Social media is literally a modern marvel that has engulfed in its clutches, billions of people around the world. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remain the top three platforms for those wishing to step inside the world of “social networking”. Additionally, other platforms such as LinkedIn cater to specific audiences who do not belong to the mainstream sites. Even this blog is considered a form of social media. Regardless of what we use, social media has changed the way the world works and that trend will only continue. But what if we all decided to delete our accounts? What would happen and how would our lives change? Jaron Lanier is a silicon valley insider who once helped engineer the very social media platforms billions of people use daily. In this direct to the point book, he makes it clear that he believes we should all delete our social media accounts right now.
At first glance, it will seem to many that the author has clearly lost his mind and there is no way they would give up any of their social media accounts. But Lanier is no fool and has come prepared to do psychological battle. And has he moves through his argument, based on what he calls the Behavior of Users Modified and Made into and Empire, known simply as the BUMMER model. The acronym is undoubtedly unique to the subject at hand but as Lanier takes us through each part of the model, we are able to see how it relates to our use of social media and the players that control the platforms that we cannot stop using.
The Bummer model is the core of his argument but what is paramount is how social media is changing us and why we are not changing social media. I firmly believe that all of us are either guilty of or know someone who displays the very things Lanier points out in the book. For many of us it is hard to imagine life without social media and today’s generation of young adults have grown up with it since birth. For many of them, it will be an unfathomable thought to have no social media existence at all. But if Lanier is correct and I think there is much truth to his words, social media will continue to change us unless we take the power back from the social media companies and place it our hands. Only then, as Lanier says, will companies be forced to become competitive and offer diversity in platforms that accommodates what the users want and not what tech giants want. But the first step is to delete our accounts.
Some of us have no social media and see no reason to start now. And while it is part of the world we live in, there is no requirement that anyone has to use it. It is truly up to our discretion. But with anything else that develops habit and sometimes addiction, we must ask ourselves what value does it truly bring to our lives and is it necessary to begin with? Once we answer these questions, we can then control the influence social media has on us and where we would like to see it go in the future. Until then, the BUMMER model continues to thrive, claiming new loyal subscribers everyday. Lanier may seem like a lone wolf but he’s a wolf that fears nothing and wants you to have the same fearlessness and rethink your usage of social media platforms.