Unsocial Abstention

Being heavily political in nature (I have my deceased father to thank for this), Politics pervaded my thoughts and as evidenced in what’s become of our society, it is highly divisive. WordPress happens to be the only Social Media platform I am on after unplugging from Facebook nearly four years ago. Life continues behind the scenes albeit electronically undocumented, like back in the days complete with all the ups and downs and everything in between.


Chamath Palihapitiya: So the context was I was at Stanford and the dean asked me to speak to the MBA students and in it what I was talking about was the question was, “What do you think the long term effects of Social Media in general are?” And unfortunately what happened was I think it’s easy to characterize what I said just as a Facebook specific thing because I work there and I was a key part of growing it. The reality of what I was…

Interviewer: Explain what you said at the time about…

Chamath Palihapitiya: So what I said was, I think the tools that have been created today are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works and what I meant by that is the following thing.

Today we live in a world now where it is easy to confuse truth and popularity and you can use money to amplify whatever you believe and get people to believe that what is popular is now truthful and what is not popular may not be truthful. You know Joe and I for example, we’ve been on the other side of climate for a long time right and the reality is now, I can take money and I can use that through all of these social media systems that exist to hundreds of millions of people and I can convince all of Joe’s friends and everybody like him of my opinion in very subtle and small ways and he can do the same to me. We can do that about vaccines. We can do that about Gay rights. We can do that about bathroom laws. We can do that about Roy Moore…

And so I think the question we have to ask ourselves is, “How do we live in a world where this is now possible?”

Interviewer: Just to understand it ‘coz I’ve read and watched what you were talking about. Part of it seem to me about the ability to pay to manipulate people’s thoughts. The other seem to me to be this sort of ADD society with which this sort of “Liking” and everything else has created this sort of “feedback loop” that you compare to drugs.

Chamath Palihapitiya: We know for a fact that what all of these systems do, every single one, is it exploits our own natural tendencies in human beings to get and want feedback and that feedback chemically speaking, is the release of dopamine in your brain. And so what these feedback loops do, and they exist everywhere, in Call of Duty, in other video games, in social networking sites, they get you to react…


As truth is elusive, what better way to start the New Year with a truth byte (Reality does bite!) from Chamath Palihapitiya.

The eye-opening video where the transcript (minute marker 2:43-4:56) above is derived from can be seen here in full.

Before I forget, Happy New Year everyone!

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