back to article Social media is too much for most of us to handle

In 2008, I formed a hypothesis that everyone has something to teach you, so the more connected you are, the more you should be able to learn. I decided to make myself the test subject by following as many people as I could on Twitter – what could possibly go wrong? For the first several months the experiment succeeded …

  1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    OK - you win.

    Assuming this was an "if you don't stop complaining about American spelling then this is how bad it could get" article, then consider the message received and understood.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: OK - you win.

      How long is this absolutely useless bitching about the inevitable mutation of language going to continue?

      One wonders what would happen if Mr. Perfect English here ever entered a pub in the Dales on a stormy evening.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OK - you win.

        So now Yank speak is the inevitable mutant that'll take over?

        I'm starting to be on the side of the Sentinels.

      2. Snake Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: American spelling

        One can argue that America's spelling of some words should be considered more 'English' than your own, in that [we] stopped using the old (French) spelling of words like "colour" and modified the spelling to truly reflect English pronunciation. But that hits [some] Brits too hard because [some of you] don't want to admit that your "correct" English is...French. :p ;-)

        Icon, for flame retardant :D

        1. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

          Re: American spelling

          "But that hits [some] Brits too hard because [some of you] don't want to admit that your "correct" English is...French. :p ;-)"

          Being English with (very distant) French ancestors, I can confidently say that "colour" is ours now - finders keepers and all that :)

          1. NATTtrash

            Re: American spelling

            Pardon my French...

        2. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: American spelling

          @Snake "in that [we] stopped using the old (French) spelling of words like "colour" and modified the spelling to truly reflect English pronunciation. "

          So the American spelling is culer? ;)

          1. Mark Exclamation
            Headmaster

            Re: American spelling

            No, that would be pronounced "queue-ler". I think you're looking for "culler" - the double-L softens the U.

            1. TiredNConfused80

              Re: American spelling

              "culla" surely (at least in this bit of the midlands!)

        3. RichardBarrell
          Trollface

          Re: American spelling

          I'm frankly bewildered by the concept that you seem to have in your head, of an English person who isn't constantly preoccupied with thinking about the Norman conquest of 1066.

          "What if Harold had just-" no, mate, no. Let it go.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: American spelling

          "don't want to admit that your "correct" English is...French"

          Ok, that's a caution for hitting below the belt.

        5. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: American spelling

          don't want to admit that your "correct" English is...French.

          Ah bless.

          The Yanks have such simplistic notions of this country and its language. Completely forgot German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Old Norse, Brythonic, Latin, Greek, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Cantonese, Arabic, Yiddish, Russian, Mandarin, …

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: American spelling

            "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

            James Davis Nicoll

            1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

              Re: American spelling

              I like to think of American as 'English - Simplified'

              There should be an option for it in all software language options... with the appropriate flag next to it of course. :)

              Remember... all cookies are biscuits, but not all biscuits are cookies.

              Also... they say 'erbs and we say Herbs... because there's a fucking H in it.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: American spelling

                "Also... they say 'erbs and we say Herbs... because there's a fucking H in it."

                Me sister's Yorkshire born FIL and all 'is mates say 'erbs. Everybody I know here in California says "herbs".

                Most of the Brits I know call Aluminum "Tin" ... as in "I'll get a few tins in".

                1. tiggity Silver badge

                  Re: American spelling

                  Most of the brits I know call it aluminium (bar a couple of chemists, as IUPAC declared aluminum the official spelling as they have got used to the US spelling when writing aricles, speaking at conferences).

                  Maybe it's down to speech style in the area where I live (in the UK) but people generally say cans (rather than tins) when referring to canned beer (though I have a couple of Aussie mates who invariably call them tinnies).

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: American spelling

                    English/Aussies

                    Irish/Scots

                    The septics do tend to get those pairings confused.

                    They rarely seem to mention the Welsh, for some reason.

                  2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: American spelling

                    "though I have a couple of Aussie mates who invariably call them tinnies"

                    I use the Aussie word as it's more fun. I mix up can and tin just to add spice. Soup comes in a can and blue label Heinz beans come in a tin (a very expensive one too).

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Re: American spelling

                      And just to confuse things, I can my own beans.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: American spelling

                  > Most of the Brits I know call Aluminum "Tin" ... as in "I'll get a few tins in".

                  Brits are more likely to call Steel "Tin" ... as in "I'll warm up a tin of beans"

        6. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

          Re: American spelling

          For your argument to make any actual sense... You'd have spelt words like 'Colour' as 'Culler or Culla'

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: American spelling

            Why would we dramatically change the both the spelling and the phonetic 'construction' of the word when a single edit will do?

      3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: OK - you win.

        -- One wonders what would happen if Mr. Perfect English here ever entered a pub in the Dales on a stormy evening. --

        I think he turns into a werewolf!

      4. muddysteve

        Re: OK - you win.

        "One wonders what would happen if Mr. Perfect English here ever entered a pub in the Dales on a stormy evening."

        He'd have been told not to venture onto the moors.

    2. deadlockvictim

      Verbing weirds language

      As a Rightpondian, I don't mind many of the words from the Webster reforms (color, humor, flavor), I dislike, purely on aesthetic grounds, the 'z' in -ize words (recognize, patronise) but I would be really happy if the continual use of nouns as verbs would disappear ('architecting a solution').

      This seems to be a Californian Tech phenomenon and it could also be that I'm getting old and this is the modern equivalent of telling those brats to get off my lawn.

      p.s. For those too young to remember them, the title comes from 'Calvin & Hobbes', one of the great gifts of America to the world: https://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1993/01/25

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Verbing weirds language

        "I dislike, purely on aesthetic grounds, the 'z' in -ize words"

        Damn your French ise, anyway.

        "I would be really happy if the continual use of nouns as verbs would disappear ('architecting a solution'). ::snip:: This seems to be a Californian Tech phenomenon"

        My Big Dic[0] says "architect" can, in fact, be used as a verb ... and that architecting is correct English, going as far as citing a letter from Keats (1794-1821), who wrote "This was architected thus By the great Oceanus.", so it clearly pre-dates California (est. 1846ish, depending on who you talk to).

        [0] OED, second dead tree edition.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, from Twitter to Mastodon

    In other words, you still haven't learned your lesson.

    My wife has. She had an account on Facebook. That account is now frozen and she doesn't go there any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, from Twitter to Mastodon

      I'm not sure there's a lesson to be learned besides that it's trash. Nearly all social media is an underwhelming comedic parody, like a "Lampoon's" version of the TV show "Survivor".

      The author is a mess and needs to get a grip. If you're putting "Social media is too much for most of us to handle" into a headline, you're undoubtedly a fragile first worlder. Shake it off man... this is not who you are.

  3. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    I did something similar

    I suspect many people did. Many of us started way back in the infancy of the interwebz. I had tens of thousands of connections to world leaders, scientists, famous, and presidential candidates. Was instantly connected to world renown journalists and such.

    The worst of it was during the pandemic. When thousands more connected and reached out, and we all formed alcohol problems together.

    Then one day I was hacked. My account was fairly anon, I had kept most privileged personal information off the twits, but it was a wake up call. I had already dumped myspace and facebook. It was obvious it was time to hit delete and walk away.

    You know what? I am so much more productive now. Surprise. Makes sense right? I have found that meaningful connections to those around you are much healthier than drunken anon posts to Got knows who.

    By the way, social really isn't worth it anymore. Half the posts are being posted by a computer now, and the other half are influencers. Social is simply a way for people, and things, that want to take advantage of you to find you. It's not real anymore.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I did something similar

      "I had tens of thousands of connections to world leaders, scientists, famous, and presidential candidates. Was instantly connected to world renown journalists and such."

      Connected in what way? In any way more meaningful than just watching a news channel, for better or worse depending on the channel and people connected with?

      1. Red Ted

        Re: I did something similar

        This is why people still pay (in one way or another) for newspapers and TV News.

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: I did something similar

          Or listen to the radio

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I did something similar

        "I had tens of thousands of connections to world leaders, scientists, famous, and presidential candidates. Was instantly connected to world renown journalists and such."

        And how many of them were competent in communicating useful news succinctly and accurately?

        I think that with the presidential candidate, everything said/written would need far too much checking. The scientist might have needed to carefully spell the words they use so a non-scientist could look them up to find the definition that applies. Famous people are just spewing out self promotion so, null program. World leaders? They are like local politicians except they are out-of-touch with more people.

      3. Omnipresent Bronze badge

        Re: I did something similar

        Yes, not only did I get information first, but it was pieced together from multiple sources. Unfortunately "multiples sources" are now the same sources. Nobody worth a damn gives a crap. Why would you regurgitate the same point of view over and over again from the same sources?

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: I did something similar

        Indeed.

        Back when I still regularly read Usenet – which I started on in 1990 (I know, I was late to the party), though I'd used various BBSes and the like before that – there certainly were people whose names I'd learn to recognize. There were some who were famous in that context, like Kibo; there were some whose names I recognized from meatspace, or whose outside activities I'd become aware of over time. There were even a few I eventually met in person, and in a few cases some I formed close relationships with.

        Aside from that last group, I'm not sure I'd claim I "connected" with any of them in any significant way. I was interested in what they had to say, perhaps. I learned from them, and perhaps taught some. But the same is true of the thousands of fiction authors whose work I've read, as part of my literature studies or on my own, and I wouldn't claim any connection with them.

        How many of these social-media connections have any life outside a few posts? Any actual emotional or intellectual relationship?

        Pesce started his piece by suggesting that having a lot of social-media input is (or so he thought at the time) a good way to learn. Well, there are already plenty of excellent ways to learn – far, far more than any of us could possibly explore in our lifetime. I've yet to see any evidence that social media offers anything of substance not to be had elsewhere.

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: I did something similar

      Yes. As the article says, everyone has something to teach you.

      This is generally one of two things (or both): that most people on social media are idiots or that most of what they repeat from other unreliable sources is wrong.

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Alien

    There's a reason why the hyper-connected Borg supressed emotions in their drones....

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      The Borg learnt that trick from the Cybermen.

      Editor's mailbag, BBSs -> Cybermen

      Twitter, FaceBook -> Borg

      Mastodon, Register Commentards -> ???

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
        Joke

        I've long thought that the Cybermen were Apple's implementation and Borg were Microsoft's. The difference is in the design values.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          This would explain why you could kill Cybermen with gold.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          >Cybermen were Apple's implementation and Borg were Microsoft's

          And the Daleks were Linux ?

          But all they ever talked about was their own superiority and the need to exterminate all other lifeforms - so probably more GNU

          1. Ken Shabby
            Holmes

            But could they climb stairs?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Real Daleks don't climb stairs. They level the building.

  5. BenDwire Silver badge
    Go

    One to bookmark

    The next time someone asks me why I don't do social media then they are getting a link to this article. Perceptive and well written. Thank you.

    1. Joe Drunk
      Trollface

      Re: One to bookmark

      I usually reply with "Because I'm not an attention-starved narcissistic teenager or an adult of like mentality."

      I too will be bookmarking this article.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: One to bookmark

      I'd be happy with social media if it was on paper, I'd read everything on social media while I sit down ... and take a shit. Social Media would keep my arse clean.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bookmark this too

      Jaron Lanier covers this with immense depth and grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCTlcj5vImk (10 reasons to get off social media)

      This covers the bigger picture behind what our El Reg author articulates. Plus it’s a video, and we all know how much folks like videos! It’s also more relevant than ever, despite its production predating many of the worst “enhancements” to social networking services.

      While I could call him the Richard Stallman of technological freedom in the human dimension, that would not be doing him justice. He is filled with empathy and compassion for humanity in general, in lieu of the typical philosophical extremism we come to expect from technology enthusiasts. A shining example of what many of us aspired to be, at least until our disillusionment with the world tainted us into a bunch of enlightened nihilistic cynics. Somehow, this bloke emerged unscathed, and not by luck it seems, but instead through carefully reasoned choices.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Alert

    "We're all stewing in that pot, and it's doing us more harm than good"

    If you wanted empirical evidence of that, we're using that pot to train LLMs, which then go on to simulate nervous breakdowns.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Some of us figured all that out ...

    ... back in the days of email LISTs, Usenet and IRC.

    As a result, I've never had twitter, facebook and whathaveyou accounts. Waste of time for no positive net effect.

    1. Spoobistle

      Re: Some of us figured all that out ...

      Oh, yes, definitely! Although perhaps it was the bandwidth limitation of a serial line or 28K modem in those days that allowed me to get the message before going mad.

      Some years ago it was the fashion to have a big bay window and no curtains, so any passer by could see what you wanted to show off. Now I notice more people seem to be going back to curtains and blinds. Perhaps the next generation of social media will include that.

    2. John Sager

      Re: Some of us figured all that out ...

      Yes indeed! I remember Usenet in the early 90s, and what an education that was! Quite addictive but it lost its attraction once the AOLers and succeeding waves of newbies came on. I've never bothered with Twatter or Farcebook for that reason. My wife uses FB but limits it severely to family & friends, which is the only sensible thing to do.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Some of us figured all that out ...

        I remember Usenet in the early 90s, and what an education that was! Quite addictive but it lost its attraction once the AOLers and succeeding waves of newbies came on.

        Me too! ( :-P )

        Ah, the Eternal September. World's gone to pot since then I tell you.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Some of us figured all that out ...

          Funny how everybody blames AOL for Usenet's issues of that era.

          In reality, it was Delphi releasing its Usenet gateway to the users which fired the first warning shots of that particular war, about a year and a half before AOL.

    3. quxinot

      Re: Some of us figured all that out ...

      People are horrible. Doubly true in groups.

      News at 11.

      (Did the author not go through a childhood, schooling, and otherwise interacting with others to learn this early on?)

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Some of us figured all that out ...

        News at 11

        I think you'll find that it's Film at Eleven.

        M.

  8. andy gibson

    You get out what you put in

    Its wrong to lump all social media as bad. I use Facebook to keep in touch with distant friends and family and just use groups where there's little or no infighting or other battles going on - owners groups for my particular car, some old TV shows I like, mine exploring, and a few humorous ones like "Angry People in Local Newspapers" and "Crap Signs".

    Stay away from the obvious local curtain twitching sites and other places the uneducated tend to congregate and you'll have a positive experience.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: You get out what you put in

      "I use Facebook to keep in touch with distant friends and family"

      Something for which email an mailing lists served just as well long before Zuckerberg went to Harvard.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: You get out what you put in

        "Something for which email an mailing lists served just as well long before Zuckerberg went to Harvard."

        Depends on whether you prefer push or pull.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: You get out what you put in

          Ummm?

          Both need posting messages to an account, which is what I take you mean by push.

          Both need reading messages from the account which is what I take you mean by pull.

          Both need both.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Email is a push system - everything is sent (pushed) to your address, but has to be explicitly sent to you (directly or via a list).

            Social Media is a primarily pull system. You have to go to the specific locations and download (pull) the information you want. If you want an update you have to go to that location to get the update.

            Before the pedants start, yes there is some blurring of the definitions, but the basic principle applies. On a Push system the information is sent to you, in a Pull system you have to go out and locate it.

            1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

              OP here . AC nailed what I was thinking when I wrote the post. Emails are pushed to me and I have little choice other than to ask not to get them (family ructions ensue) or block them at the server (and risk missing important info). Social media is pull (for me) and I can choose whether to follow and/or read. From family ructions perspective, not following someone is not as bad as not wanting their emails and family soon work out that if they want me to know that my niece is massively into purple then they have to tell me and not hope I read it somewhere. Other family politics are available.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: You get out what you put in

      I've seen this thing about "the way you use it". It's not about the individual, it has so much crap and it is being sustained by people who use it, regardless of being involved in the crap or not.

      There are a multitude of better ways to be in touch with friends and family.

      I used to use an interest group on faecebook before 2014, and I miss that group but it's a sacrifice that had to be made to not feel dirty.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You get out what you put in

      I would have agreed with your approach, as that was my method too. Until there was a plan to build an asylum-seekers hostel in our town, and the Facebook group for old pictures of our town suddenly started spewing racist xenophobic bile like Vesuvius spewing lava on Pompei. I left that group.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I’ve just never understood the use case for social media

    The Internet is terrific but it’s not something I want to record publicly available PI on.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some Incorrect Assumptions....And Some Additional Analysis...

    Quote: "We're all stewing in that pot, and it's doing us more harm than good."

    (1) No....please avoid incorrect generalisations like "We're all..."

    Quote: "...always knowing too much about the thoughts and feelings of too many people..."

    (2) No....actually knowing too much about the "ALLEGED thoughts and feelings" of other people

    (3) No....and knowing too much about the LIES and DISINFORMATION propagated by both "people" and "sinister and not so sinister organisations".

    And .... the article fails completely to distinguish between, on the one hand items #2 and #3, and on the other hand something which in the last century was sometimes described as "the truth".

    So.......finally, to summarise, the author's problem with an exploding head can be explained by saying:

    (4) On the interweb ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING IS TRUE!!!!

  11. HMcG

    If you think following someone on Twitter is a social connection (in terms of Dunbar's) then you don't understand social connections.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti-social Media

    is designed to be highly addictive just like any hard drug. The almighty Zuck has admitted that.

    If you can get off the drug then do so now. It is a great time to kick the habit with Musk single handedly destroying Twitter. That one pit of steaming excrement less to consider.

    I've never been on any of these platforms. I never tried hard drugs. I guess there is some correlation there.

    Say NO to social media. You know it makes sense.

    Oh, and anyone who says, contact me on Facebook (or any other platform), they are someone not worth following.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Anti-social Media

      So what's el'reg ?

      Is it just for people too anti-social for other social media? The park bench meth drinkers of drug addicts

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anti-social Media

        Meths drinkers.

        Even commentards aren't hardcore enough to drink meth!

        Well, maybe one or two: (your suggestions here)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Anti-social Media

          On the subject of lighter fluid as the great one said:

          Nonsense. This is a far superior drink to meths. The wankers don't drink it because they can't afford it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Anti-social Media

          For clarification

          In the UK Meths is what we call Metholated Spirit ....... a not very useful solvent, smells a bit like 'Raw potatoes' crossed with 'Acetone'.

          Used to be supplied in Childrens Chemistry Sets to fuel the burner that you used to heat things in test-tubes.

          Not to be confused with Meth AKA Crystal Meth !!!

  13. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
    Unhappy

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

    >> This was all raw and real – anger coming from all the voices inside my head shrieking about injustice, oppression, and terror.

    People is receiving a neverending feed of tragedy and horror, so they know[1] all the awful things that are going on, but they as a rule can't do anything about them.

    The only answer possible then is impotence, fear, anger, and eventually, the dark side...

    [1] for specific values of "know". It is difficult to find out which ones are even true

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Similar

    I made friends on social media, met new people, lovers and even a long term partner.

    It was great.

    Then, over the past decade, it started to turn into something else, I notice it was pitching antagonistic accounts at me, starting to anger me and I found myself clicking, scrolling, getting angrier and generally unhappier, feeling annoyed but somehow unable to turn away.

    I canned Facebook, that was an easy call because most of the people I wanted to be in touch with I was chatting tououtside of FB, plus my ex was on there and in the habit of sending abusive messages about me to friends (yes, police involved), but I carried on with Twitter, at one point I think I had 7 accounts going, separating different parts of my life between them, a couple were largely automated tweets about various geeky things.

    Slowly they died off as I got more annoyed and eventually, when Elon bought it, I killed the last 3 off.

    Weirldy since then my RSI, my mood and general demeanour, me physical and mental health have all improved.

    So kids, social media is bad mm'kay?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Similar

      >I made friends on social media, met new people, lovers and even a long term partner.

      Me too, then this big bald black bloke pulled me out of it and made me learn kung-fu and jump off buildings

  15. Del Varner

    Just think what this does to the developing brains of children and adolescents.

    If as has been suggested that the human brain does not finish developing until the age of 25, what effect will it have on those brains?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Just think what this does to the developing brains of children and adolescents.

      > the human brain does not finish developing until the age of 25

      For men it's 55

  16. chivo243 Silver badge
    Happy

    It's all a dog and pony show

    I didn't buy into social media (except El Reg of course) when it hit the scenes. There were better 'real' things to be doing.

  17. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Forums

    I got lucky when Zuck decided this wasn't my real name and denied me a Faecebook account unless I sent him my driver's license.

    I only do forums like this one, The Whiteboard, and a few others. Nobody ever seems to remember they exist.

    We all actually mostly know each other and post intelligent, considered comments. Much better than the rest of the crap.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taken in bits it need not be too soul destroying

    I'll put my hand up (anonymously of course!) and admit to using a FaceBook account for the last few years, since the lockdowns started, in fact. And have found it to be useful, in parts ('Er Indoors complains that Register forums get me riled up more!)

    FB Messenger is as good a way to video call the family as any of the alternatives (we started back then, to support the youngsters who were going a bit stir crazy in Uni away from home, and have kept on regularly ever since).

    FB groups for various cons & festivals that were cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled again and finally went ahead kept hopeful attendees enthused; these groups are now being used to spread useful info (e.g. con memberships on sale - NOW. Whoops, all gone; next tranche out on...). The Concellation group (the con that never happened) is still going on, fun to dip back into for a bit every now and again.

    Now, admittedly I have no idea where "My Timeline" is (don't tell me, really don't care) and if there is a news feed, again, I have no idea - I only know where to find those specific groups of interest and the "new posts"/"new messages" dropdowns on the web page, so obviously I'm not "really" on FB.

    And I get annoyed if told that FB is the best (or only!) place to find info on something (that is so stupid, searching for stuff like when they posted who the support will be on the Friday night - or even IF they posted it - is futile). We've missed acts because "we only post changes on FaceBook, so much better than than changing our website" - but all their other posts were saying how absolutely faboo the acts that had just finished were and the SNR was dreadful!

    1. RPF

      Re: Taken in bits it need not be too soul destroying

      https://bgr.com/tech/app-privacy-labels-facebook-messenger-vs-imessge-signal-whatsapp/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taken in bits it need not be too soul destroying

        OP here. Bit late responding, but:

        The groups I mentioned are on FB, so there is little point in using the other systems mentioned in the article you referenced: signing up to more than one system is just going to be worse.

        FWIW, the FB webpages (including Messenger) are being accessed from a browser that isn't used for anything else. I'll admit to using FB but do take *some* precautions (e.g., what is this "app" thing you refer to? :-) ).

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did set up FB and Twatter accounts again..

    .. as I needed to do some research.

    But they're used via VPN, the email account is one I can zap in a minute, the name is bogus and I generated a picture via AI. And all notifications are disabled as I really only use it for research, I have absolutely zero interest in the drivel that floats past, and my firewalls (machine and network) kill off any website links that signal my presence to FB and Twitter.

    Now here's the fun bit: I also created a fake person on LinkedIn and pretended to work for a big company. It took less than a day for some people try try and hook up - some of whom I knew.

    I have not been on asocial media as "me" for years, but that doesn't mean Zuck does not have my details: there are unfortunately too many people I know who also have WhatsApp installed, and sending entire address books to Data Robber Central is about the first thing any Meta product does. And I have no need for the rubbish dump called LinkedIn either.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    Sleep well!

    Knowing the tech bros are also using social media as part of their AI training, what could wrong?

    Sleep well!

    Rocket boasted dystopian overlords on steroids are just what we need for the coming disaster times! /s

    1. Ropewash

      Re: Sleep well!

      I certainly can sleep well, knowing the future AI overlords are now completely stunlocked by having their heads filled with perfectly balanced conflicting input.

  21. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

    Viral media content is to quality media content as ...

    ... high sugar, rancid fat junk food is to a healthy balanced diet.

    I think most of the horrors the author was bombarded with on Twitter were specially selected by a generic social media algorithm which selects the most "viral" content. However, viral is not the same as healthy or high quality.

  22. Grunchy Silver badge

    I got an iPhone 4

    Minding my own business, I was perusing the “technology discard” bin at Staples when I espied a discard iPhone 4. Yoink! (Despite that being disallowed: like the dump, the discard bin was supposed to be “deposit only.”)

    The ‘phone was account locked, however. Rats. Then I looked up the emergency contact info, and was presented with a Twitter handle. Well then! 60 seconds later, now I’m a Twit, too.

    Later on began what could only be described as a “harassment campaign.” I did indeed contact that former owner, explained who I was and what I was after, and after about a week was able to coach them into logging into their Apple account and de-registering the offending iPhone 4. You see, I was creating a spectacle around their personal Twit account, and embarrassing them in front of their peers.

    Once I had the ‘phone unlocked, I proceeded to delete each and every tweet and photo I had uploaded onto the service. Which permanently eliminated my intrusion into these hapless individuals’ lives. Then I deleted my Twit account, and installed AirPlay server onto my new device, which to this day still serves as my media server for the hi-fi downstairs.

    I genuinely have no idea what everybody else is doing on social media. If you’re not getting at least an iPhone 4 out of it, it’s a complete waste of time, I reckon.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I got an iPhone 4

      "the discard bin was supposed to be “deposit only.”

      The local big box diy store has bins for recycling and I always give them a good rummage. The batteries for my Dewalt power tools are very dear and I find them in the bin every so often. It's usually one duff cell that's made them unusable and they aren't hard to sort out. Even if it takes a whole new set of cells, I can refurbish the pack for very little money. Better yet, I can often get higher capacity cells. I'm hoping to get another battery pack so I can build a dummy pack with leads out that can be plugged into something I can wear on my belt. It would make the tool much lighter and for lots of things having the cord isn't an issue.

      The car monitoring I have uses a bluetooth transmitter in the OBDII port and a phablet I got cheap running Torque Pro. The phone was ESN locked but since I wasn't going to try and use a SIM in it, who cares. I don't think it's system compatible anymore anyway. If I spot another large phone in good nick being recycled, I'm going to grab it to monitor the solar system I'm putting in. I'd rather not use my functioning phone for apps.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I got an iPhone 4

        > to monitor the solar system I'm putting in.

        Note that installing your own solar system in your car may void the warranty

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I got an iPhone 4

          "Note that installing your own solar system in your car may void the warranty"

          The cars I buy are usually past their manufacturer's warranty already, so no problem there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I got an iPhone 4

            It wasn't the car he was worried about.

            You get a dent in one of those planetary rings and it is out of warranty, well, you'll be wishing you'd just dropped an icy moon into a sewer instead, at least you can still get those at wholesale prices.

  23. LybsterRoy Silver badge

    Please do not give links to a paywalled page.

  24. sabroni Silver badge

    Anecdotes aren't data

    Here's another anecdote: https://www.techdirt.com/2023/06/28/social-media-was-useful-for-me-as-an-ill-nerdy-teenager/

    But what does actual science say about social media: https://www.techdirt.com/2023/06/28/no-social-media-is-not-the-same-thing-as-lead-paint/

    The mainstream media tells us, repeatedly, that social media is bad. You can follow the money to work out why that is.

  25. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Flood tide

    In the old days, the evening news was encapsulation of the things going on locally with the network news after covering more of the nation and the world. I'm not sure that a firehose of every little thing from all corners benefits me in anyway. There's nothing I can do when I see a report that a parent has "kidnapped" their child from an estranged spouse/genetic donor. Am I required to be concerned? Do I stand at the side of the road looking for the car they made off in? I think that this sort of reporting is a detriment to society. The national statistics often show that the levels of a particular crime haven't changed much in years. They might have in the local area if the new District Attorney won't charge people or hold them when they get caught, but that's where the local news does its job. Perhaps this is why there's a massive school run now when in my day we all walked to school in good weather with parents standing out on their porches with coffee in hand watching as we all made our way around the block to the local school. A stranger sitting in a van watching would quickly find themselves being closely watched with a policeman coming by to wish them a good morning and find out who the hell they are.

    Way back in the beginning when I had a Twitter account, I found very quickly that there's a hard limit on how much I could keep up with. Even just following workmates, family and a few friends got unwieldy. Toss in a couple of celebs like Eric Idle and Steve Martin and there was no way I could even skim the posts each day. The problem was compounded by all of the creative abbreviations and unusual acronyms that required decoding each post a chore and hard to just skim. First I started dropping people and when Twitter dropped support for the browser on my old tired computer I used for basic online stuff, I just deleted the account as too much work and too little return.

  26. nijam Silver badge

    > I formed a hypothesis that everyone has something to teach you

    I'm fairly sure I stopped believing that when I was about four years old.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Oh, everyone has something to teach you – if nothing else, precisely what sort of idiot they are.

      Not everyone's teaching is worth your investment of time and attention, of course. We have actually developed some decent mechanisms to help people filter that; they're not perfect, but they do a lot of the work. Social media largely lacks them.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Has anybody else noticed that projection is the new black?

  27. Cincinnataroo

    Do not abandon hope?

    If we could ditch the current crop of browsers, the user interfaces of these systems, ... and more, there is potential.

    We have the raw materials of a golden age, it's being wasted.

    It's up to the individual. Accept defeat and think that these monstrosities are your only options, or do something.

  28. Plest Silver badge
    Gimp

    The key is discipline!

    I did spend a lot of time on Facebook, promoted my photography, joined tons of groups and got to meet and converse with a huge number of photographers, and my photography skills went through the roof. One day a publisher contacted me, he wanted to discuss me writing a photography book, 5 year project and completed in 2019, the book is on sale on Amazon and earns me a nice little bit of pocket moeny as do many of my photos via Getty. So yes I think social media is good when you're disciplined and use it as a tool to further an external interest.

    However the dark side of it all was that I would spend countless hours for 3-4 years solid constantly on forums, posting, replying, arguing, discussing, even when I was supposed to be working I'd be checking and sneaking off the bogs so I could post something. Then one day I got home from work I told my wife, who owns my photography business, to take the accounts for the photo biz and change the passwords, that was 3 years ago now.

    I've not been on Facebook in over 3 years, I've lost contact with so many great people and sometimes I feel like I cut my nose to spite my face but it had to be done. I was a social media junkie, I needed a fix every 15-30 mins every single day, all day long. When I wasn't online I was worried all the time about what I was missing. I was destroying my mental health, turning me into an addict, pathetic.

    I feel much better now, I'm more calm, less stressed if I have something to post I ask my wife to do it, she vets it, holds it for a few hours and then sends it once we agree it's OK, just to be sure I'm not writing bollocks for the sake of it.

    So yes, social media has merit but you have to be super disciplined to use it for what it is, a tool to zero in on the good people you need in your life and be able to tell others to get lost.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The key is discipline!

      "I've lost contact with so many great people and sometimes I feel like I cut my nose to spite my face"

      Some people I know have been good at leveraging Social Media and do that by posting throw-away photos, behind the scenes images, etc as a way to drive people to their own website where they controlled their content.

      I don't have time for that and I already have hits from around the world that I see when I look at my web site stats. They will never net me any income. I don't make photos of things around the world, just close by. My advertising has to target potential customers that are near me. I just got a call 10 minutes ago from somebody that was looking for a photographer in the area to make 360deg photos and supply them with the raw images. That's work I don't do. When I called back, he told me that depending on the make/model of my phone..... MY PHONE, he could send me a link to download an app to capture the photos. While that was work in my service area, it's not work I do so even when I get local calls, they aren't always a match. I expect he wasn't going to pay much anyway so no big deal turning him down. I have some product dev work for a client right now, so doing really low paying photography work isn't going to happen. I'd be happy to sneak out and make photos of a million dollar home or new business complex as those pay well and aren't very hard to shoehorn in even when I have good paying engineering work (why I always pad my timelines).

  29. Bruce Ordway

    something snapped... I couldn't look

    This article reminds me how much I used to like Compuserve dial-up.

    CServes content was limited but... organized, so much easier (for me) to deal with.

    I have to admit, the internet overtaking dial-up services opened up a lot of new destinations.

    But... it introduced so much chaos, disorganization, etc... too.

  30. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Feeling upset is no more "poor mental health" than feeling tired is poor physical health. Unless you're under 25, as far as I can see.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I went cold turkey on social media a few years ago. I'd been using social media for years - it started out OK, a simple way to chat to long lost rellys, see pictures of their kids, where they went on holiday, playing games/quizzes. And then it all went bad...

    I had a few lightbulb moments which led to me quitting. The first was after I had crafted a post on Facebook and got upset when it got no likes, I felt annoyed and mildly upset. Then caught myself when I realised that me feeling this way was ridiculous. Did I really that badly need to get my ego stroked? Why was I seeking this validation? What had social media turned me into? I did not like what I had become.

    Linkedin is an interesting one too. I did not logon for a while and when I went back in it was largely composed of people bragging about some achievement and seeking praise or people seeking jobs/business. I understand it is useful for the latter but it is not worth putting up with the former.

    Another lightbulb moment was during COVID when I got increasingly fed up with all of the disinformation and erroneous data around health and science generally - not just vaccinations (let's not go there), but just generally with health as, with people in lockdown they had more time to spend reading and sharing. I found myself countering posts that people were making and sharing with explanations about the science/medicine behind the scary news stories..... "when a news article says <food type> increases your risk of cancer by 20% it does not mean that there is a 20% chance of getting cancer if you eat it; it means the risk (which was already low in most cases) increase by 20% i.e. from 10 in 100,000 to 12 in 100,000 which is statistically practically insignificant."

    I got fed up trying to explain the reality behind the hype/disinformation - again why was I doing this? It's not my job, what made me the expert? Why should I have to try to explain to people why they were being misled? How much did my responses really matter? Again, social media was turning me into something I did not like.

    And finally there were all the angries as I called them. People being aggressive about whatever crazy topic it was on both sides of any discussion. Brexit, Trump, Biden, Boris Johnson, COVID, whatever.... a steady stream of topics where people vented their fury or had some conspiracy theory. I eventually likened the situation to when I was younger and there was always some weirdo in the pub/on the bus who had some crazy theory and went on about it. In those days we smiled and moved away from them. And now their voice is equal to everyone else's and we listen to them and feed them more fuel and oxygen. I don't need to listen to people with mental issues.

    The privacy angle also worried me. I don't need to say any more than that.

    So I quit, kept away from the news too which is always profoundly depressing (as bad news sells) and immediately felt better for it. No regrets; I have not missed anything as a result.

    I found an extra hour a day of my time to do other more fulfilling things, like reading books. My anxiety levels dropped. My blood pressure dropped (yes, seriously). I slept better.

    So peeps try quitting. You may be surprised how addictive this crap is, but actually once you do give up you get that realisation just how trivial, irrelevant and damaging social media really is.

    And if you want to make a snarky comment, go stick it on Facebook. I won't see it. Ironically this is social media too - I know that. But the difference is, having said my piece I'm not going to come back and read any responses. Nor am I going to give any attention to how many thumbs up and thumbs downs I get. But I am sharing just in the hope that others may find this useful and may think of doing the same.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "I found an extra hour a day of my time to do other more fulfilling things, like reading books. "

      I avoid Social Media and also got rid of the telly years ago. I do a lot more reading (or listening to audiobooks), I have a garden and I'm getting to a bunch of the projects that have been sitting around for years. Right now it's just too dang hot to do much of anything, so I sit inside with the headphones on commentarding and getting a good laugh from some of the references. I'll be back at the electronics bench after a bit of a snack.

  32. FuzzyTheBear
    Coat

    Showstopper for me.

    What made me pull the plug ages ago was going through the pile and oh surprise .. the video of the beheading of an american.

    Was a long time ago if you remember the incident.

    With such images stuck for weeks in my head i stopped to follow anything on the net.

    I come here .. few other good adresses , but following " social media " ? got to be kidding me,

    we're all better off without that garbage.

  33. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I'm a proud

    user of FB , however its limited to a few friends and family as a way of quickly spreading news about(weddings, births, deaths, cat/dog pictures)

    And no matter what they try and fling at me, Adblocker takes care of most of it, and common sense goes 'nope dont follow this idiot/shit'

    And to be honest... more active on el-reg than FB a lot of the time.

    And as for the rest of the cesspool sorry social media....... stuff that. more important things to do than star at some 'influencer' falling off a skateboard

  34. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    My social media experience went something like....

    Get talked into creating facebook account in 2007 by work colleagues.

    Delete facebook in 2008 after realising what a toxic wasteland of shite it is.

    Get talked into creating a facebook account in 2010 by friends who are slowly losing the ability to communicate by any other means.

    Delete facebook in 2012 after realising it's still a toxic wasteland of shite and that it's not worth having just for those people who now refuse to communicate by any other method.

    Create twitter account in 2012 for the express purpose of talking to a woman I had a thing years earlier with and still kinda pined for.

    Realise twitter is a wasteland of toxic shite and stop using it... only to start using it again 3yrs later to speak to the same woman.... stop using it again because it's shite... only to use it again 3yrs later just to speak to the same woman... only to be an arsehole because I'd just been diagnosed as on the spectrum and was kinda angry and dealing with decades of missed opportunities to diagnose (there was also a B12 deficiency thing going on that I'd neglected for 6 months).... and she never responded to my apology. So deleted twitter and never went back.

    In 2011, got invited to the beta of Google+ and actually loved it. All of the data harvesting was done in the background... no ads. I met great people, made long lasting friendships and even had a relationship because of it. But as with all things google... spin of the good parts and kill off the rest.

    The concept of snap/insta and all of the others fills me with a deep dark sense of foreboding... I know how they work, I know the tricks they employ to keep you on them and scrolling... I'm also not immune to them, in fact my autism kinda makes me more aware and susceptible... which leads to a cycle of getting sucked in, becoming aware of getting sucked in, which leads to a self loathing cycle.

    The only way to win... is not to play.

    So I now avoid them all... those that wanted to stay in touch with me... did so using normal means, phone/txt and messaging apps (whatsapp/signal/telegram). It's a very short list... you really do find out who is worth your friendship when you can't use social media... because your mental health isn't as important as their convenience.

    Then last year I tried Mastodon.

    Finally, I've found a place I like, I feel at home... I've made friends, I've grown to have more than 500 followers (more than any other site I've ever used except G+ with over 5000) and I can just be my weird, quirky, sarcastic self without recrimination.

    I've said for more than a decade that social media is bad for your mental health... For almost 20yrs I've said that the best thing about the internet is that it gives everyone a voice, and the worst thing about the internet is that it gives EVERYONE a voice.

    I've been proved right... time and time again.

    Be a winner... give up social media.

  35. StLMintNewbee

    News too

    And news too. Let’s face it. 99% of the “news” - isn’t. Not useful to my life. Just filler. Clickbait. Turn that crap off.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media is not mandatory.

    Go into your account settings and select permanently delete your account.

  37. tiggity Silver badge

    Information Overload

    I would never have the time to follow tens of thousands of people on social media (whether they were posting about disasters or mundane things)

    If I followed 10K people who only posted once a week that would be (if evenly spread) just under 1.5K messages a day (& being realistic once a week probably a massive under estimate*) - that's why news media (be it El Reg, newspapers etc) are useful - information is curated (OK, this may be a bad thing on occasion with "groupthink" affecting reporting of some news stories & some outlets having particular biases) but does mean people can get news "efficiently" without sifting through thousands of messages to find the few nuggets of interest.

    * I'm not really a social media person, about the only one I ever used much was G+ & that got the (fairly common) Google cull applied quite a few years ago, so message frequency estimates are a wild guess.

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