The pioneer of augmented reality is asking you to abandon social networks

Jaron LanierJaron Lanier says:
stop using social media now!

When one of the most respected voices in the spheres of Virtual Reality speaks, we must pay attention, especially when it issues a warning related to our growing addiction and dependence on digital technology.

Jaron Lanier, one of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley, has put his finger on the wound and recommends people leave social networks if they appreciate their mental health a little. If a man that was behind the creation of the internet protocol says so, it's better to listen up. Discover the reasons why Jaron Lanier has become one of the main critics of digital technology.

Jaron Lanier is considered the father of Virtual Reality. Lanier's talent is not limited to computer science since he also develops as a talented composer of classical and electronic music, passions that he combines with his taste for writing and philosophy. His sharp eyes that cross everything he sees as a laser and his smart criticisms that seems to electrify his dreadlocks, generates controversy but also interesting reflections.

Lanier's criticisms of digital technology have been captured in books like "You are not a gadget" and his most recent work "Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now". If there is a qualified voice to talk about technological excesses, it's him since he knows and has worked in the algorithms that are developed today.

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The danger of algorithms

According to Lanier, algorithms created by giants like Google or Facebook represent a real danger that would lead us to lose control of our own brain.

According to Lanier algorithms are approaching a definitive design that allows them to manipulate the human brain under a model in which user behavior becomes the product. For the computer scientist, the big corporations are behind this, because they have found new ways in digital technology of conditioning user´s decisions to make them respond according to their economic interests.

For Lanier, the Internet still has a chance to be saved, but in order to do that we must abandon social networks (discover how Facebook controls you through dopamine) and detract from those who control the data clouds.

The algorithms are constantly tested and modified by a kind of cybernetic machinery that brings together data monopolies. They are trying to draw the attention of users to make them act more profitably.

"The algorithm is trying to capture the perfect parameters for manipulating a brain, while the brain, in order to seek out a deeper meaning, is changing in response to the algorithm's experiments ... Because the stimuli from the algorithm do not mean anything, because they genuinely are random, the brain is not responding to anything real, but to fiction. That process - of becoming hooked on an elusive mirage - is the addiction."  Jaron Lanier.

Algorithms exploit emotions to achieve their goal. The platforms that support social networks are in charge of offering the necessary tools to allow the expansion of negative sensations such as indignation, narcissism, outrage, resentment or anger because according to Lanier, the minds behind the algorithms have found that negative emotions are easier to activate, have more impact and remain more time online. Actually, Lanier asks himself why some of the most popular tweets end with the word "sad".

That could explain why terrorist and racist movements are so successful in social networks and why people suffer depression when trying to live through a digital filter that offers a distorted and confusing reality that represses physical interaction and limits the imagination. Lanier wonders how empathy and respect could flourish in an environment like the one offered by social networks?

10 reasons to leave social networks according to Jaron Lanier

In his latest book, Jaron Lanier details ten reasons that, according to his perspective, justify giving up social networks if you want to protect your mental health. The ten arguments listed by Lanier also serve as a title to each of the chapters in his book. Lanier's criticism of social networks is condensed in the following sentences:

1. You are losing your free will.

2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.

3. Social media is making you into an asshole.

4. Social media is undermining the truth.

5. Social media is making what you say meaningless.

6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.

7. Social media is making you unhappy.

8. Social media does not want you to have economic dignity.

9. Social media is making politics impossible.

10. The social media hates your soul.

All these arguments shot straight to social networks and are based on Lanier's idea that they are "the cage that goes everywhere with you". A clear allusion to the way in which they have captured us.

Lanier also speaks harshly about the addiction caused by social media and how addiction and free will are opposites. For him, social media is based on a very simple but important fact "when people are fake, everything becomes fake".

What do you think? Do you agree with Lanier's position or do you think social media is a necessary evil?

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