How many needed truths has the world lost to the delete button? We will never know. But perhaps this author should have used the delete button a few more times.
Less is always more. And if you can get it done with nine lines of code, no need to write ten.
But let me not be a hypocrite and keep to the point. Lanier is a brilliant man. His work in the field of computer science has been visionary. But frankly, I think Argument Nine should have been deleted, or fiercely edited.
The study of the social sciences are not as exacting as say computer science. They involve humans, not machines. And as Lanier put it: “free will is a mysterious idea; it is a leap of faith.” Humans are not programmable. And if you believe so, you either don’t have children or you’ve never interacted with another human in your entire life.
Lanier needed to apply his own reasoning to his conclusions on politics in America, particularly the results of the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s victory was no product of Russian Facebook ads. The election was not somehow “stolen” from Hillary Clinton. The demographics of those Americans who elected Trump, and there were obviously many, were not getting their political marching orders from Facebook or any other social media. Check the stats on who uses social media to get their news. Look up the average age and political leanings of the majority of social media users, especially Facebook and Twitter. They’re not conservative, nor are they over the age of 40.
Trump might tweet a lot of seeming nonsense, but he’s not talking to a large body of supporters. He’s targeting, I believe, a whole other demographic for political purposes. And perhaps he has some other purposes, but I won’t get into that here.
And while social media’s availability had a big part to play in provoking sentiments during the Arab Spring and other political uprisings, Facebook and Twitter were only tools used by humans with free wills…and souls.
From the beginning of time until its end, a tool will remain just that—a tool. It’s how humans want to use tools or not use them that changes society, politics or personal well-being.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that individual humans are not vulnerable to manipulation. But that manipulation can only have power so far as we allow it; so far as the manipulation benefits us somehow…or as it may seem. It’s our choice.
As a P.S.:
Hillary lost because she has had highly questionable political dealings for decades. She is also the wife of Bill Clinton (who was brought up on impeachment charges for abuse of power and obstruction of justice and that Paula Jones incident, among others). And well, she lost because the majority of Americans don’t rely on social media to figure out how to think. We have memories and read books, long ones.
Putin’s decision to spend a measly $100,000 on Facebook ads (if he in fact did that) could never have had any impact on the election of 2016. Do the math. Zuckerberg came out looking like a boss for nothing.