Hey, everybody. I’ve been screening potential books for our December pick of the #HRBookClub. Lots of good books out there from excellent HR writers, but I’ve balked at some of the more traditional authors and selections because nobody has time to read 300 pages on the best performance management strategies during the holidays.
And we can’t read Brené Brown more than once in a year.
Our December #HRBookClub Pick is Awesome
I found a book called “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier and fell in love. It’s not a book that tells you how to find wellbeing and wellness by doing a digital detox. The author urges you to delete your social media accounts for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it’s the only way to send a message to Silicon Valley that they’ve designed platforms that are addictive, manipulative, and modifying our behaviors in harmful ways.
This book is a funny, thoughtful, and quick read. And it lays out the bare facts: it’s not the internet that’s killing us, but, instead, for-profit platforms like Facebook and Instagram that are designed to change our behaviors and rent our data without our explicit consent or understanding of what the hell is happening.
Is It As Bad as We Think?
Honestly, it’s worse. Jaron Lanier is a pioneer of the real internet, and he makes the case that these platforms are built on algorithms that do more than advertise to us; they manipulate our behaviors online and offline with a crippling impact on society. And in ten quick examples, he shows us how — even if we enjoy being on Twitter and WhatsApp and Snap without drama — we’re a cog in the wheel of a system we barely understand.
Ugh, right? Happy holidays, my friends, I know this all sounds depressing. Especially since Lanier argues most of us are addicted to the “bummer” platforms, and the answer to addiction isn’t a little less of the habit. It’s total abstinence. Want to feel better and force Silicon Valley into designing social networks that don’t manipulate its users? Delete your account.
Isn’t Deleting Facebook a Privilege?
Many HR professionals have told me that deleting Facebook and LinkedIn and Instagram is a privilege they can’t afford. These are the very same individuals who, ten years ago, laughed me off stages across America when I talked about the impact of digitization on HR.
Whatever, I’m not (all that) bitter, but I’m just saying that Lanier makes a compelling case for living a life on the internet but without being on bummer platforms that are meant to cajole you into acting like an inauthentic version of yourself to separate you from your money.
You might not be able to live without a smartphone, but you can live without social media.
What About You, Laurie?
After reading this book, I’m almost ready to delete my social media accounts. Except, dammit, I’m writing a book. How do I get the word out without feeding the beast?
I have no idea. I feel stuck. But I went back and erased my old tweets because it broke my heart to see how a social platform built on algorithms brought out the worst aspects of my personality. And I’ve been using a screen timer on my iPhone and have my social media usage down to less than two hours each day.
But that’s still a lot.
I’ll go first and tell you how to delete your social media accounts; however, until I can find a way to write a book and “be known” and accessible to people without being on these platforms, I’ll probably be on my social accounts.
But I’m thinking differently, which is what a good book does!
I’ll be posting quotes and ideas from the book throughout the rest of December. If you’re interested in living a better life in 2019, join me in reading “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier.
Who knows? Maybe you won’t see me online in 2019, after all.
(Probably not. I’m addicted and stuck. But I’m trying! You should, too.)