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Social Media’s Dark Side: How Facebook and Snapchat Try to Steal Our Self-Worth | Tristan Harris

Social Media’s Dark Side: How Facebook and Snapchat Try to Steal Our Self-Worth | Tristan Harris

Well, there’s a really common misconception
that technology is neutral and it’s up to us to just choose how to use it. And so we’re sitting there and we’re scrolling
and we find ourselves in this kind of wormhole and then we say, “Oh man, like, I should
really have more self-control.” And that’s partially true, but what we forget
when we talk about it that way is that there’s a thousand engineers on the other side of
the screen whose job it was to get my finger to do that the next time. And there’s this whole playbook of techniques
that they use to get us to keep using the software more. Was design always this manipulative? It wasn’t always this way. In fact, back in the 1970s and the early ’80s
at Xerox PARC when Steve Jobs first went over and saw the graphical user interface, the
way people talked about computers and what computers were supposed to be was a “bicycle
for our minds” that, here we are, you take a human being and they have a certain set
of capacities and capabilities, and then you give them a bicycle and they can go to all
these new distances, they’re empowered to go to these brand-new places and to do these
new things, to have these new capacities. And that’s always been the philosophy of people
who make technology: how do we create bicycles for our minds to do and empower us to feel
and access more? Now, when the first iPhone was introduced
it was also the philosophy of the technology; how do we empower people to do something more? And in those days it wasn’t manipulative because
there was no competition for attention. Photoshop wasn’t trying to maximize how much
attention it took from you—it didn’t measure its success that way. And the Internet overall had been, in the
very beginning, not designed to maximize attention, it was just putting things out there, putting
things out there, creating these message boards. It wasn’t designed with this whole persuasive
psychology that emerged later. What happened is that the attention economy
and this race for attention got more and more competitive, and the more competitive it got
to get people’s attention on, let’s say a news website, the more they need to add these
design principles, these more manipulative design tactics as ways of holding onto your
attention. And so YouTube goes from being a more neutral,
honest tool of just, “Here’s a video,” to, “Oh, do you want to see these other
videos? And do you want to auto-play the next video? And here’s some notifications…” These products start to look and feel more
like media that’s about maximizing consumption and less like bicycles for our minds. And I think that’s such a subtle an important
thing to recognize, is that more and more of technology is really not on our team to
help us spend our time the way we want to, it’s more on the team of maximizing how much
time we spend on the screen. Right now, the only way to succeed in the
app store is by proving you’re really good at getting people’s attention. And so by making attention the currency of
success it forces all of these good-hearted, good-intentioned people who make apps or make
media sites, to do things they don’t want to do just because they have to get attention. You have mediation apps that have to send
you all thee notifications and add streaks and do all this game-y stuff just to get you
to use it the most, as opposed to having the phone itself recognize that there’s parts
of your life where mediation might want to be at the top of the list for you, because
you’re defining that, and so that meditation app could win for the right reasons, not for
the wrong reasons. So we always worry about new technologies
when they first appear. When people started bringing out the newspapers
on the subway people worried, “Oh my god, people are going to stop talking to each other
on the subway!” And then TV showed up and people worried,
“Oh my god, people are going to spend all this time at home!” And the radio—we always worry, and then
somehow it seems to turn out okay. Back in the 1970s people were at home on the
telephone and calling each other all the time, we thought, “Oh the kids these days, what
are they doing to their minds?” So now it’s tempting to say, “Well now the
kids these days they’re on Snapchat, and therefore we survived all those other technology transitions,
nothing really bad happened, so maybe it’s all okay, this is just kids being kids in
a new way.” And I want to talk about why that’s not true
and why this is different. What’s different is that, let’s say—let’s
take that telephone example: in the 1970s if someone picked up a telephone to go call
their friend and they spent time gossiping on the telephone, we could do that, that’s
fine. But the telephone wasn’t updated every day
with new manipulative design principles to be better and better at seducing you into
calling your friends. So what’s different with Snapchat is that
there are a thousand engineers every single day who work on the product to actually find
new ways not to just get you to use it but to kind of tap you both on the shoulder and
try to get you into a reciprocity relationship where you owe someone else a response. In fact they have a feature in Snapchat called
Snapstreaks. And Snapstreaks count the number of days in
a row you’ve sent a message back-and-forth with someone. So if I have a best friend and we’ve been
chatting every day for a hundred days I see a little fireball and the number 100 next
to it. And what that does is, they’ve just created
something now I don’t want to lose because I have a streak going, I’ve got a hundred
days and now if I don’t send them a message tomorrow I’m going to lose the whole thing. And when you’re a kid actually this has a
really big impact on you. I’m not making this up. There’s a woman named Emily Weinstein at Harvard
who studied the effects of Snapchat and Snapstreaks on kids by accident—it emerged in her interviews. And she found out that kids, when they go
on vacation they have to give their password to up to five other friends to actually have
them send messages while they’re gone on vacation because they’re so worried about losing their
Snapstreaks. In fact a lot of kids, they wake up and they
see these 30 contacts with different streaks and they have to just take pictures of floors
and ceilings just to kind of get through all these Snapstreaks so they don’t lose any of
them. So we have to ask, when Snapchat is designing
a feature like Snapstreaks, are they doing that because they most want to help kids empower
them to live their lives or are they doing that because it’s really good at getting their
attention? And when we’re parents and we see kids using
it this way we have to recognize there’s something very different going on here. This was not true in the 1970s when we had
a neutral telephone that we would choose to use when we wanted to use it. There are now a thousand people behind our
new telephone, which is say, Snapchat, that’s being designed and updated every day to be
more compelling at addicting and holding onto people’s attention. And it’s not good for us. I think we can all feel it. We become more and more on the treadmill to
the number of likes or feedback we get, basically, from social media and start tying our own
approval, our own self-worth to how much attention we get from other people. I mean, even for me I notice that if I post
something it does affect me whether or not I have a lot of likes or few likes. And it’s hard to really, if you think about
it and get to the sense of, “My self-worth is completely independent of that.” That’s a subtle thing to hold and developmentally,
children are more vulnerable to their self-worth being externalized like this. And the problem is that there’s always been,
as well, ways of externalizing our self-worth in terms of how much money we have in our
bank account or in terms of how many friends we have, but now the externalization of our
self-worth is controlled by a handful of companies whose goals are different than our goals. They’re not evil companies, they just have
the different goal of maximizing attention, and our goals are not that. But the problem is that their goals become
our goals. This is what’s actually so dangerous, is that
their goals of engaging us the most by having us care about likes become our goals. We actually wake up in the morning as a sovereign
human beings and we start caring about the number of likes we got, as if that’s our goal
in life. That becomes our goal. And it’s as if we’ve been infected, it’s as
if they’ve drilled a hole in the back of our head and now they’ve injected the virus and
now we walk around searching for feedback using social media. And they won, if that happens. And again, it’s not because they’re evil but
they’re in a different game, they’re trying to maximize attention. But we have to ask a much deeper question,
which is: what do we want in our lives and what is our self-worth actually tied to? And maybe it’s being virtuous or being a good
friend or caring about what matters or living by our values. There’s a whole bunch of things that we can
define for ourselves, and I think the less people have to find their own values the more
vulnerable they are to someone else coming in and giving them their values. And to fix that we’re going to need to talk
about different kinds of metrics, different ways of measuring success and monetizing success. So instead of making more money the more time
we get, we instead make more money the more we’ve helped you in your life.

100 thoughts on “Social Media’s Dark Side: How Facebook and Snapchat Try to Steal Our Self-Worth | Tristan Harris

  1. going on a social media free streak – catch me not looking at your storylines for X amount of days bih

  2. Karl Marx:"This theory sums up to one sentence:Abolish all private property"

    Me on this video:"This information sums up into one sentence:Abolish Facebook,Whatsapp,Snapchat and let's use only Telegram and Protonmail"

  3. Only one thing is wrong with the video: STOP SAYING THOSE FUCKING CRIMINAL COMPANIES ARE NOT EVIL. And how they are trying to maximize "attention". They are not. They are trying to maximize profits. At all costs.

  4. Thank you! I'm not going mad then. Sometimes I feel I'm in the film "Invasion of the body snatchers". I recognise so much of what you said here. It was really, really helpful hear a stranger articulate a lot of thoughts and feeling I've been having about tech. I'm middle aged so I think it helps a lot that I was born before the Internet. It's changed so much recently. I struggle with my iPhone, because it can be really useful, but I'm always calmer when I don't have it. Keep up the good work. Warmest wishes.

  5. Technology is not only enslaving us, it is turning us into soft, useless and pathetic beings. We were once a powerful species, both physically and creatively, because we had to be to survive. Now, if the electricity goes down for one day watch everyone panic…… it's pretty sad really.

  6. I love how he gives examples of how people worried newspapers would stop people talking on subways, tv would make people stay at home and then it turns out ok. Even though people do stay at home more and dont talk on subways so who knows maybe they were right.

  7. Fantastic piece! Wouldn't it be amazing if the metric could be shifted to how many we help, rather than how many 'likes' or eyeballs! Thank you!

  8. It's because Selfish Gain, Profits are valued over the Good of the People.  This will continue until we put People first in America, not Profits.  Business should abide by the same philosophy as medicine, Do No Harm.

  9. Technology is great when its used properly or balanced manner ,but what if people are connected to someone whom you do not know ,but not talking to you're family .
    Its the sign of alienation ,getting deep inside into it and then lost n Virtual world s much that you start creating you're own realty a Virtual friend and world eventually leading to anxiety and depression and then in some cases leading to suicidal tendencies (Watch the case of blue whale).

    You are more desperate about like and tweets then to see how your;e family is doing?
    The more we are moving towards technical advancement the less we know so its time to make a balance and lets connect to real world.

  10. So irrelevant !!the first 3 minutes I forget I'm watching this video on YouTube actually,got mesmerised kind off listing to what he's saying then suddenly I "came back" to figured out ,this just another "attention grabbing video" in the "getting more attention battle.

  11. People think I'm weird because I don't have a cell phone and I'm 35 but at least I'm in control. This guy has great points but I detest when people "talk with their hands."

  12. Very good insight here as we rise into an era of tyrannical technology. As Coach Corey Wayne would say: this is, "something to think about." This is also a great example of why Coach Corey has such a great business model for his YouTube channel & the valuable content he creates & book he wrote. Understandingrelationships.com

  13. He seems to overlook addiction. Defining our own self-worth etc may not matter when our reward pathways are hijacked. It's like telling a junky that his self-worth is not how the drug makes him feel — good luck with that. But the anecdote about how kids give their Snapchat passwords to friends so they can help with streaks does support what he is saying, because having your friend maintain the activity is different than a direct chemical driven addiction. So I am not dismissing the self-worth argument, just adding the issue of addiction to it

  14. Evolution for human beings is going to take an interesting turn now that technology is shaping our lives and brains

  15. I've wasted so much time on youtube watching melee videos, but I can simply choose not to watch them. But with snapchat and facebook, if I receive a message I have a social(almost moral) obligation to respond promptly. That platform is not a neutral platform, it's a for profit company that is driven with the purpose of increasing the value of their ads with my attention, and that is not in our best interest. If their was a neutral platform somehow, perhaps that would be different, like the 1970s telephone that he describes. However, for now, have self awareness enough to be cautious with how you perceive facebook, social media, other platforms, and their use in your daily life

  16. i knew snapchat, instagram, etc were all bad for us but i couldn't pinpoint it until now. it determines self worth all too often, especially with kids.

  17. Facebook won't allow you to delete your account so just start sending feminists gore and grotesque porn content. Works like a charm.

  18. Like he said, companies injecting values into our heads has happened for like the last 150 years. I still don't like it, but it's nothing new, just look at debears diamonds with arguable the most successful ad campaign of all time. We as a culture STILL think the only way to make a solid commitment and profess our love is with a diamond, but that didn't start until they brainwashed us.

    The only thing that's changed in these circumstances is the options they have to push advertising to us. Back in the day phones couldn't instantly push an advertisement to us anywhere as long as they're carrying a portable device. Technology advances, but we still stay the same, just as greedy, but with more advanced options to push our greed to others.

  19. Eh… TV and Radio were like this though… Think about TV shows using cliffhangers to get people to come back, advertising to kids to compel them to get their parents to buy toys, radios having giveaways to try and get listeners to tune in at specific times…

  20. Same goes for Youtube…I mean the highest paid youtubers are going to extreme lengths just to get the most views. i.E. Logan Paul.
    Their sense of empathy for society and the world is so distorted because they sold their soul for money and fame. It's a dopamine fix we are all hooked, I know I am.

  21. I noticed that I was seeking attention when posting on social media; I also felt shitty after scrolling through everyones carefully depicted lives. I decided that, I don't need your attention and I definitely dont need to be involved in everybodies business. But that's just me.

  22. You can still choose to use social media and not care about the likes, snap streaks, etc. Even though I would argue snap streaks encourages friends to have more interaction enhancing their relationship. I would talk to my sister a couple times a month before we decided to keep our streak going . Also you can turn notifications off if you want and the recommend videos on YouTube are great if you watch channels like Big Think, has introduced me to so many cool concepts and ideas I would’ve never searched on my own which have greatly enhanced my life. So yes these are manipulative techniques to keep your attention but at the end of the day your a conscious human, it’s all about how you use social media

  23. the kids who grew up with this can t even function without it its fucking really sad. its total brainwashing. the more time you spend on your cell phone you are just rewiring your brain

  24. Wish I hv known earlier. But better late than never. In the end people will be lovers of money n themselves. Very true, it's coming to pass. No doubt. Thank God for insights.

  25. This is y I'm Old School. I still prefer vhs & 📀s 2that Amazon stick w all the movies & shows on it. I actually hate that thing! I prefer bubble 📺 s 2flat screen 📺. The flat screen ones r just2 overrated. I even prefer radios w tape & CD players than an iPod! Never owned an iPod, & IDC2 either!!!

  26. Maximize your mind with more knowledge…without all the noise….it has always been that way. It's just that "the noise", has got more clever. Fortunately, this "noise" is easily detectable…a new twist on the huckster barking out his schpeel .

  27. Too much of anything is a bad thing, and that applies to technology too. I love Youtube because of all the educational stuff on here but I also like to watch entertaining stuff that serves no real purpose too…sometimes. I've turned off notifications for all of my social media accounts, I only add people I actually know, and only follow a handful of celebrities and funny pages. Technology/social media isn't completely evil, you just have to make sure you have the upper hand and not let it control you. Like I said, notifications are off and I normally use the apps for around 15 mins everyday. Moderation is key.

  28. to me this was the best part – "the less people have to find their own values, the more vulnerable the are to someone else coming in and giving them their values"

  29. I think the focus on social media is just the tip of the iceberg (or maybe more like the roots), as it seems much of the social media model has invaded/infected other platforms.

    WordPress, for one easy-picking example. Sure, you are expected to at least make a show of posting minimally meaty content, but they still have those likes and followers. Go to your blog and hope there's a few red dots in the upper right-hand corner. What one like me will not want to admit, is that the passion for the producing of entertaining posts (I like to write poetry) slowly, oh so slowly, lowers in comparative priority next to the prospect of snagging a few easy red dots (someone, someone oh someone out there, liked my post, or became a follower, or left a comment (taking the slot machine comparison into account, not all payouts are equal). And it's oh so pitifully true: if I check and find no new red dots, well, yes, there is this discomfort, and a compulsion to write something and get it posted. So there's that.

    Then lately I've learned about these 'click farms' from which anyone with any kind of online presence can actually purchase likes and followers. Madness, man it's madness.

  30. Interesting. Thanks.

    My latest research paper deals with understanding the dark side of social media. It is free to download here till 12th Sept 2018.


  31. You have a community with 2.4 million subscribers. Though there is less than 80 thousand views on this video. It seems to me that people don't want to know and handle the truth, someone needs to change the direction our generation is heading because this is going to kill humanity. Call me crazy but time will tell.

  32. Techonology is no different from the alphabet or tools to fix cars. You still decide how to live your life ( to the best of your abilities). The tech only assists you. And, like sugar, too much of technology usage is not always good for you.

  33. so many intelligent people in the comment section. I sincerely hope we all shut off our devices more and enjoy and explore the world offline.🌷

  34. This man's whole premise is that human life has some sort of meaning and value that is being manipulated by others in their terms, when there is no evidence to support people's time has any value other than those who profit from it (we're all whores, if you haven't noticed — giving our time to others profit called "working"). The phrase "you can't rape the willing" comes to mind. I assume his intentions are for good, obviously trying to make a living from fear mongering conspiracy and anti-conglomerate propaganda. Those who don't have self-esteem or self-actualization will be "thinned out" in the "survival of the fittest" scheme of things, on time and on schedule, as it should be. The real problem lies in his hypocrisy of "we're smarter than most people" (which isn't true) and "you need to know this to make decisions" (which no one heeds) and that the future is apocalyptic bleak without change (it's always been bleak since being kicked out of the garden). Who is he talking to? A generation of kids who don't want marriage, children, houses, cars, 9 to 5 jobs, have tattoos and piercings, who vape, drink, and think drugs are recreational, and can't seem to commit to a gender or sexual orientation — who have never learned critical thinking. When rich/famous celebrities who have EVERYTHING keep overdosing on drugs and kids kill everyone at school and massive immigration/homelessness from poverty and abuse happens, there is no value in living. Just say no hasn't ever worked. What's the alternative? The Roman Empire fell and you can go to Rome today and see the ruins.

  35. Newspapers were bad for society. The telephone and television were even worse. smartphones are exponentially worse and create generations of socially retarded, delusional fukn idiots.

  36. Facebook creates comments to look like YOU did it. That’s very dangerous, Facebook can post a law breaking comment to look like you did it and have you sent to prison. Run away from Facebook as fast as you can and save yourselves. They are satans people.

  37. I appreciate his efforts at diplomacy/neutrality, but I'm pretty sure psychically subjugating the greater mass of humanity for monetary gain is definitively evil.

  38. I think it is enslavement that there are microphones everywhere targeting words and raising red flags and not actually understanding the context of how the words were spoken.

    The same shitty algorithms used to advertise are being used to decide who to kill in a car accident.

    cars have all of these new safety bells and whistles yet driving feels a lot more hazardous.

    what if we are going to be judged the same way for thiughts one day and punished without fair trial?

  39. I’m thinking of deleting the YouTube, Pinterest and other such apps on my phone. If I want to use YouTube, I will just go on the actual computer like I did when I was a teen.
    I’m only 24, a millennial, so I did have a childhood without smartphones. It was happy and I remember controlling my time and my life. Trouble is, I still need to use this kind of technology often, I just need to set boundaries.

  40. The following videos may change someone's life:

  41. Too much technology we die in a flood. Not enough technology we die in a drought. Issue is who much is too much? How much liberal and affirmative action race gender bias quotas is too much? It's never enough. No one will ever get enough to create reality on line. If it ships in a wire it's fake, not real. Profiteers use technology for globalism, technology, immigration, education, and legally counterfeiting currency. It's a war. There are winners and losers. How can I responsibly use heroin, prostitutes, and drugs? Can't do that. Protect yourself.

  42. Many bad things happened. Drugs, sex, rock and roll really did ruin our culture and the baby boom. Our parents in the 1960's were right. Too many liberals, too many globalists, too many college graduates, too many predators, too many evil people preying on children. This is a fake evil world. Turn off the machine and turn on to nature, my own true real nature. Let go of the machines or they will kill us all.

  43. Yeah, this is a whole new ballgame, and I and many people I know are noticing how it is affecting the social sphere in our communities. No one is willing to make eye contact anymore, or make new friends or, even just have any type of personal conversation. No one cares about socializing anymore, because we’ve created a new digital life for ourselves, and it’s easier than meeting and socializing with people, so we’re just naturally going to gravitate towards what’s easier on average. But it’s just snowballing into a huge social problem where it’s getting even harder and harder to go out and socialize as EVERYONE is being affected by it. As less and less people aren’t as willing to socialize, It’s just getting harder and harder for the individual to overcome and navigate the current social terrain even if they want to, and in many cases the failed attempts at socializing become too emotionally painful for people that they just opt to do what everyone else is doing and just retreat into their little digital oasis where they will be entertained enough to not become quite depressed enough to commit suicide but still remain fundamentally lonely. I hate to say it, but I honestly think this is just going to get worse before it gets better.

  44. Very good video, ah shit, I just fed into the whole thing…. oh well… an honest, aware like is okay I think 😉

  45. Thanks for this! Enlightening and will be detoxing for a month and then hopefully deleting my accounts.

  46. Facebook and WhatsZap is Not the real Internet, is only other privacy villain. For me Facebook is an unprofessional social environment (platform), for non senses. It's just an despicable social network. Is an very unprofessional environment, then I have my own website and I'm much satisfied with it. I do not need followers, likes or any other thing to know how many hypocrites and pathological egomaniacs around me. The internet needs to be redesigned eliminating all surveillance and espionage monopolies from Shadow Government and police state. Mark why not undress yourself in public?: 'Nothing is sacred. Nothing is secret […] Bregna in my hands […]' ( Trevor Goodchild ). The most terrible thing about expose your personal life for all is abdicating your freedom of speech to receiving threats from governmental, stalkers, corporate or from unknown nature. I hope Facebook has the same fate in the stars as Orkut, Myspace, Geo-cities.

  47. I was blocked from using FB for three days. A real blessing! I got a lot more done and enjoying life more. I realized that I was a slave to FB which is an intrusive time-sponge. I don't miss it one bit!

  48. I was looking at something on social media and Facebook how thay stealing private information going by Australia people owl pm from Australia has being cracking down on Australia Facebook and there social media in Australia but i starting to think it everywhere mmmm yes mark and his Facebook hq is getting out of control i was watching that he got to much power now thay carck down on it you don't even here no people reporting it funny now thay got all kind of people like there a thing on Facebook cops that which you

  49. Before engineers there were other people doing the hook work. TV, radio, newspaper, your girlfriend. It's hooks all the way down.

  50. You are right. In America now everything is a big popularity contest! People are now so super competitive & obnoxious that all manners & morality seems to have gone out the window. This is the reason the government is collapsing as elected officials are playing the like/dislike game. They are bullying each other over a variety of highly charged emotional issues like race, sex scandals, abortion, white nationalism, immigrants, children in cages. It seems everyone is running around name calling each other & making outrageous accusations so they can be the big hero while demonizing & defaming someone they are competing with. This is a very unhealthy situation & is causing many people to be depressed or have breakdowns from all the bullying & pressure to excel or conform.

  51. The answer is easy to the question. Facebook is enslaving us. People don't even look at each other or communicate with one another anymore. Most of us became slaves to technology.

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