Eaters Collective / Unsplash
Karen Belz
December 12, 2017 7:59 am

Do you remember what life was like back in 2004? It was a simpler time. While social networks like MySpace and Friendster existed, it was the first year for Facebook — the site that changed everything. But well over a decade later, a former Facebook executive is claiming that social media isn’t great for people. In his eyes, it complicates truth and popularity, and messes with humans’ natural desire for feedback. We can see where he’s coming from.

Chamath Palihapitiya talked to CNBC about social networks and how they’ve changed the way we interact with each other. “The tools that we have created today are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works,” he said on their morning news show Squawk Box. The subject was brought up since Palihapitiya recently spoke at Stanford Graduate School of Business and suggested that students take a “hard break” from their computers.

Palihapitiya joined Facebook in 2007, after starting his career with by heading AOL’s instant messaging division back in 2004. He became Facebook’s vice president of user growth, where he helped expand Facebook before leaving the company in 2011.

Still, just because he worked at Facebook doesn’t mean he’d let his children use the site. According to Palihapitiya, even he’s backed away from using it. “My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore,” Palihapitiya said in his Stanford speech. “I haven’t for years. It’s created huge tension with my friends…I guess I kind of innately didn’t want to get programmed.”

Interestingly enough, he also made a point to talk about what the dopamine of feedback does to a person — and really, it makes a lot of sense.

"That feedback, chemically speaking, is the release of dopamine in your brain," Palihapitiya continued on CNBC. "I think if you get to desensitized and you need it over and over and over again, then you become actually detached from the world in which you live."

He also mentioned how users can pay in order to “amplify whatever you believe and get people to believe what is popular is now truthful.” Really, it’s a tool that can easily be used to shape people, without them necessarily realizing it.

Still, Palihapitiya isn’t completely against sites like Facebook. He wanted to clarify to CNBC that his comments were meant to be observations, not attacks. But after listening to what he had to say, we can understand the benefits of stepping away from the screen. Perhaps we’ll be a bit happier if we did so once in a while.

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