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During my book leave, I took a social media sabbatical. No reading Facebook. No reading Twitter. And you know what? It was great. I felt able to think more clearly, and listen more closely, than had been true in years. I’m not sure that was all because of social media — I was also hanging back from much of the news — but I’m certain the blackout helped.
The experience of coming back, and reopening myself to the feeds and the tweets and the algorithms, has been profound. It feels like, suddenly, someone is following me around and shouting in my ear. Sometimes what they’re shouting is important, or funny, or incisive. Sometimes it’s angry, insulting, or just irrelevant. Sometimes it’s just a cry for attention — Look at me! Post to me! Don’t let your competitors get all the likes and retweets!
I’ve been thinking, a lot, about how I want to engage with social media going forward. And so I called Jaron Lanier. Lanier’s been on this podcast before. Our previous conversation — about virtual reality and the ways the internet went awry from its early utopian ideals — is one of my favorites. But his new book is particularly relevant to me. It’s called Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and so I asked him on the show to make the case that I should, in fact, delete all my social media accounts right now, and that you should, too.