back to article Here's why online social networks are bad for humanity, the nerds who helped build them tut-tut

A group of ex-Facebook and Google workers, along with venture capital execs, are campaigning to stop their former employers from further screwing up humanity. The Center for Humane Technology says its mission will be to "create a cultural awakening" of the dangers of social networking, media, and search platforms many of its …

  1. ratfox Silver badge
    Devil

    Nice

    They get to have a good conscience — and keep the money!

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Nice

      Robber barons of the 21st century. Anyone of them called Morgan or Drake?

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Holmes

    "Their business models..encourage them to do whatever they can to grab..data"

    Who knew?

    And you just worked this out after you cashed out?

    Seriously?

    I smell a "solution" about to be offered.....

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Stuart Halliday

    The Society companies have simply exposed cultural flaws present in our various countries.

    So concentrate on fixing those flaws?

    No, we'll do what we've done for hundreds of years and exploit another cultural failure - do the easy option and ignore the actual issue.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: ignore the actual issue

      Which is?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ignore the actual issue

        @sabroni

        Ignorance through lack of education in the philosophical arts. Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others, that would then make the act of polishing the ego with social media not be the default thought of young people who then grow into narcissistic adults.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others"

          Easy to say, very hard to to do, and even harder to obtain results - especially since usually most "successful" people around are exactly narcissistic jerks - in any field, including philosophical arts.

          Some religions often attempt that as well, but as soon as they understand they get a lot of power over people - not very different than social media, after all - they become lead and run by narcissistic jerks as well.

          Human nature has instincts that requires a lot of self-control and force to counteract - and if you know how to manipulate those instincts, you can get rich and successful, satisfying your instinct as well...

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: "Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others"

            Perhaps society as a whole needs to stop elevating morally bankrupt morons to the highest pinnacles of adoration and start promoting role-models who exemplify the kind of attributes that we wish our children to exhibit.

            Chances of success: High (over time)

            Chances of it happening: Not in my lifetime.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others"

              Too true. Once upon a time, the word 'celebrity' referred to someone who had done something to celebrate.

              Nowadays it refers to anyone who's on TV.

              1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: "Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others"

                Nowadays it refers to anyone who's on TV.

                Or who has more than three subscribers on YouTube.

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: "Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others"

            Easy to say, very hard to to do, and even harder to obtain results - especially since usually most "successful" people around are exactly narcissistic jerks - in any field, including philosophical arts.

            And perhaps that's why they exist. If we eradicated that particular personality 'feature' from our species maybe on average people would be less successful.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: ignore the actual issue

          Are you sure? We have a government educated in the philosophical arts (the P in PPE) and they're currently running the UK into the ground.

          1. nijam

            Re: ignore the actual issue

            > PPE

            Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.

            Or, as the rest of us call it, opinions.

  5. TheSkunkyMonk

    provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

    Resources? surely most can afford a book or two or even the great outdoors?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

      My wife overheard a mother speaking to her young daughter the other day. The child was expressing a wish to purchase a book, to which the mother responded..

      'Another one? you've got books at home already.'

      Perhaps the mother is unaware that books often contain words that are arranged in a different order so as to convey different meanings and information?

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

        Weird. I heard that conversation and was so intrigued i followed them into the next shop.

        Kid : "More shoes Mummy, but you've already got 71 pairs at home"

        Mummy : completely triggered "Shut yer face you little urchin or you'll get no f***ing tea tonight".

        In my experience, mainly through the school PTA and hundreds of parents, there are a great number of parents of a generation that are so selfish, think only of themselves and the kids get the leftovers.

        Often those kids have been dumped in front of electronic media since birth, certainly as a toddler, simply to get them out of the way. Any surprises they turn out so immersed in such as Facebook etc. Not all obviously but many.

        And the huge number of poor bairns being pushed along in a pram with only the back of a phone to focus on. Sad.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

          And the huge number of poor bairns being pushed along in a pram with only the back of a phone to focus on. Sad.

          Yeah. I don't have kids and have never wanted them. The best thing I can say about kids is that they eventually become taxpayers and some will even pay enough tax to help fund my retirement. But I find the sight of someone pushing a pram with one hand while the other holds their phone to the head disturbing. I feel sorry for the poor kid and wonder a)do they feel neglected? b)if so what impact is that going to have on their personality?

          What is the kid learning from a parent that would rather talk to someone over a telephone than the child alongside them?

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

            What is the kid learning from a parent that would rather talk to someone over a telephone than the child alongside them?

            I think we already know the answer to that question. Look around.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

          And the huge number of poor bairns being pushed along in a pram with only the back of a phone to focus on.

          Are prams still popular in the UK? I don't recall seeing many there, but my trips are nearly always to the same part of the same city, so hardly representative.

          In the US, pretty much all parents use "strollers", which have the child facing front. They can't see the phone mummy or daddy is holding, just the tree they're about to be pushed into.

          Of course hipster parents use one of the many varieties of slings and other on-body carriers instead. And I simply carry my grandkids around, because doing it the hard way builds character. (I could make them walk, but then they'd get all the character.)

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

        'Another one? you've got books at home already.'

        More books? That's like asking for another violin.

        Of course, when I were a lad, no one could afford books. You wanted a novel, you had to write it yourself. With charcoal, on the backs of thousands of shovels. And good luck getting it published! But we were happy.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People are easily entertained narcissists who like buying stuff

    They are easy to exploit to get them to share their content for free, look at the pictures and buy from the shiny adverts.

    This is why Facebook and Google and YouTube succeed in making billions.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Solarflare

    said Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist, and cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology

    What on Earth is a 'design ethicist'??

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Perhaps it's someone who is employed to ensure that all design concepts put forward for action are ethically moribund?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Deputy chief w*nker.

      The chief w*nker is usually the "chief futurist".

  9. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Pint

    Interesting that this coincides with Google relaunching Google+...I'm sure that's just a coincidence...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Again? How many times is that now?

      There comes a time when you've got to put away the defibrillators.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Center for Humane Technology

    you must admire the speed with which these types sense the direction the wind is blowing (or is it that they've fired up the turbine themselves?) - first got the human race hooked on their shit, now they're selling an antidote. Always at the fore. Can't wait for deep-space travel...

    1. Lotaresco

      Re: The Center for Humane Technology

      "Can't wait for deep-space travel..."

      Why should our failure be exported to other planets?

      Warm up the B Ark!

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: The Center for Humane Technology

        I always favoured the B-Ark being programmed in the same way as 'Hotblack Desiato’s' spaceship'. The inhabitants would lurve the all black controls.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: The Center for Humane Technology

          Again? It seems the attention span of humanity has not evolved since the B Ark crash landed. The whole point of that story is that we ARE the descendants of the B Ark.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: The Center for Humane Technology

      Sharks. Blood. Water. Nuff said.

  11. Lotaresco
    Trollface

    I'm not hooked

    I can give up social media at any time. I'm not some weak-willed teenager with over-developed thumbs.

    #ohmigod #whyme #deathofusenet

  12. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Smoking

    I regard social media as smoking up until the 1960s.

    It made you cool. It was fun and affordable. And I've been on social media now for years and nothing's happened to me. So it's just those health nuts and spoilsports just trying to spoil it all.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Smoking

      It made you cool.

      Eh!!?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smoking

        Smoking was cool. Imagine James Dean and the Marlboro Man. The people most likely to call cigarettes "cancer sticks" are the smokers. Their philosophy is, "Who wants to live forever? As long as I'm doing what I live, I'm ready to die tomorrow."

        Social Media is cool. Imagine YouTube celebrities. Who cares about tomorrow? The average attention span is too short to think of anything else.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Smoking

          Smoking was cool. Imagine James Dean and the Marlboro Man.

          Partly because smoking enables a number of behaviors that support being perceived as "cool" - i.e. as unflappable, reserved, competent, etc.

          Nicotine has a calming effect. The act of smoking provides a number of excuses to pause conversation: taking a puff and exhaling, taking out a cigarette and lighting it,[1] stubbing one out. That gives the smoker time to think of a particularly witty comment or retort, so smoking is a way to cover up momentary confusion or upset. Cigarettes in particular provide fodder for introductions and starting conversations, such as offering or asking for a cigarette or a light. They're an excuse to join a group or leave one ("I'm just stepping out for a smoke").

          It's a pity smoking is so toxic and otherwise undesirable (stains, odor, etc), because it's tremendously useful, socially. Unlike "social" media, which has profoundly antisocial effects.

          [1] And even more so for cigars and pipes, with their even more elaborate preparation rituals.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smoking

      I regard social media as smoking up until the 1960s

      More like 80es outside USA and UK, but I see you point.

      The issue is, we have not accumulated the same amount of evidence AGAINST Social Media. Yet. It will also take much longer to accumulate it as it is media. It does not need to go and bribe someone else the way the Tobacco companies had to do. It controls the public opinion directly.

      I would not be surprised if the final effects are not that different. Our neurochemical balance did not evolve for the amount of (mostly negative) stimuli you get from heavy social network usage. This has to be messing up with LOTS of things, it is only a matter of time for the scientific results to start showing it up.

  13. Ralph the Wonder Llama

    "Google design ethicist"

    Erm, lol?

  14. Merrill

    Put them on the flat screen and they are just wallpaper

    When my grandson watches youtube on a tablet or smartphone, he attends to it constantly.

    When youtube is on the flatscreen, he plays with his toys, colors, talks, runs around like a madman, and generally behaves like a kid. He occasionally looks at the flatscreen.

  15. a__d

    We can stop the exposure of too much social networking to kids by investing against the internet being a prerequisite of modern life, allowing people to "cut the cord" on Internet the same way they have done with TV. Whilst Internet is necessary to consume many services, such as banking (as there are no local branches), making doctors appointments and getting prescriptions, etc, we are forced to let this daemon (or demon, rem meet them?) into our homes.

  16. werdsmith Silver badge

    In November, Facebook billionaire cofounder Sean Parker took sides against the social networking giant when he admitted he and Zuck had made their billions by "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."

    That's the one. Go after the saddos. Easy targets.

    "But it's a great way to stay in touch with my friends and family, some of whom live in other countries"

    "But it's a lazy way of ha;f-arsed pretending to be interested in my friends and family"

    FTFY.

    Don't try that pathetic lame excuse, there are any number of better ways of properly being touch with people you care about. Not one facebook function could do this better than other ways.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Don't try that pathetic lame excuse, there are any number of better ways of properly being touch with people you care about. Not one facebook function could do this better than other ways."

      It's not an excuse for many. For some, any other form of communication can be expensive and/or unreliable, but Facebook is dirt cheat for them (even cheaper than the cell phones rates they ride on).

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        "It's not an excuse for many."

        Bollocks.

        Suggesting Facebook is as good way to stay in touch with people instead of doing properly is like saying The Sun newspaper is a great way to stay in touch with current affairs.

  17. Stevey
    Holmes

    It was ever thus

    2010s - kids today, their lives are ruined by facebook and mobile phones.. not like it was in my day

    1990s - kids today, their lives are ruined by video games.. not like it was in my day

    1980s - kids today, their lives are ruined by video nasties.. not like it was in my day

    1960s - kids today, their lives are ruined by TV.. not like it was in my day

    1930s - kids today, their lives are ruined by radio.. not like it was in my day

    1850s - kids today, their lives are ruined by penny dreadfuls.. not like it was in my day

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: It was ever thus

      3000BC - kids today, their lives are ruined by writing... not like it was in my day

      "Stop wittering, Neferp'rem, and pass me that bloody chisel. I've still got two dozen Osiris cock-and-balls to inscribe on this wall today."

    2. Patrick R
      Go

      Re: It was ever thus

      Do you think 2018's parents should not care what ruins their children's life... not like in my day?

    3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: It was ever thus

      obXKCD

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was ever thus

        Don't get it wrong - isolation, some time, is good, and advantageous. It's the reason you're being isolating for, and the effects it has on you, that matters. Acquiring new knowledge may require isolation. Compulsively and passively consuming "contents" in isolation - or even worse becoming obsessed by those contents, is dangerous. Albeit it is acceptable to relax when under control.

        And being in group is not always a good thing either - a group of hooligans is not exactly a good thing.

  18. ForthIsNotDead

    Stable. Door. Horse.

    Up yours.

  19. Stuart Castle

    I think the problem with kids is not so much social media, gaming or anything technology offers. It's parenting.

    It seems to me that a lot of parents just dump their kids in front of the tablet/TV/console and do their own thing, with limited interaction with the kid. Rather than just label me as some liberal fool who believes games encourage violence, please bear in mind I don't actually believe that. I believe that games can cause violence *if* the perpetrator has not been adequately taught by their parents not to use violence. In short, I believe that if your parents just dump you in front of (say) the latest Call of Duty or GTA game rather than actually teach you stuff, you are more likely to turn to violence.

    Similarly, if kids are allowed unrestricted access to any social network, they are likely to learn their behavior from that network. All well and good if their social media friends are good and decent people, but if they are not. I think at the very least, a good parent should be teaching their kids to be careful what they type, and reveal, especially when communicating with people they don't know in real life, and be aware that what they post may be accessible to a lot more people than they intend it to.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      All fine and dandy. But how do you go about enforcing a proper standard of parenting...or even agreeing on one. Also recall, today's parents were probably last generation's tube freaks, sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons and playing Atari and Nintendo, so they could be thinking "What's the harm compared to my generation?"

  20. sisk Silver badge

    Well I'll say this much: my life is so much better since dumping Facebook et al that you wouldn't even believe me if I tried to spell out exactly how much better. I've come to believe that social media brings out the absolute worst in people. We already know that it contributes greatly to depression, which I (and a lot of others who really understand it) personally consider to be one of the most insidious and deadly diseases known to man.

  21. Simon Ward
    Flame

    Easy to preach when you're sat on top of a fuck-ton of cash, isn't it?

    Hypocritical cunts, the lot of 'em.

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