to secure a deal with Iran, which even caused him to walk back from his “red line” when Assad used chemical weapons in 2013.

The pattern you describe is very similar to what happened in Europe around WWII. Places like Poland and Slovakia produced local uprisings (against the Nazis). The Allies basically sat idly by while those got crushed, enabling the Soviets to then move in and create the Eastern Bloc.

This is insane. I had no idea it was that bad. Do you have any sources where I could learn more?

Assad's torture dungeons - https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/ma...

Mass arbitrary execution - https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/middleeast/syria-executions-a...

Rape and sexual violence used for political means - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/16...

Deliberate Syrian & Russian Air Force targeting of hospitals and systematic erasure of medical personnel - https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/03/syrian-and...

Chemical weapons used to gas civilian neighborhoods, including many children, even after the supposed removal of the chemical weapon stockpile (which earned Obama praise and earned the OPCW a Nobel Prize):

- https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/06/u-n-commission-calls-ou...

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5bM8kTOsOk (warning: disturbing footage of gassed kids)

Assad inviting terrorists into the country to use them to confuse the world, slander protesters, and obfuscate the genocide - https://www.thedailybeast.com/assad-henchman-heres-how-we-bu...

"Over 500,000 Syrians have been killed and 13 million Syrians have been forced from their homes in the worst humanitarian crisis since the World War II" - Holocaust Museum (emphasis added, that really means something coming from the Holocaust Museum) - https://www.ushmm.org/information/press/press-releases/museu...

and Assad/Russia want people to believe that "the alternative is worse." The alternative is self-rule by the sweet, generous, loving people of Syria. Somehow, a social media campaign has convinced the world otherwise. Saying that there is a worse alternative, when half a million Syrians were killed (and counting), is to reduce Syrians to subhumans. That is especially insulting given that the alternative is often cited as "ISIS," even though Assad is the one who invited ISIS into the country, and the primary victims of ISIS were Syrians.

Pravda is in our Facebook news feed, and that of our friends whom influence our opinions.

Thank you for your kind sentiments! I do what I can. I think most decent people who aren’t blinded by ideology are sympathetic when they find out what is going on. Two Syrian documentaries made it to the Oscars this Sunday, although disappointingly a film with an Obama association was given the prize.

I think it’s important to distinguish between regular people on the one hand and politicians and bureaucrats on the other. I still have faith in a large section of humanity, which sees these atrocities and is outraged by them, but often feels powerless to stop them.

For those curious, here is a free link to For Sama, one of the Oscar-nominated documentaries mentioned: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/for-sama/

It is also available on the PBS Video app. It has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

I haven't logged in to Facebook for about three years. When that 'off-Facebook data we have on you' page was released recently, I worked up the courage* to try to login, see it, and then finally 'delete' my account.

(*I've been slightly concerned that it will be depressing one way or the other, either three years' messages and invitations to things I missed, or little of that! Since I just sort of stopped logging in, I never posted that I wasn't using it for example.)

But I couldn't login. Facebook wanted me to prove my identity by contacting a set of my 'friends' that it chose, and I had no idea who they were. The only other option was to upload a scan of my passport, which felt a bit much considering my only aim was to get off properly and be appalled at the data it already has on me.

Completely insane to me that a social networking website wants to see your passport. If that isn’t some Gibson-esque cyberpunk dystopian elements creeping into our real world, then I don’t know what is.

That's how they prevent you from deleting the data, so they can keep it.

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