How Did We Get So Stuck on Here?

Our complicated relationship with social media might be simpler than it feels. Just remember how it started.

It’s a testament to the power of the biggest social platforms that many common complaints about them sound contradictory.

They’re accelerators for extremism that simultaneously uphold suffocating consensus. They’re wastes of attention and should play a smaller role in people’s lives; however, they also need to be improved, refined and purged of bad actors, whoever you think they might be. They’re advanced surveillance machines, but they also routinely serve irrelevant recommendations and ads. They’re cutting-edge behavior modification tools, but they’re also overtly spammy, seeking engagement through clumsy and often misleading notifications.

And for, or despite, all those reasons, people can’t seem to leave them — a point bolstered by financial statements. Facebook, as a company, is doing extraordinarily well, and Twitter saw its revenue grow last quarter.

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