This book changed my life for the better, so I want to spread the love and do recommend that people at least consider listening to the short audiobook version of (around 5 hours). Consider whether your life is better or worse with the presence of social media as-is.
The decision is up to you, of course, as the author makes clear from the get-go. The author (or me) telling you what do is no better than social media giants manipulating you for their own gain – one of the main points of the book.
For me, Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments nudged me over into finally deleting most of my social media accounts. I permanently deleted Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandsintown, and several open website accounts that didn’t benefit me. I kept others, such as Goodreads, TV Time, and Mastadon (federated social-networking).
Why did I keep some and not others?
Taking this book’s advice, I got rid of ones that turned me into a jerk or made me feel bad. I kept ones that were edifying or made me feel like me. (He’s not against social media, just a lot of the things that currently come with it.) For the networks I liked, I still had to strongly consider whether I accepted being the product of the social media site, as opposed to the client (advertisers, or as the author says, “manipulators”).
Maybe I sound like a tin-hat type person so far, but I’m really not. I work remote and therefore am in front of screens a lot, have spent time online since the mid-90s back in the dial-up message board days, and love a lot of what the internet can do. Like Lanier, I’m a “tech optimist”. I just don’t like how social media often makes me feel.
In this book, the author articulates why social media makes us feel bad. A lot of it has to do with us being the product, not the customers, of social media. Our data is gathered and sifted and used by purchasers in order to influence our behavior, somewhat amorally at best. It’s not necessarily some big evil plan, it’s just a lack of planning or acceptance of implications at all. It’s almost worse that way – that our behavior is being modified for clicks for the highest bidders, not for a true cause.
Again, I’m not a tin-hat person. The author is not really a tin-hat person, either. He was a part of forming Internet 2.0 and no stranger to Silicon Valley. He also frequently cites current and ex-employees of Facebook et al, people who have figured out the downside to social media and have decided to either unplug from it or thoughtfully control their use of it.
TL;DR: I read this book, got off a lot of social media permanently, and now I’m happier and more at ease.