Was social media a mistake? Here’s an experiment to find out

The role of social media as the new ideological gatekeepers is just part, although the leading part, of our overall dissatisfaction with their product. There is the damage they are doing to the attention spans and social lives of teens who are growing up on them. There is the phenomenon of the Twitter mob and the way social media is responsible for gamifying moral outrage, where readers score points and level up by getting people fired, often based on nothing more than rumors and mass hysteria.

Then there are the awful economics for actual producers of content. Social media companies are designed to profit off our free labor while they treat us like garbage. For example, I have 11,000 Twitter followers, but I don’t know who they are or have any independent way of contacting them. In effect, I have spent years building up a mailing list for Twitter, not myself. What kind of raw deal is that?

I also can’t point to any measurable way in which Twitter has driven traffic to my articles or put money in my pocket. Then again, I can’t point to any way in which Twitter has put money into the pockets of its shareholders, either. At least Facebook has the decency to return a handsome profit by exploiting its access to my entire social network.