The digital Stockholm syndrome

“I promise tomorrow I will quit”! Stop what? Take your pick: Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and sometimes even Linkedin. Who hasn’t heard this from friends or even said it oneself. And in the end? Rarely followed by effects.

There are many reasons, rational or not, to leave the big social networks and for years the oracles have been telling us that their adoption curve will one day become a disaffection curve. And yet, while a click is enough to escape, we take a malicious pleasure to stay with digital kidnappers that we like to criticize.

More and more reasons to leave the big platforms

The criticisms made to Facebook et al. are numerous, sometimes legitimate, sometimes due to our own uses.

1°) An obvious disregard for users’ personal data

2°) Not really fair terms of use.

3°) A signal/noise ratio that is constantly deteriorating (less and less quality, interesting content)

4°) Increasingly aggressive and intolerant behavior

5°) More and more inappropriate behavior ( sales approaches on linkedin)

6°) A more than questionable global ethic

7°) Add your own…

Many wrong reasons for not doing so

That said, if the ethics and practices of some platforms are nauseating, there is an excellent way to filter unwanted content and people:

1°) Adapt what you say to the network, to its DNA, to the audience that is there

2°) Adjust the “privacy” of your account and its contents

3°) Exclude/block problematic people

It’s up to us to do it or not. The platform is only an intermediary, it’s up to people to take responsibility for what they say and to monitor who they meet. And we have to keep in mind that, according to the traditional expression, if it’s free, it means that you are the product.

After that, there are still issues related to data and ethics in general, which alone justify slamming the door on certain social networks.

But, once again, if some do it, it remains a minority, like a drop in the ocean.

The digital Stockholm syndrome

While we are all one click away from saying goodbye to Facebook, Twitter or others, what keeps us from doing so despite our good intentions?

There is no mandatory reason for us to stay. I mean, there is no exit policy that obliges us to stay a member for x years or to leave only on a certain date after having informed us of our will a certain time before.

On the other hand, there are what I call utilitarian reasons. For example, to manage a Facebook page you need to have a personal account. Of course nobody forces you to use it but…

Leaving Linkedin while looking for a job? Not smart.

But what is holding everyone back then? I used to say that people were not addicted to social networks but…to people. And my opinion hasn’t changed even if any kind of angelism that we could have had 15 years ago has totally disappeared.

For many people:

1°) To leave Facebook is to lose contact with others because we have become accustomed to sharing what we want others to know, the habit of keeping ourselves informed individually has disappeared.

2°) There are people with whom we chat on Linkedin or messenger…without having their number to contact them directly if needed

3°) There is the famous “Fear of Missing Out

4°) But there is also the fear of disappearing from people’s radars.

Beyond the tools, social networks are people. Leaving the tools without having another place to find people is scary. We had a very good example with Whatsapp and the controversial evolution of its terms of use. Everyone (or almost everyone) created an account on Signal, and then. The trial was not transformed because the center of gravity of the exchanges remained on whatsapp. If several million highly connected users had said “I’m out” maybe something would have happened. But everyone wanted to keep a foot in Whatsapp just in case…and in the end nothing changed.

That’s why I don’t believe in a massive move away from, say, Facebook as a new MySpace. That would require:

1°) A comparable destination platform

2°) A massive and coordinated decision of the most connected users who will de facto force their contacts to follow them.

To kill a MySpace or a Friendster it was necessary to move a few million users at most. For Facebook it would take maybe a billion. More complicated.

In the end, when two people talk and ask each other “why are you still there”…the most honest answer would be… “because you are still there”. In this story the hostage taker is not Facebook or anyone else: it’s our friends and contacts.

Unless we realize that in our 450 friends only 10 count and that it is easy to keep in touch with them in other ways?

Image : Stockholm Syndrome de GoodIdeas via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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