Lanier’s Social Media Ultimatum

Jaron Lanier argues that you have two choices: delete all your social media accounts or fully educate yourself on how your brain being getting hijacked.

People have to take responsibility to become literate in a new way if they are going to use the technology at all. So if you just can’t find it in yourselves to delete all your social media accounts, then you must take it upon yourself to really learn how it works. Learn how the addiction cycle works. Learn how the manipulation works. Become aware of it. If you can’t make one of those two choices you’re becoming a drone and you’re not really functioning as a citizen in the new world. I have to be very blunt about that. Those are the choices available to you. There are no others. (Listen at 21:16)

Digital illiteracy leaves people increasingly vulnerable to corporations like Facebook that have systematically fine-tuned their algorithms for stealing, trading, and selling attention. As in many cases of exploitation, the least educated are the first subsumed. Lanier’s stark ultimatum is good advice: learn everything you can about how these systems are taking advantage of you or get the hell out. (The third ‘default option’ isn’t a viable option at all: become a mindless, scrolling automaton, endlessly seeking the next ping, like a pigeon in a B.F. Skinner experiment.)

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