Is social media about to destroy Civilisation?
25th of June 2018
I had definitely heard of Jaron Lanier, and I knew he was an Interesting Person (turns out he more or less invented Virtual Reality and was part of the team which scaled the early Internet. Heavy stuff). From occasional glimpses on YouTube I'd had him pegged as something like the comic book guy character from the Simpsons (or perhaps as a brainy Ignatius J Reilly – I mean this nicely, of course). Clearly very clever, faintly rambling, right-on, with a TED talk (or two) under his belt.
When I saw a reference to his new book, Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, I downloaded it with interest. The reference was in a book about productivity (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport) so I was expecting his ten arguments to be related to the (very real) fact that constant checking of social media trashes your attention span and ruins your ability to read whole paragraphs – as a grumpy forty-year-old this stuff is now very much my turf.