Dear @jacknicas

I know this may come as a surprise, but it is pretty easy to live outside the echo chamber. Do you have any clue how silly it is to even consider “#BoycottApple” or “#DeleteFacebook“? The very idea of hash tags to suggest buy-in or membership is characteristic of the ever-anti- socialmedia industry. People have been ‘tagging’ their thoughts with words for a few centuries; their readers use critical thinking skills rather than CSS and HTML to figure it out for themselves.

I could use my smart phone to ‘tweet’ something to you. The analysts you relied on would say I use android to do so. Android is a flavour of Linux, a node in a hierarchy of remixes and reformations with many descendants. My particular version is LineageOS without gapps. Not even play store. Is there a lot of Google code in there? you damn betcha, featherbreath. Opensource Google code, reused and in some cases improved, and redistributed. Your analysts would be wrong.

Just because you think you know something doesn’t mean you do. My browser lies about what software I am using, which operating system I am on, and what my preferred language is. TOR, VPN[en.WP], and various other tools mislead servers as to where I may be physically located. If I really decided to send you a tweet I would probably use a site reached via I2P which in turn links through other services eventually to Twitter’s API. No single link in that chain knows more than links on either side of it – the first does not even know that Twitter is the ultimate destination. What Twitter thinks has happened has little to do with the reality.

I am a critical consumer of information. It was this distrustful approach, seeking useful networks of people and information which needed to be constantly tested for veracity, which made it relatively easy to break from Big Social Media. The corporations were constantly asking for ultimate trust, yet the actual trustworthiness of the networks was low and becoming lower. As a value proposition it was not acceptable.

But I was also not young even a decade ago, when I was giving up on the social media industries. I knew I could give up the relationships and networks and build new ones. Younger people may not have the self-confidence or experience to step outside a space within which they have been kept comfortable.

Netizens who do leave the oft-toxic socialmedia industrial sites usually discover the internet is a (somewhat frighteningly) large place outside the bubble. There are even simultaneously congruent-yet-invisible internets. There are nooks and crannies, forgotten technologies which still work and new innovations carving new vistas. They can, and mostly will, find ways to be online yet not villeins in some socialmedia fiefdom. Their hardest task is to discover which of a bewildering continuum of options for endeavour and interest they wish to do.

(Which, by the way, is an excellent way to detect who is not a social media gnat: people who are on the internet and are doing rather than passively consuming.)

Many people who are breaking a socialmedia addiction, though, go offline. Instead of using their free time to trawl through a walled garden for the profit of a corporation they focus on their in-person relationships, going out in the world and doing things, or maybe staying at home and focusing on a craft or interest which is more tangible than virtual. Maybe they will be back online at a different stage in their lives; who knows?