"Why I'm leaving X and social media behind" — Douglas Rushkoff

Originally published at: "Why I'm leaving X and social media behind" — Douglas Rushkoff | Boing Boing


I think that social media is kind of like the Tragedy of the Commons. Only there are infinite cows and infinite grass, so the cows are all just trying to push the other cows aside so that they will be the ones who are noticed, all the while continuing to eat grass that is increasingly covered in shit.


That they were systematically enclosed by the ruling wealthy? Except in this case there never were commons to be enclosed, they were always walled off private spaces of the wealthy.

The stupid essay tragedy of the commons, aside from having no merit to its argument and making no sound historical case manages to misstate what actually happened to the well maintained, well used, and much needed commons with the Enclosure Acts.


I should have clarified that I am not a proponent of the idea; it’s just that that’s the image that pops into my head when I think of what social media has become.


This is a timely reminder for me to Avoid News and re-read this insightful PDF again:

“Avoid News - Towards a Healthy News Diet”


Social media was always that, an unspoken attempt to force the Internet back into the AOL “walled-garden” experience for the average user. And inside those walls, which lacked humans to tend to the grounds: poisonous and carnivorous plants, gaudy billboards appealing to the lowest common denominator, and all manner of shady characters wandering about provoking fights and spreading lies and facing no consequences for it.

We’re all focused on Musk now, but Dorsey wasn’t much better. How anyone ever trusted someone as openly contemptuous of his users as Zuckerberg is still a puzzle to me. Yet the first impulse for many as Xitter collapses in upon itself is to consider switching to Bluesky or Threads.


I’m sorry, I got a couple of pages into that and found so much I disagreed with I just couldn’t keep reading it. I noticed that was written in 2010. We live in a world now where actual fascists are trying to gain control of government. And partially succeeding. Here’s a good example of where I have a problem with that article:

Afraid you will miss “something important”? From my experience, if something really important happens, you will hear about it, even if you live in a cocoon that protects you from the news. Friends and colleagues will tell you about relevant events far more reliably than any news organization. They will fill you in with the added benefit of metainformation, since they know your priorities and you know how they think.

Really? Your friends will let you know. And how did they hear about this important information? I mean, this is literally talking about living in a bubble and only getting information from other people who think like you, and it’s a big part of the reason why so many people still think the election in 2020 was stolen. I fully agree that modern news reporting and media outlets are a big part of the problem, but shutting that off and getting all of your information from your Uncle Bill, your next door neighbor Joanne, and your coworker Alex is not the solution. That will lead to a Trump reelection in 2024, and that won’t be irrelevant to your life. And certainly not to mine.


Articles like this should lead to a greater appreciation of what we have here, as well as how hard folks work to make sure it does not devolve into a Xitter-like shit show. To our mods, leaders and mutants in general
Thanks Thank You GIF by BLKBOK


I’m not sure what platforms such as Twitter, even pre-Elon are that specifically useful for. I can get news elsewhere and the “debates”, such as they are, are bound to be performative because the debate participants are playing for likes.


This was great, thanks.

Quitting is so freeing. I really have more time because I don’t doom scroll for extra 5 minutes every hour. I focus on the things that make me happy on the toilet on my phone, rather than what makes me sad, and it has made a world of difference.

Just like current VR isn’t really the viable solution to a virtual reality, current social media doesn’t help people be social. Whether the tool’s purpose is true is now my indicator.

Ediit: iPad English


I’m thankful for that too. Still, this is social media too, right? So Rushkoff would decline membership here too.

His point about how social media fosters binary thinking and speaking rings true for me, even in a space as open to nuance, and as full of people willing and able to appreciate it, as this place is. It rings true for me personally in that, while typing and reading in these limited-space boxes, I sometim3s find myself falling for the “pick a side quickly and defend it!” expectation sooner than I do otherwise.

So yeah, I obviously enjoy and appreciate this place, but I’m not going to fall into another all-bad vs. all-good binary (Xitter vs. BBS). They’re both social media.


BB is a relic of a past with a functional forum that has a relatively small user base. It isn’t for “everyone on one platform to several all needs and interests”. It’s geared for “Happy mutants and mostly wonderful things. Mostly.” So between self selection and moderation, this place has more civilized vibe, precisely because it is a smaller, niche site.

As I scroll through 90% of content I didn’t ask for to see an update among one of my hobby groups on FB, I start to miss the half dozen vbulletin forums that I used to frequent, that are either gone now, or skeletons of their former selves.


We’re supposed to be reading that in Newt’s voice from Aliens, right?


(@danimagoo quoting from the PDF.)

And increasingly, you will be given your information from AIs that decide for you what you want to know or think.


I’ve come to see social media (and a lot of online engagement) as like some kind of video game-- debates aren’t about coming to an understanding or agreement, or seeing nuance and ambiguity, they’re about scoring emotional points and rooting for a team. I think we’re stimulating endorphin receptors when we engage in this stuff, like a bureaucrat who feels some inner boost for enforcing petty rules at the expense of the people he’s supposed to be serving.


i think sigourner weaver reaction is about right

eta: the former actress’s comment about twitter ( via imdb ) is nicely relevant. i think it sums up the kind of thing people hope for with social media… but the long term reality is maybe something else

Twitter has been a pleasant surprise for me. I never imagined that anyone would be interested in what I have to say! It’s been fun hearing from fans around the world. Hearing how much the fans still enjoy Aliens, and what my character has meant to them has been awesome. I enjoy chatting and replying when I can.


It’s a shame that you didn’t read any further as this situation is what the author is talking about; understanding the difference between the news, which is an information source that is designed to stir up emotions, and hard facts.

The article is not about sticking your head in the sand but choosing what you pay attention to.

I understand your point about necessary action against corrupt government but that also overestimates our own ability to influence things. Which fascist government are we talking about…? If you are in the US, you can take direct action against your local and federal administration by voting and/or participating with local groups. You are less unlikely to influence others in different states, particularly against strong existing incumbent red/blue divisions, and you are even more unlikely to have an effect on Viktor Orban’s government in Hungary…

Perhaps the most awful and current example of this is the situation in Gaza. Thanks to our collective powerlessness, the daily news is numbing and unhelpful but understanding the background as to how the hell we ended up here is something that will benefit you and your friends.

The news and, perhaps especially, Twitter aim to stoke controversy and division, as this ups their viewer/visitor engagement scores, but this also disempowers informed analysis and decisions.

FWIW, I pay for The Guardian, FT.com/The Atlantic and The New Yorker. You can probably guess my political spectrum.


I skimmed the rest of it to make sure it wasn’t satire. It wasn’t, and that isn’t the situation the author is talking about. He literally advises us to turn off traditional news sources and to rely on our friends and colleagues for information. This is horrible advice. And I mean horrible. He then talks some about reading scientific journals and the like, but the truth is that those kinds of publications are not widely available to most of the general public. That entire article can be summed up by saying, “Tell me you’re a white, cishet man with money without telling me you’re a white, cishet man with money.” His basic premise is dripping with unacknowledged privilege.

Center-left. Emphasis on center. I don’t know if you think that makes your statements more reliable, but it does not. I frankly don’t think it’s relevant at all. Plus, why are you paying for those when that article tells you to not read them?


This really is horrible advice. My colleagues are all writers and journalists and I still wouldn’t necessarily rely on them in this way. There’s zero chance I’d rely on friends or those in the community. I live in a small town and the amount of misinformation out there even around widely covered issues is staggering. The bigger the issue, the worse it gets.


“Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no.” (from the essay).

Maybe you meant something different by “hard facts,” like in how some news sources are selective in which facts they report. But facts are facts and saying they aren’t important is bold.