Social Media

By editor on January 28, 2018 — 2 mins read

I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew, in the back of our minds, even though we feigned this whole line of like, “There probably aren’t any really bad, unintended consequences.” I think in the deep recesses of our minds, we knew something bad could happen. But I think the way we defined it was not like this. It literally is a point now, where we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are.

I would encourage all of you, as the future leaders of the world, to really internalize how important this is. If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it, to rein it in. It is a point in time where people need to hard brake from some of these tools, and the things that you rely on.

The short-term, dopamine-driven, feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. It’s not an American problem, this is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we’re in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.

It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave, by and between each other. I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years. It’s created huge tensions with my friends and in my social circles.

I’ve posted less than ten times [on Facebook] in seven years. I innately didn’t want to get programmed, so I tuned it out, but I didn’t confront it. And now to see what’s happening, it really bums me out…

Bad actors can now manipulate large swaths of people to do anything they want. It’s a really bad state of affairs, and we compound the problem.

We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded with these short term signals: hearts, likes, thumbs up, and we conflate that with value and we conflate it with truth. What it really is, is fake, brittle popularity. It leaves you more — admit it — vacant and empty than before you did it. Because it forces you into this vicious cycle, like, “What’s the next thing I need to do now?”

Think about that, compounded by two billion people. And think about how people react to the perceptions of others. It’s really, really bad.

I did a great job [at Facebook] and I think that business overwhelmingly does positive good in the world. Where I’ve decided to spend my time is to take the capital that they’ve rewarded me with and now focus on the structural changes that I can control…

You are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you have to decide how much you’re willing to give up. How much of your intellectual independence. (21:42)

Posted in: Society

Editor's Note

These are Chamath Palihapitiya's words. They are probably some of the best thoughts on VC, business, and life, but were scattered around the Internet. They live now in this archive.