‘Tune out if you don’t want to get programmed’

I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories. And so I usually regard anything coming out of the Anonymous collective with quite a bit of suspicion. But this video, all fifteen minutes of it, is pretty compelling.

In it, Chamath Palihapitiya, former senior Facebook exec, clearly lays out (edited of course!) his fears and concerns about social media, and its impact on society.

Much of these concerns are well known, but the line about how social media, the ‘dopamine economy’ and its discontents are causing us to co-operate less and and think in a much more short termist way, really hit home with me.

Here’s a few quotes that stand out from the YouTube video below.

“Tune it out if you don’t want to get programmed”

“There is a reason Steve Jobs was not on social media”

“The business model of the (social) internet is broken”

Chamath Palihapitiya‘s concerns about the downside of social media include:

  • Popularity – dopamine feedback loops
  • Civil discourse and co-operation
  • Confidence and m.ental health
  • Popularity vs. Truth in a societal sense
  • Influence bought by money
  • How we behave by and between each other
  • Rewiring our brains, psychology and behaviours
  • All this leads to an endless detached, short termist society

Decide for yourself. It’s made me remove social media from my phone at least, and I stay away from Facebook and Instagram far more than I used to. Twitter too, I ought to avoid more. It’s hard when we are so used to being connected, but clearly finding that balance is absolutely key. Here’s the video:

And here’s a good summary of the opportunities we’ve been given by social media, and the challenges we face. Also below from Wikipedia:

“In November 2017, Palihapitiya revealed that, for ethical reasons, he regrets having helped Facebook to become the largest social media platform.[22] He said, “[t]he short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other. I can’t control them. I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit”.[23][24] Following criticism from Facebook for his remarks, Palihapitiya subsequently clarified, “I genuinely believe that Facebook is a force for good in the world, so I’d like to expand on my comments…My comments were meant to start an important conversation, not to criticize one company — particularly one I love. In 2017, many of us have grappled with the unintended consequences of the products we’ve built. Social media platforms in particular have been used and abused in ways that we, their architects, never imagined. Much blame has been thrown and guilt felt, but the important thing is what we as an industry do now to ensure that our impact on society continues to be a positive one.””