Don't delete your social media. Just change these three settings.

August 27, 2018 | Jameson Zimmer

I just finished reading Lanier’s “10 reasons to delete your social media accounts right now.” (It inspired my own cheeky clickbait title for this article.) Anyway, he’s right — social media is awful, and we should all log off. 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and this sort of “cold turkey” advice tends to come from wealthy, well-positioned older people who can afford to forego the clear social advantages of networking on social media platforms. 

Speaking personally, I’ve used Facebook to find multiple apartments that were cheaper and better suited to me than I could have found on craigslist or through paper ads. Looking at creative fields, it’s hard for an artist to skip out on Instagram and all the potential fans. 

The problem, of course, comes when the tool stops being used for practical gain and starts being used as a time waster.  To respond, I wanted to share a lighter, more realistic alternative. Take action on these three simple changes to your accounts, and you can have 80% of the mental benefits with 20% of the practical sacrifice. 

  1. Set all feeds to chronological order. If the platform you’re using doesn’t offer chronological order, consider deleting it. 
  2. Block feeds, unless reading and reacting to every post by your social group is essential to your finances or wellbeing. 
  3. If you’re using a social platform for personal gain, be strategic about it. For example, I mainly keep Facebook because I occasionally find it useful to ask my social group for leads on practical matters. (Finding apartment, who can sell me a used bike, etc.) To make sure my posts get maximum exposure, I post something I know will get comments every few months so that the Facebook algorithm will see all the engagements on my sporadic posts, and assign my less interesting “who can loan me x” posts more value and exposure. 

One more interesting point from the book worth remembering: 

Lanier claims that AI is being oversold, describing the hype as “AI storytelling.” I can’t speak to the truth of this from experience, but I can point out that even Google’s notoriously secretive and advanced search algorithm relies on armies of (presumably low-paid) search evaluators to make more nuanced decisions about who deserves the coveted top ten spots, following a decidedly analog bible of guidelines that seems built to print out and plunk on a cubicle desk.