Cover image for Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now / Jaron Lanier.
Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now / Jaron Lanier.
Title Variants:
10 arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2018.

Physical Description:
x, 146 pages ; 22 cm
Introduction, with cats -- You are losing your free will -- Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times -- Social media is making you into an asshole -- Social media is undermining truth -- Social media is making what you say meaningless -- Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy -- Social media is making you unhappy -- Social media doesn't want you to have economic dignity -- Social media is making politics impossible -- Social media hates your soul -- Conclusion: Cats have nine lives.
Lanier offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave the dangers of online platforms behind. He has seen their tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people. And he asks: How could the benefits of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom? -- adapted from jacket.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
302.231 LAN Book Adult General Collection

On Order



A timely call-to-arms from a Silicon Valley pioneer.

You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we're better off without them. In Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now , Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms.

Lanier's reasons for freeing ourselves from social media's poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more "connected" than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads. How can we remain autonomous in a world where we are under continual surveillance and are constantly being prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history that have no way of making money other than being paid to manipulate our behavior? How could the benefits of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom? Lanier remains a tech optimist, so while demonstrating the evil that rules social media business models today, he also envisions a humanistic setting for social networking that can direct us toward a richer andfuller way of living and connecting with our world.

Author Notes

Jaron Lanier is a scientist, musician, and writer best known for his work in virtual reality and his advocacy of humanism and sustainable economics in a digital context. His 1980s start-up VPL Research created the first commercial VR products and introduced avatars, multi-person virtual world experiences, and prototypes of major VR applications such as surgical simulation. His books Who Owns the Future? and You Are Not a Gadget were international bestsellers, and Dawn of the New Everything was named a 2017 best book of the year by The Wall Street Journal , The Economist , and Vox .

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Virtual reality pioneer Lanier (Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality) tediously reiterates well-known pitfalls of social media, arguing that the major platforms are manipulating users' thoughts, goading their inner trolls, tearing society apart, and just generally making everyone unhappy. Lanier, a Silicon Valley insider, spells out his arguments against social media in 10 breezy chapters with titles like "You Are Losing Your Free Will" and "Social Media Is Making Politics Impossible." His underlying argument takes aim at the business models behind popular platforms like Facebook and Google that enable third-party actors such as advertisers-to pay to modify users' behavior using personalized, continuously adjusted stimuli. Unfortunately, his short treatise is overridden with shallow political commentary (as when he refers to Trump as a victim of Twitter) and scant analysis of critical issues (he's quick to dismiss the role of social media in the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Arab Spring uprisings). Baseless generalizations and vague platitudes undermine the author's case, which is particularly unfortunate given his experience and expertise in the world he skewers. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

MY SELF-JUSTIFICATIONS were feeble. They could be described as hypocritical even. I had written a book denouncing Facebook, yet maintained an account on Mark Zuckerberg's manipulation machine. Despite my comprehensive awareness of the perils, I would occasionally indulge in the voyeurism of the News Feed, succumb to zombie scrolling and would take the hit of dopamine that Sean Parker, Facebook's founding president, has admitted is baked into the product. In internal monologues, I explained my behavior as a professional necessity. How could I describe the perniciousness of the platform if I never used it? Critics of the big technology companies have refrained from hectoring users to quit social media. It's far more comfortable to slam a corporate leviathan than it is to shame your aunt or high school pals - or, for that matter, to jettison your own long list of "friends." As our informational ecosystem has been rubbished, we have placed very little onus on the more than two billion users of Facebook and Twitter. So I'm grateful to Jaron Lanier for redistributing blame on the lumpen-user, for pressing the public to flee social media. He writes, "If you're not part of the solution, there will be no solution." Over the past year, a backlash against the big tech companies has arrived suddenly and unexpectedly. But Lanier has been there for a long time. During the 1980s, he helped invent virtual reality. Because of his immersion in technology and his integrity as a thinker, he saw the perils of corporate concentration in technology before most; he knew that the data amassed by these companies could be used to exploit the psychic weaknesses of users. In the early years of this decade, he published two excellent books - "You Are Not a Gadget" and "Who Owns the Future?" - that were strident, lucid and personable. Books about technology often quickly come to feel like a flip-phone, antiquated and destined for the intellectual junk drawer. But Lanier's books have aged marvelously. His latest manifesto, "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now," is, alas, less polished. It makes important arguments, but Lanier has pressed many of them several times before. While Lanier has shown a capacity for wit, this book is hokey. He's enthralled by his coinage of the acronym "BUMMER," which stands for "Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made Into an Empire for Rent." Instead of slamming Facebook and Google by name, he endlessly refers to them as "BUMMER" companies. There's a laziness to his polemic: a lack of examples, arguments that unfold much too quickly to gather their full powers of persuasion, writing that chokes on excessive metaphor. Over the course of three pages, he uses lead paint, climate change and crude oil to describe the workings of the BUMMER machine. Many of his criticisms of social media will feel familiar to distant observers of American politics. Twitter and Facebook have made us cruder, less empathetic, more tribal. Only at the very end does Lanier venture into new territory. His argument, however, is a profound one. He worries that our reliance on big tech companies is ruining our capacity for spirituality, by turning us into robotic extensions of their machines. The companies, he argues, have no appreciation for the "mystical spark inside you." They don't understand the magic of human consciousness and, therefore, will recklessly destroy it. Whatever the flaws of this short manifesto, Lanier shows the tactical value of appealing to the conscience of the individual. In the face of his earnest argument, I felt a piercing shame about my own presence on Facebook. I heeded his plea and deleted my account. ? Twitter and Facebook have made us cruder, less empathetic, more tribal. FRANKLIN FOER is a national correspondent at The Atlantic and the author of "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech."

Table of Contents

Introduction, with catsp. 1
Argument 1 You Are Losing Your Free Will
Welcome to the cage that goes everywhere with youp. 5
The mad scientist turns out to care about the dog in the cagep. 8
Carrot and shtickp. 10
The allure of mysteryp. 12
Heaven and hell are made of other peoplep. 16
Bit as baitp. 19
Addiction, meet network effectp. 21
Addiction and free will are oppositesp. 23
Argument 2 Quitting Social Media Is The Most Finely Targeted Way To Resist The Insanity Of Our Times
The Bummer machinep. 25
The parts that make up the Bummer machinep. 29
The problem is limited, so we can contain itp. 37
Argument 3 Social Media Is Making You Into An Asshole
Sooty snowp. 39
Meeting my inner trollp. 41
The mysterious nature of asshole amplification technologyp. 44
The most masterful master switchp. 49
Go to where you are kindestp. 51
Argument 4 Social Media Is Undermining Truth
Everybody knowsp. 53
When people are fake, everything becomes fakep. 55
Bummer killsp. 59
Argument 5 Social Media Is Making What You Say Meaningless
Meaning ajarp. 65
Pod peoplep. 69
Argument 6 Social Media Is Destroying Your Capacity For Empathy
Digitally imposed social numbnessp. 76
The lost theory in your brainp. 79
Argument 7 Social Media Is Making You Unhappy
Why do so many famous tweets end with the word "sad"?p. 81
The wrong end of the Bummerp. 85
High castlep. 90
Argument 8 Social Media Doesn't Want You To Have Economic Dignity
Double Bummerp. 93
Baby Bummerp. 94
Conflicted Bummerp. 97
Bummer blindersp. 98
Better than Bummerp. 99
The corp perspectivep. 103
The user perspectivep. 104
Argument 9 Social Media Is Making Politics Impossible
Arc burnp. 107
Arab Springp. 110
Gamergatep. 113
LGBTQp. 114
Neither left nor right, but downp. 115
Black Lives Matterp. 117
If only this game were already overp. 123
Argument 10 Social Media Hates Your Soul
I met a metaphysical metaphorp. 125
The first four principles of Bummer spiritualityp. 126
Bummer faithp. 132
Bummer heavenp. 134
Existence without Bummerp. 136
Bummer anti-magicp. 137
Conclusion: Cats Have Nine Lives
Thank-yousp. 145
About the Authorp. 147