The Case of the ‘Bummer’:
A Review of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
By Treshawn Chamberlain
We all have that one friend that enjoys the outdoors more than using technology, or that one friend that continues to showcase discomfort when it comes down to social media. No? If you can’t possibly think of anybody in your life with those characteristics, then let me introduce you to Jaron Lanier. In this book he expresses the need for everybody to get away from the poisonous grip that social media holds on people. Lanier argues that this is important to help create a future that’s full and rich in life.
Lanier is a computer scientist that is also known as the ‘father of virtual reality’ and he also works at Microsoft. He deserves credibility due to the fact that he works at Microsoft so he has a clear idea about how big tech companies manipulate us as customers. At the beginning of the book, he starts off by explaining that he’s the same as us because at one point he used social media to express himself more than he’d ever think of doing in person, but unlike us, he found a breakthrough and decided to express it during this book. I know you haven’t experienced the same as him so you may never go through the stages of getting rid of social media but, just try this short 100 page book out. before you judge his actions on why he thinks social media apps should be deleted from your phone.
This book provided countless reasons to delete your social media accounts, and he uses parts of his life to convey his reasons. The best way he expressed his reasons was by using the acronym “BUMMER”, which basically is used to express all the symptoms that the inanimate object known as “apps” have on people every day, but out of all 6 symptoms only one stuck out to me and that was how apps are fake. Lanier quotes in argument four “you looked at a video or read a story because so many other people had, but most of them were fake. You became aware of tweets because they were retweeted first by armies of bots” this quote relates to how most things we see on our timelines are usually fake because they were shared by fake bots to allow it to pop up on our screens. Another example he found in chapter 4 was “Twitter in early 2018 was 225$ for the first 25,000 fake followers”. He provided these examples and facts about how Twitter had a problem with fake bots that escalated to the point where they started deleting all fake followers and it broke out over media, and caused an uproar of anger for people who lost half of their followers. This isn’t the only site that showed love to the fake robots in this world, Lanier has plenty of examples for that topic which includes dating sites, and product reviews.
His book provides excellent reasons why you should delete social media that causes you to be suspicious of his sanity. It all relates to what he describes as “Bummer”. He argues that Bummer touches mainly on the subject that apps are fake and how the creators take advantage of the opportunity to turn civilians into “assholes”, basically by causing people to post what might gain more followers, or more attention. In chapter three he starts it off by saying “ I’ve seen myself turning into an asshole online, and it was scary and depressing”. Later on in the chapter he said “I wrote stuff that I knew people wanted to hear, or the opposite, because I knew it would be inflammatory”. This chapter was about how he turned into an asshole when using social media because he would release anger on random people to make him feel good or Lanier would post a mean joke on somebody to gain followers and likes. Lanier argues that everybody has done this or at least thought of doing it, and you can choose to disagree with his thoughts but, in chapter six he says “you can’t understand people without knowing a little of what they’ve gone through”. This saying is well known, and represents that everybody has a different story, so you shouldn’t judge them without knowing some of it. He also goes along with it by preaching that “people are different and nobody sees or feels the same as him”. It goes both ways as well, as he doesn’t know the habits of others but in reality he is only trying to help prevent assholes from increasing across the world.
In every good book I have read, there are parts that are left out. Lanier notices that social can lead you to a life of fake-nice because you become assholes by posting statuses that catches the attention of others, and that is usually accomplished by acts of mean jokes or insults through social media, but he failed to show the upsides of having these apps, because the app could be the only way you could keep in touch with relatives or maybe the best way for you to find love because some relationships start through a simple text. Lanier also fails to show that not everybody is fake or assholes because of social media, because some people just sit back and enjoy the content or use the apps to compliment and enjoy the places people see or travel to. Although, he does give off great thoughts with facts about how companies use fake followers or reviews to gain more attention. He also adds great examples of the habits that occur throughout social media with this quote in chapter one, “So-called advertisers can seize the moment when you are perfectly primed and then influence you with messages that have worked on other people who share traits with you”. This involves your free will, which in a short summary means that apps choose what ads you see because you might drive the same car or have similar favorite foods as somebody who usually purchased an item advertised by bright colors on the ad.
With all this being said the book shows similarities to a past one of his writings, “Who owns the future” which is based on machine use compared to human lifestyles in the workforce. His objections are clear, and he doesn’t hold back his feelings on any of the subjects he discussed. Even if he’s a kind hearted serpent made to persuade you into his own thinking, he gives his all in every book. In his past book Lanier insists that we oppose machines due to the fact that their causing our jobs to be taken away. Lanier goes into a deeper depth about the topic and decides that the payments with workers are going unnoticed which relates to this book. Mainly because he believes that the payouts are going to the wrong people in each situation. Instead of apps using us as customers he switches it by calling the advertisers the real customers in this book in chapter 5, “the advertisers are the true customers, so they have a voice”, because they purchase ads and buy our attention from apps, He gives off great explanations by proving that the ads are basically buying our attention from social media. Which in result makes us products in a way that without us neither social media or the companies that purchase the ads would thrive as much as they do now.
Another reason he provides is that we are all being controlled by social media apps, and with every swipe our free will is lost. In his perspective, the way we respond to certain situations on social media aren’t our true selves choosing them. You should hear him out about this situation because it’s really clever when you think about it. He argues that we have no control over our actions because BUMMER only shows us one side of many problems. One main example he gives is why the feelings people have for the president are different and that’s shown in chapter six, “ Pro-Trump visitors would see an article completely different from the one shown to anti-Trump people”. Each situation tends to show one side to only give the user one thought about the subject, which could be bad or good, and it all depends on who you follow on the apps, because social media is only used as a resource for the information that’s shared through all trump haters timelines and vice versa. This is all a mind game to Lanier who apparently became the master of the problem from the way he describes them. In all honesty it made me rethink all the things that I hated which could be musicians, athletes, and even strangers by the views I received from apps. It all comes down to you finding out both sides of one story, instead of relying on an app to provide you with the information. Now if this caused you to rethink the way that your life is controlled, then you gotta check this book out.
In reality, Lanier honestly wants you to look outside the box. The book wasn’t made to force you to delete all social media, but it was more of a way to keep you thinking of what you really are. Lanier only gave off 10 reasons but this situation is big enough to cause more than that! The main plot he gave off were the fact that nobody is themselves thanks to BUMMER. While he shows biased behavior, he also provides great explanations about how serious he wants you to think about this subject. He might have unorthodox reasoning, but that’s only because you haven’t gained your free will yet. So will I ever quit social media you might ask? Heck no, because I can’t live without social media in this world that we are in today. I need to know what’s going on and it’sthe best way to gain information, but it was an eye opener indeed, and hopefully I can get my free will in a different way.