A parable for the adversarial relationsihp between social networks and their users


Your day is divided into on-network and off-network instants. The off-network instants aren’t completely without utility: in some, you’re producing ideas and digital artifacts which will later become content (thanks!); in others, you’re earning the requisite dinero that keeps you in the coveted demographic of people with discretionary income (thanks again!).

You want to keep the set of on-network instants small. You like the network (you grew up with it!), but come on. You live in a world of atoms and physical sensation and those sorts of nice features. You’ve got better things to do than thumb-power the content conveyer belt.

I want to keep your set of on-network instants large. I get a gargantuan scoop of guacamole at the end of the month for every on-network instant you spend. My guacamole stores are plentiful, but so were MySpace’s in ‘07; you can’t get cocky in this game.

I pay legions of A-players boatloads of bullion to keep that set of instants right where I want it. Good luck, compadre. They have very rich pedigrees and advanced degrees and are on the whole wonderful people and a pleasure to work with. But make no mistake: with respect to your instants, the A-players work for me.

You, however, have a nuclear option. You might navigate with several not-so-optimized taps to the user settings menu where you might request that your account be deactivated. You might then tap and hold my application’s icon until the “Uninstall” choice appears and subsequently tap it as well. (You might use Google Translate to convert these instructions to your mobile operating system of choice.)

Against this nuclear option, I have no defense. If you value your instants, I suggest that you take it.


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