Virtual reality pioneer Lanier (Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality) tediously reiterates well-known pitfalls of social media, arguing that the major platforms are manipulating users’ thoughts, goading their inner trolls, tearing society apart, and just generally making everyone unhappy. Lanier, a Silicon Valley insider, spells out his arguments against social media in 10 breezy chapters with titles like “You Are Losing Your Free Will” and “Social Media Is Making Politics Impossible.” His underlying argument takes aim at the business models behind popular platforms like Facebook and Google that enable third-party actors such as advertisers—to pay to modify users’ behavior using personalized, continuously adjusted stimuli. Unfortunately, his short treatise is overridden with shallow political commentary (as when he refers to Trump as a victim of Twitter) and scant analysis of critical issues (he’s quick to dismiss the role of social media in the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Arab Spring uprisings). Baseless generalizations and vague platitudes undermine the author’s case, which is particularly unfortunate given his experience and expertise in the world he skewers. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018 Release date: 06/19/2018 Genre: Nonfiction
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