Note — Oct 04, 2020

Don’t Blame Social Media. Blame Capitalism.

Seen in → No.144

Source → jacobinmag.com/2020/09/social-media-platform-ca...

I haven’t read all the (or that many, really) pieces opposing the Social Dilemma in part or completely, but this one by Paris Marx is quite good because instead of focusing on who’s speaking, on their background, and on which detail or line of inquiry its missing, he looks at the broader picture and focuses his argument on the substrate for social media and much of tech today; capitalism, consumerism, decimated public goods, and the all mighty commercial imperative.

It is important to understand what effects these technologies are having on us, both personally and collectively, but failing to recognize the longer history of these problems and the broader structures that contribute to them will lead us to solutions that don’t actually get to the root causes. […]

What all of this tells us is that reducing growing social problems to new technologies is simply not accurate. Framing the problem in that way makes it seem as though if we create better platforms, our problems will be solved — but if the platforms are responding to the economic incentives of the capitalist system, maybe that should get more scrutiny. […]

We need to recognize that the internet was the product of public funding and research, and maybe improving it requires returning to a more non-commercial structure where public companies own key infrastructural pieces, cooperatives operate a range of platforms with far different incentives given the lack of profit motive, and average people can collaborate on new digital tools without a commercial imperative.