The Great Digital Con Game

Have you ever stopped to think about the politics or economics of social media and digital sharing? Jaron Lanier has.

Stop “offering yourselves up on a platter,” said Jaron Lanier. In today’s world of social media and digital sharing, we upload, tweet, instagram, share, and “like” with abandon. But have you ever stopped to think about the politics or economics of this new world order?

Take Instagram, for example. “When photography happened on film, a company like Kodak directly employed 140,000 middle-class people,” all making money from the products it created. Today, we have Instagram: a company that recently sold for $1 billion, employs 13 people, and “makes money off content that others—that is, you—create.”

You young people ought to wake up. By buying into the digital lifestyle, “you’ve become passive little playthings of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, screwing yourselves over for their profit.” The sad thing is that this isn’t “some evil conspiracy that’s taking away your future.” You’re giving it away!

“You’re sending all your data to companies in California so that they can sell behavioral models of you to whoever pays them the most to manipulate you.” And in exchange, what do you get? A chance to promote yourself? Likes and retweets? Reputation? Goodwill? Those “informal online benefits” are great, but be warned: “You can’t retire on them.”

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