Social media has done much to enrich our world, but its possibly done just as much to dehumanise our lives.
The problems with social media and other social technology are huge and complex, and not solved by any one business doing things differently. But they are solvable by a community of effort, over time, once we have a deep enough understanding of the issues.
As a rough overview, these are some of our concerns:
Mental health deterioration
Breakdown of truth and sense-making
Polarization of communities
Insidious political manipulation
Superficialisation of relationships
Please visit the Center for Humane Technology to get a deeper understanding of these problems. We really recommend this site.
We Are Humans Project Platforms
We use three social media platforms – Instagram, Facebook and MeWe - for specific purposes, and we use them carefully.
Of all of these, Facebook is the most problematic, and we considered going without it altogether. But we decided to use FB because,
- We don’t take a militant approach to these problems and we recognise that FB is a major part of people’s lives.
- We can see how to use it for what it does best – create an online gathering point – and eschew its other, more problematic, uses.
- There are techniques, like demetrication and newsfeed control, that can mitigate some of the effects of FB’s algorithms.
- Overcoming the problems of social media is likely better done by practicing adjustments and disciplines within social media platforms, rather than by simple boycotts.
This is a work-in-progress. For now, understand that we’ll be using Facebook as a kind of digital town hall, where people can gather and organise and make polite chat. Facebook is great for interest-groups to organise and swap information, but we advise being wary of it as either a sense-making tool, as a place to conduct personal relationships, or as a place to showcase and test the value of your work, your ideas or your identity.
For personal relationship maintenance, we recommend taking that off any social media platform and moving it entirely to face-to-face presence, phone calls, and more neutral tech spaces, like email and text.
For semi-personal relationships, we value social media where it respects privacy, is non-predatory about data, and recognises the problems of distraction and metrication of social engagement. For this we use MeWe. MeWe is where our more in-depth and interesting interactions take place.
For visual insights into what we’re up to, and connecting to other businesses, we use Instagram, but we encourage you to ignore likes and other metrics, and perhaps follow our efforts to make time on Instagram less superficial.
If you are interested in the project of making social media more humane, and would like to work with us, get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.
Look for articles on this topic coming up in our RESOURCES section. Meanwhile, join us on social media! We’d love to chat there about any of these things.
Stay safe, and take care of your time online.