Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya has vocally shared his strong views on the dangers of social media and the company he helped start and promote years ago – Facebook.

In a speech delivered at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Palihapitiya who was Facebook’s vice president for user growth in 2007, said he feels “tremendous guilt” for building a company and a tool that is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he said.

“You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed . . . but now you got to decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence,” he told the listening audience. Palihapitiya said he decided to leave the company because he didn’t want to be programmed himself, and that he “doesn’t use this shit” and his kids are not allowed to use “this shit” either.

Palihapitiya advised people to take a “hard break” from all social media platforms.

The former Facebook executive explained that social media takes advantages of weaknesses in human psychology. Social media’s short-term feedback loops are like a drug to users’ brains – something similar to the drugs that we use in medicine and for treating debilitating diseases in people. The short bursts of likes, shares and comments we get in Facebook and other social media drive short bursts of satisfaction and importance – but after the effects have worn off, we feel empty and sometimes, useless as when we started craving for it.

Social media is a breeding ground for narcissistic behavior, as Palihapitiya said. Indeed, we crave for likes for our selfies and when we do get them, we feel like we need to get more. So we do sometimes the most ridiculous and out-of-the-way stunts to get those likes from people. This can be dangerous like the Youtube stunt done by a couple quite recently wherein the woman fired a gun at her partner’s chest with only an encyclopedia as a shield.

Instead of enjoying long talks around a table with family or sitting around a campfire with friends, we tend to chat with them behind an avatar made as a screen in real time. Although I myself do enjoy these chats with long-lost friends or friends that live in various places and are far from me, I still would like to see and interact with my friends up-close and personal and sharing a cup of tea or cake with me or dinner!

Palihapitiya joins a growing bunch of former Facebook employees who admit and report about the corporation’s deceptive ways to lure people into its site – and who do not use the site anymore. Former Facebook product manager Antonio Garcia-Martinez admitted that Facebook does lie about its ability to influence and manipulate its users based on data they collect about them. Facebook investor Sean Parker now is against all social media like Facebook because he asserts that they “exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology”.

I personally believe Facebook has its pros and cons. Since we do reach out to a lot of people through Facebook, I do believe that it can help people like ourselves reach a wider audience with our messages of using Natural Medicine. That is one big advantage when using Facebook or social media.

But like any other thing that you use too often, social media also has its drawbacks – that of alienating and getting “stuck” on it. We still need to communicate face-to-face with people because there is no replacement for a personal touch and being there for someone. That is something that Facebook cannot replace.

I challenge most of my readers to take a break from Facebook or any other social media sometimes to see what you’re not missing. Don’t’ let social media run your life; you are worth more than that.

How about you – what is your opinion about social media? Let us know in the comments below!

Image by TechCrunch / CC BY 2.0