Dear Sean Parker: about your Facebook exploit of my mind

I just saw your remarks about how you, and the other social media inventors, exploited our minds.

I’m your first addict. So, nice to meet you again.

You sound like that drug dealer who is trying to clean your conscience by admitting some of the harm you have done. Oh, sure, what you did is legal. You found a way to have my own brain generate the dopamine instead of selling me a white powder, or some poison in a bottle.

I’m thinking a lot lately about the drug you sold (and still sell). I’ve been getting my life clean from my addictions. Just an hour ago I was at an Alcoholics Meeting working on getting free of alcohol. We don’t yet have a 12-step program for getting free of social media, but maybe we should. Two weeks ago my life became unmanageable due to both alcohol and social media and my own childhood abuse, which got me into a raft of bad thinking and unmet needs that didn’t serve me well with some people (on the other hand, I have 15,000 business cards, including yours, so those compulsions did lead me to an interesting life as well).

Where I used to seek solace in a bottle, or attention in the form of likes, or worse, I now am using meditation, prayer, exercise, helping others, taking care of my kids, amongst other techniques to improve my feeble brain that’s so easily exploited by others, including you.

I listened to you for some real learning. I found little. Truth is Facebook brings a lot of good, too. It holds all my children’s photos all the way back to birth. If my home ever burns down no longer do I need to find my photo album to save my memories, I have them all there.

Hearing you exploited me wasn’t new knowledge, either. We all knew what we were doing and having had done to ourselves. And I played along, gave up this blog years ago because I sought the engagement of others. The likes. The comments. I noticed on Facebook that I got a lot more than here on my blog.

The real learning, if you had gotten there yourself, is to go back to long-form slow media. Not the quick hit of Facebook or Twitter. But the long burn of actually writing or reading something that has more than 280 characters or a one-minute video.

That’s what I’m about to do. I’m working on two books, one on marketing in this new world of addicted people (I call that the “Outrage Economy” which you greatly participated in yesterday by saying something that would get through the noise to the top of Techmeme) and one on my family’s inside view of innovation. Your role might be the opening chapter in that, so congrats.

It took me five days of total abstinence from social media for my hand to stop twitching. The drug you sold is so strong. Stronger, even, than my other addictions. But now that I’m at least free enough to see that addiction clearly I don’t blame you. I participated in this addiction as a dealer too and brought others into being your customers, but mostly I brought myself.

I hope to help others come out the other side as well. There’s more to life than likes, comments, and shares. Funny, as I was about to hit publish on this post I thought about adding a photo to it from this last weekend where we drove 2,000 miles around Nevada and Arizona and back to our home in Half Moon Bay, CA. Decided not to because I knew that’s another technique that exploits people’s minds and is designed to get more play on social media.

For myself, over the next six months you’ll see me on social media a lot less and on long-form blogging a lot more. You’ll also note that I have no comments here turned on. That’s for a reason, too. I want to have face-to-face conversations, not quick hits in my comment section.

The way out of addiction is to stop using the drug. In AA we say “one day at a time” and make a commitment not to drink. By posting here today I’m doing the same. I’m Robert Scoble and I’m a social media addict. Thanks for the drug, now it’s time for something else to fill the void inside.

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