This is not a post criticizing social media, on the contrary, it’s intention is to show my journey from being completely opposed to them, up to the recent date I understood why they are not completely evil. In summary, what changed in me was the angle, the point of view, from which I watched them.
If you look at them like a place to share experiences and get friends, chances are that you end up in the side of those who pay. If, on the other hand, you look at them as a place to reach the attention of hundreds of people and show them a message of your own interest for a few seconds, chances are you end up in the side of those who get paid.
Social media platforms are not for socializing, they are for selling products.
Going all into Privacy mode
During the first few weeks of the COVID pandemic in February 2020, a significant number of people found themselves without anything to do during the day, included myself. Everything was being organized to work from home, but no rules were really established yet. Thus, many of us just got in the couch and spend the day looking at social media, streaming, YouTube, etc… getting on our feet only to put in practice that new baking bread technique we just learned, and all sort of weird things we did.
From my point of view, what happened then was that we found ourselves with so much free time, and absolutely nothing to do with it. We had no purpose to get out of bed in the morning, and that's a dangerous human condition. This was precisely why almost everybody I know got into some sort of community, included myself.
Luckily enough (I think), one of the communities I got into was “The Online Privacy”, with Techlore’s videos being those which hit me in the beginning. As you can imagine, the hook, what capture my attention, was the indignation they generated in me. Why in hell would those Social Media and Big Tech companies lie to us so blatantly, and use our own personal data and habits collected in murky and sometimes illegal ways during months, even years, for their own profit? How could they sell that information, which is private to us, to the highest bidder? How could they use our browsing habits and interactions to sell us some plastic shit we did not even really need? How could anyone accept that!
My indignation made me start getting out of those platforms, and move to more free/libres ones. But the final goal was to minimize the services I had an account in, which was not difficult because I had never been so attached to any of them, not even to social media. I still remember the joy I felt when my Xiaomi phone finally got unlocked, after having to install a proprietary software in my PC and wait 30 days just to do that (as if the phone were no mine but theirs), and could finally install Lineage OS and get rid of Google and all Xiaomi bloatware.
Of course, with the return to work I had less time to invest in keeping up to date with the online privacy community (although I did spend a lot of time at/from work to advance these privacy side projects), and have slowly learned that nothing is black or white, that there are mid tones, and extremes are probably not what we are looking for, or imagine.
Form those times, a few years ago, I still:
- Don’t have social media.
- Have as few apps in the phone as possible.
- Have as few accounts as possible.
- Don’t use google or any related service (just the bare minimum if the phone).
- Use hardened Firefox, Brave, Mullvad browser or even Tor.
- And many much other stuffs.
What I hate the most about social media
A few months ago, and as a suggestion from my partner to extend the visibility of my work in this blog (who wants to be writing for the thin air, right?), I opened an account in Mastodon, but wasn’t able to stand it, and closed it a few days latter. I found it too shallow, too time consuming for nothing, with people saying stuffs just for saying something… it was just overwhelming to me. I hated to have to somehow pretend to care about virtual relationships, just to get people following me and publicise my blog: anyway, it wasn’t, and it still isn’t, that big of a deal.
But I do, however, have some interaction with the virtual social world trough YouTube (NewPipe actually 😌), and my partner showing me some TikTok or tweet every now and then. Therefore, it is inevitable to find from time to time those videos or writings saying something like this
The first thing I will do is reflect on it, or if it seems unclear to me, I’ll bring it to my coach (if you’d like some coaching with me, let’s talk).
Taken from this publication. (let’s talk was a link, but I removed it for your safety. 😉)
Unless I misunderstood, the guy is offering a coaching session to us, but during the whole article he was referring to how he needs a coach to guide him. What the fuck? For me this is like a madman selling psychiatry classes.
You know, there is a song named “El Bobo” (The Stupid), from Guatemalan songwriter Ricardo Arjona, that starts with the following two verses:
Con la fuerza de un tren militar
Se desplaza el presente sin ley
El pasado no va a regresar
Y el azar seguirá siendo el rey
Te pondrás como yugo el reloj
Y saldrás a la calle a morir
Verás filas de idiotas sin fin
Fracasados haciéndole al coach
Socialistas con chef Michelin
Dictadores haciendo el approach
Seguirás la costumbre del tedio
Y buscarás por rutina el amor
I wrote it in Spanish because translating a song has never being a good idea. Anyway, I’ll do my best, and in English it says something like:
With the force of a military train
The lawless present moves
The past will not return
And chance will remain king
You will put on the watch as a yoke
And you will go out to the street to die
You’ll see endless lines of idiots
Unsuccessful people working as coach
Socialists with Michelin chef
Dictators doing the approach
You will follow the habit of tedium
And you will look for love by routine
Although the whole song is a master piece, and I highly recommend The Author's Sessions of it (YouTube link), even if you have to put on the subtitles, what interests me for this discussion are the bold lines. Here the author is referring to absurd and stupid things, like those who have failed in everything they have tried, and are now working as coaches, saying to others how to live their life, or what to do to be successful.
And I am not saying the author of the referred article above is anything of these things. Don’t get me wrong. I am just saying that’s the message I get when I read it.
Another example was a video from Ali Abdaal on YouTube, where he explained Why everyone should start an email newsletter (YouTube link). Basically, one of the justifications is that you create your own subscribers base, what allows you to get paid for companies to send adds inside your newsletter’s content. And then he says, “by the way, subscribe to mine”. And I am once more like… what the fuck? He’s just explained he’s selling my data and advertising me on his newsletter, how can he ask me now to subscribe?
Although the list goes on and on, I think I have made my point: How can I go to a platform looking for things (hopefully interesting ones) that people have shared to entertain myself for a few hours, and then to be treated so blatantly? For me they are saying: Come friend, I will teach you how to make money by teaching some shit to stupid people… by the way my fees are 100$ per hour.
But then, a few days ago my partner showed me a publication on LinkedIn which was basically the same, but only God knows why this time I finally realized what was going on. I got it! It’s a business!
I got it, it’s a business
I always wondered, what is wrong with these people? Why would they treat us like fools and try to sell us something every single time?
In fact, that’s their job, literally. Much of them do that for a living, and there is nothing wrong with it, absolutely nothing. I now realize it was me who was wrong.
I always got surprised with the kind of situations described during this post, just because I never expected to find someone selling me something in a place to share experiences and make friends. But these kind of platforms are far from being places to share experiences and make friends.
These platforms are profitable because of the trades taking place in them. They are the intermediaries in the process of sell and buy.
Some time ago I wrote:
For some reason we forget that the goal of an influencer’s existence is simply to sell us something. We forget that they are the new marketing billboards, the most efficient ever created.
There is no way to get out of this buy-and-sell process. Either you are selling something, that is, publishing periodically to increase you followers number and at some point start being paid commissions for their attention and purchases, or you are just giving your attention and making purchases.
And there is nothing wrong about any of the two sides (as long as we take out of the equation the abusive treatment of the personal and private data, of course).
Thanks for reading the post! Do not hesitate to write me an email, and share your point of view 😉: firstname.lastname@example.org