In a recent episode of the Young Americans podcast, Jack Butler asks a question – when many leaders in Silicon Valley are stopping their kids from using the services their own companies (or their neighbors) build, isn't that a problem?
Or, more simply: is the most productive sector of the US economy making things that are bad for us?
But those questions are completely identical. Not using something that's bad for you, that sounds like a good reaction. Not letting your kids use it, and getting the word out – which is surely how Jack Butler found out whatever information prompted his question – seems like the next step. Truthfully, the originally posed question sounds more like a solution than a problem. Something's bad – so people stopped using it.
But should we be worried people make things we ought not use? I'm not so sure. I've strongly recommended against using Facebook, but yielded for people who seemed to use to solely as an instant messenger, event planner, or marketing channel (while still reminding people the company is comically evil).
But if something is bad... people will just stop using it... and then the badness goes away. Basically (although adtech is a strange exception to this – that industry truly is built on involuntary experiences), we don't have to sweat it too much. Let's make choices about what makes our lives better, and have things, over time, sort themselves out.
I don't object the mercilessly ridiculing people using Facebook in the meantine, though – it should have a stigma at least as bad as still using an AOL email account.
The real concern is that using these services is an obligation – you can't not be constantly available. You'll... not get invited to those events those totally reasonable people are using Facebook for, I guess. And other things. Not being on LinkedIn surfaces an unknown but possibly real risk you won't be constantly harrassed by recruiters who have absolutely no interest in any individual person they spam. That's... bad... I guess.
The theory of markets breaks down, under the assumption something is literally an obligation. Your voice is silenced, your preferences swamped by circumstance, and no level of evil behavior or destructive influence on your life will be punished by the Except... that's a stone cold stupid thing to imagine is happening. It'd be a big problem, sure, but, with the exception of "do you have an email account somewhere?", there really isn't any expectation you use these services. The lock-in is almost zero. Just text with people, or email them.
You aren't obligated to use Facebook. Find me someone that only has one chat app on their phone. People don't mind having apps they use to just talk to one person – trust me, I know, from how many people I've hectored into using Signal (before it slowly stopped letting me send messages to anyone). I certainly don't mind.
Let's stop pretending we have to do the easy things. They sort of stink right now, subsidized by the low-effort non-day-planner using people that just want an additive thing in their pocket.