Sean Parker talks about the dark side of Facebook.
With billions of users worldwide, Facebook is still the de facto social network that keeps the global community connected. However, there is a dark side to the online platform, with negative psychological effects that are only beginning to be spoken about in academic circles and via some media outlets. In truth, Facebook is a powerful communication tool but, as many have often fallen prey to, it can also be a conduit into a dark underbelly of the human condition, where insecurity runs rampant and can potentially replace comfortable human interaction as a result. Earlier today, Axios published the highlights of a speech that the site's founding president, Sean Parker, had given at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, about accelerating cancer innovation. The conversation did veer into Facebook territory and some of the information Parker divulged was bleak to say the very least.
"When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, 'I'm not on social media,'" he commented. "And I would say, 'OK. You know, you will be.' And then they would say, 'No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.' And I would say, ... 'We'll get you eventually.'" Painting himself as more of a conscientious objector to social media, Parker didn't mince words when he talked about Facebook's capabilities to change human behavior.
"I don't know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying," he continued, "because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people [...] it literally changes your relationship with society [...] it probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains." Additionally, he thinks that those transformative abilities can become predatory, insofar as the social network can perhaps control its user. "It's a social-validation feedback loop," he said. "Exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."
Are you in the same boat with Parker? Do you think that Facebook and other social networks have a negative effect on our lives? Let us know in the comments.