This book starts with a statement about cats – and about how cats rule the internet – they make the memiest memes and cutest videos. However it also makes another point about cats and the internet – the author states that cats have done the impossible – they have integrated themselves into the modern high-tech world without giving themselves up. This book is about how to be a cat – remain autonomous in a world where you are under constant surveillance, and constantly prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history, which are being paid to manipulate your behaviour.
Argument One – You are loosing your free will.
Everyone who is on social media is getting individualised, continuously adjusted stimuli, without a break, so long as they use their smartphones. What might once have been called advertising must now be understood as continuous behaviour modification on a titanic scale.
Behaviour modification entails methodical techniques that change behavioural patterns in animals and people. It can be used to treat addictions, but it can also be used to create them. Using symbols instead of real rewards has become an essential trick in the behavioural modification toolbox.
One of the main reasons to delete your social media account is that there isn’t a real choice to move to different social media accounts. To free yourself, to be more authentic, to be less addicted, to be less manipulated, to be less paranoid…for all these reasons, delete your accounts.
Argument Two – Quitting Social Media is the Most Finely Targeted Way to Resist the Insanity of Our Times
The author creates six components of social media, or what he calls the Bummer machine. Attention Acquisition leading to Asshole supremacy, Butting into everyones lives, cramming content down people’s throats, directing people’s behaviours in the sneakiest way possible, earning money from letting people secretly screw with everyone else, and fake mobs and faker society.
Argument Three – Social Media is Making you an Asshole
Through social media your identity becomes packified. You become less of an individual and more involved in groupthink.
The author concludes this chapter by saying ‘Your character is the most precious ting about you. Don’t let it degrade’.
Argument Four – Social Media is Undermining Truth
There have always been weird waves of untruth in society, but in order to progress into our comfortable modernity, we gradually found a way to truth, together. What is different in recent years is many of us no longer directly interrogate facts.
Argument Five – Social Media is Making What You Say Meaningless
Online, we have little or no ability to know or influence the context into which our expression will be understood. What you say is not meaningful without context. Speaking through social media is not really speaking at all. Context is applied to what you say after you say it, for someone else’e purposes and profit.
Argument Six – Social Media is Detroying You Capacity for Empathy
This argument is the flip side of the argument about how social media makes you meaningless. Other people are also becoming meaningless; you understand less about what is going on with them. When through social media we are all seeing different private worlds, our cues to one another become meaningless, and our perception of reality beyond social media becomes meaningless.
Argument Seven – Social Media Is Making You Unhappy
Argument Eight – Social Media Doesn’t Want You to Have Economic Dignity
The social media business model is based on the assertion that there is only one possible way for digital services to work, which is that you, the individual user, must be made subservient. One way to reverse this would be to directly monetise services such as search and social media. You’d pay a low monthly fee to use them, but if you contributed a lot – if your posts, videos, or whatever are popular – you could also earn some money. The author states he won’t have an account on social media until he can both pay for it and also be paid for using his data.
Argument Nine – Social Media is Making Politics Impossible
Social Media undermines the political process and hurts millions of people, but as so many of these people are addicted to social media all they can do is complain about the catastrophe it has brought about. Facebook and other social media platforms are becoming the ransomware of human attention. They have such a hold on so much of so many people’s attention that they are gatekeepers to brains.
Facebook has published research about increasing voter turnout. In the published research, facebook used the cheerful example of boosting voter turnout, however as facebook is all about targeting it can use that ability to target the work to increase voter turnout on certain demographics – it is not a politically neutral exercise.
Argument Ten – Social Media Hates Your Soul
When we talk about politics, culture, art, or law, it’s possible that quantity can’t replace quality, even though we can’t say what quality is.