The Poison That Is Social Media

May 2021

I recently took the opportunity to read Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Accounts Right Now”, which, despite the unwieldy title, was a fascinating and compelling read. No, I won’t be deleting my Facebook or Twitter- not exactly anyway- but then again I use them in a professional capacity, i.e related to my books and the writing process, and the book was more geared towards people who are more personally embedded in the mire of social media. But as someone who used to have a personal Facebook account, it was nevertheless a very interesting read- and I can honestly say that if I did use Facebook or any other platforms in a personal capacity (as opposed to a platform for marketing my books) I probably would be inclined to take his advice. In fact, even though I use Facebook (and other social media platforms) non-personally, there was plenty of good advice about usage and awareness which was of benefit to me.

It did make me think about the various negative emotions that came with having a personal account- seeing everyone apparently having better luck and a better time, or others arguing furiously with one another… the vile shouting matches about politics and religion… although my own reasons for deleting it (and not bothering to create personal profiles anywhere else) were simply that my “friends” shrank by over two-thirds in the space of several years, and frankly there were so few people left who cared whether I was on Facebook or not, that it just wasn’t worth carrying on. In a “personal” capacity I had very little to say about anything anyway. I mean, if you’re careful not to post anything too personal or revealing, you avoid politics, religion and anything else even slightly controversial (because of the inevitable storm of abuse that it creates)… then there isn’t really much left to post. It made sense to just have a Facebook profile for managing my fan page and posting random nonsense or stuff about my books.

Anyway, it was a good read and definitely an eye-opener. The book’s on Amazon (obviously!) for those who are interested.

On a related subject- I much prefer the discussions I have with people (whether they’re fans or interviewers or other authors or anyone else) via email. It’s a “purer” format- you can have a coherent discussion with people on a one to one basis, and unlike WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger etc. you’re not necessarily being spied on and monitored the whole time (unless you use Gmail of course, but that’s another story).

Who knows, by 2022 I may have regressed all the way back to postal correspondence…