Is it all about envy? – trying to flash out "the main beef", the root cause of issues that people have with Social Media

“The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life” the book by Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson provides various proves and examples, that people often do not understand the true motives of their behaviors and feelings. It also makes a point that, the understanding of these true motives is very important for the effective design of institution, policies [and products].

In order to create humane products, their designers should understand people’s true motives and root causes of the issues of “inhumane” products.

It is possible, that “the real beef” (the root cause of various issues) that people have with social networking services is heighten feeling of envy, not the issues with loss of privacy, attention depletion.

People, are very bad at conscious understanding of the feeling of envy. Often people feel anger, frustration, irritation, etc, without understanding that these feelings are actually caused by envy.

In the case of social networking services, it might be, that people blame social media in all the sins, when in actuality the main issue that they have with social networks is heighten feeling of envy, that translates into depression, frustration, anxiety.

If this is true (and there are scientific evidences for this), it opens very important discussion whether social media can be fixed by better privacy and notifications controls or it cannot be fixed due to its very nature of providing stage for “showing off”, thus activating envy and triggering “envy spirals” (where people react to envy by adding to their profiles more of the same sort of content that made them jealous in the first place).

I think this is the real true issue with social networking services. Probably, increased feeling of envy was not pinned down earlier, as the main culprit of social media issues, because of its elusive and sensitive psychological nature and also because it looks like there is not much that can be done with it.

Actually, there is something that can be done to dampen down envy spirals. They can be dampen down by using compartmentalized social profiles. These are the profiles, that can be divided into (made from) different compartments. Such profiles enable people to show different facets of their personality, thus enable possibility for asymmetric responses in social competition.

Also, such profiles enables, more natural following model - inverted compartmentalized following.

Compartmentalized social profiles and inverted compartmentalized following are implemented on Validbook Social.

You can check it on the example of main test user on alpha version of Validbook Social* - (as Validbook is built on Self-Sovereign Identity idea, you will need a cryptographic key to login. To login as a main test user - download and use the following key Password to keystore file - “123456789”. After login go manually to the home page. Use Chrome browser. In production version the process of login will be seamless, as we will use browser extension to store key.)

*Note, this is alpha version so half of the things does not work and another half works half of the time.

**If you interested to know more about Validbook:

envy spirals are new to me.

Heighten feeling of envy (usually processed as anger, frustration, sadness, depression, anxiety) is “the real beef” that people have with social networks (why they complain about them so much). There is science to support it - and if you think about it is also intuitively understandable.

The problem is that within space of Social Networks built on attention based business model there is no much escape from envy spirals. Attention based business model necessitates designers of Social Networking Services to drive engagement and there is no much better way to do it then by enticing social competition, envy spirals.

As I wrote yesterday on Twitter, new generation applications built on new business models can afford to offer functionality that is less engaging, less addictive, but more humane, more satisfying in a long term.

For example, Validbook Social service can afford to have compartmentalized social profiles, that are not so engaging as monolith Facebook social profiles. Compartmentalized social profiles are not streamlined to trigger envy spirals. They are streamlined to enable comprehensive representation of human personality and interests.

Validbook Social service also has compartmentalized inverted following model, that mimics real life relations by enabling mutual following of different sides and layers of each other personalities.

Facebook simply cannot afford this functionality (compartmentalized social profiles and compartmentalized inverted following model) as it will lower engagement >> lower revenues.

1 Like

The envy angle seems highly personalized to me. Some people are far more susceptible than others. I know people who are perfectly happy driving around a 20-year-old clunker of a car and others who cannot be seen in public without a ride that makes a statement that they have arrived and are modernized.

Social media use kind of amplifies those pre-existing tendencies. Except in today’s culture there may be more envy over perceived experiences instead of possessions as the cultural capital of choice.

The envy angle seems highly personalized to me…

Actually, envy is a very common phenomenon, that has broad and important effects on society and individuals.

Here is a great quote from the review of a book by Helmut Schoeck -“Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior”:

"“a proper appraisal of man’s potential for envy, a realization of its universality and persistence" [p.7] is essential for social understanding and economic prescriptions. Any discussion of man, society, history or policies based on the assumption that man is not envious is bound to be misleading and counterproductive. It would be like building a city assuming that people do not produce wastes.

or as put by Warren Buffett, – “It’s not greed that drives the world, but envy”.

Envy is often overlooked because of its sensitive and elusive nature. It is badly processed by people on conscious level. Its effects on how society works are not well researched and what is researched is not well known.

People are rarely willing to admit to the feelings of envy, even to themselves. On a personal level, envy is often interpreted by ourselves as anger, exhaustion, frustration, irritation. Probably, because admitting to envy carries social stigma, makes a person who admits to it, not only “a bad person”, but also puts him into inferior position to the envied person.

In a study Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction? out of 584 people only 4 (1.2%) admitted that Facebook made them envious. When the same people were asked “Why other people are frustrated after using Facebook?” 29.6% of them said because of the envy.

Importance of envy in society workings is badly understood as well.

From the review of “Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior” by Helmut Schoeck:
Unfortunately, argues Schoeck, modern scholars have not met homo invidious face-to-face because "Almost without exception all research concerning man, when has faced by envy, seen it as a serious disease … but never as a normal case of human behavior and endeavor”".
This book was written in 1966, but it still holds true.

Here are the reasons why, in my opinion, envy is so complex to explore and understand:

  • people unwillingness to admit to it, as well as simple unawareness of it (confusion of it with anger, frustration, irritation)
  • people have different propensity to envy
  • people have different relative position in social comparison (relative position in a referenced community by a attribute compared; in other words comparison upward or downward)
  • people have ability to shift focus to different attributes for social comparison (in other words it is not only about possession over things, it is also about - attractiveness, age, career, education, social status, social popularity, moral standing, etc)
  • different types of envy: benign/prosocial envy (useful for “envier” and/or envied person) and malicious/dangerous envy (harmful for “envier” and/or envied person).

Current Social Networking Services fueled by attention based business model tap into envy as the most powerful tool to drive engagement. They do not try to dampen down envious feelings (for example by providing ability for asymmetric social competition), quite contrary they entice envy spirals (consuming content that makes you envious >> posting the same type of content that made you envious in the first place).

I think most of the issues, that people complain about when using Facebook are either badly interpreted envy, caused by envy or caused by Facebook trying to entice envy spirals. Here is more of my thought on negative issues (psychological, cognitive and democracy related) and their origin caused by the current Social Networking Services.

As for depression in particular this study proves that Facebook depression is explained by envy - “However, when Facebook envy is controlled for, Facebook use actually lessens depression.”

In the light of all the above, the most important questions become:

  • Is envy caused by Social Media only bad or it serves good purpose also?
    Of course, it is not all bad. There are a lot of good, prosocial envy. For example, fitness effects caused by Instagram. Nonetheless, I think in a pursuit for the highest engagement possible current social media gone too far in creating environment for envy spirals and limited opportunity for asymmetric social competition, thus restricted ability to transform antisocial envy into prosocial envy.

  • Are excessive levels of antisocial envy inevitable on Social Media due to the very nature of Social Media to provide stage for showing off or antisocial envy on Social Media can be lowered or transformed into prosocial envy?

I think it is quite possible to lower antisocial envy by transforming it into prosocial envy, and by doing this making social networks more humane and welcoming place. This is possible provided we had Social Networking Services that have business model not based on maximum engagement of it users (not incentivized to entice envy, envy spirals).

For example, Validbook Social (a Social Networking Service that is build on business model not based on the maximum engagement of its users) allows its users to compartmentalize their social profiles, although these profiles are not as engaging as monolith Facebook social profiles. Compartmentalized social profiles are not streamlined to trigger envy spirals. They are streamlined to enable comprehensive representation of human personality and interests.

Validbook Social service also has compartmentalized inverted following model, that mimics real life relations by enabling mutual following of different sides and layers of each other personalities.

Facebook cannot afford this functionality (compartmentalized social profiles and compartmentalized inverted following model) as it is not as engaging (not as envy inducing) as monolith profiles and simple following. Thus would hurt Facebook revenue.

1 Like

My point was is that while I agree it’s a major factor, I wouldn’t go all-in on it. People get very different things out of social media. Some are the kind that merely like to post helpful information and not much else. And there are some who really don’t care about likes. I don’t see those people driven by an envy engine, but yet they can also be some of the heavier users.

Hence while it’s a real part of the system, I think it is incomplete and insufficient to describe the system.

@greg thanks for the comments.

I am trying to flash out “the real beef”, the root cause of the issues that people have with Social Networking Services. So that we can know what needs to be fixed in order to build better Social Media.

My analysis says that the root cause of the issues that people have with Social Media is heighten social competition/comparison, that leads to heighten levels of envy, which manifest itself in the feelings of frustration, anxiety, irritation, anger, depression etc.

As I described above, not all envy is bad. Actually, a lot of envy is good.
More often than we think, envy is a prosocial emotion that makes individuals better and most importantly helps society work.

Also, important to understand, that by definition Social Media is a tool to provide one-to-many communication, which naturally becomes a stage to “show off”. Which inevitably leads to more social comparison, hence heighten feelings of envy. This is something that cannot be fixed, whether we like it or not.


The problem with current Social Media (built on advertising business model), is that they in the pursuit of maximum engagement, limit users’ ability for asymmetric social competition. Instead of creating tools to allow its users to give asymmetric replies to the cues of social competition, they limit this functionality. They try to narrow discussions that happen on their platform to what is the most engaging (most profitable for them). They do not allow to have broad comprehensive social profiles with compartments that would enable broad discussions because it would be less engaging (less profitable for them).

This leads to narrow and shallow social profiles, and narrow and shallow discussions, which in turn leads to heighten levels of antisocial envy, that cannot be channeled into prosocial envy. Altogether, this is detrimental to individuals and to society at large.

This is the main beef with the current Social Media and it can be fixed! This is why Validbook Social service was created.

I think I have to agree with @greg that there are many motives for using social media—and, I would add, many rewards.

In my experience, the main motivator is the desire for connection. Rewards include sharing knowledge—the main driver of the chickens group I belonged to (yes, true :slight_smile: )—bonding through similar experiences, and cultivation of empathy.

Your Validbook project sounds interesting, and I’ve tried to look at it but found it daunting. Is there a simulation that non-technical folks can view?

@patm, @greg guys in this topic I am not talking about all the reasons why people use Social Media.

What I am trying to do, is to understand why people complain about Social Media so much.
What is the real reason behind all the complaints about Social Media? Why people hate it more than anything else on the Internet? Is it really about privacy? Is it about too much notifications? Is it about too intrusive advertising?

I think no.

I think “the real beef” that people have with Social Media is the increased social comparison. It leads to heighten feelings of envy, that is usually felt by people as feelings of frustration, irritation, sadness, anxiety. That’s why people complaint about Social Media so much.

Now, is there anything that can be done with it or it is the inevitable consequence of Social Media?

I think, there is something that can be done with it. I think that current, fueled by advertising Social Media entice social competition and envy spirals. When we understand how they do it we can design better Social Networking Services. For example, as I described above in Validbook Social service we use comparmentalized social profiles that allows for assymetric replies to cues of social competition.

Facebook uses monolithic profiles (‘narrow and shallow’ profiles) that are streamlined to entce envy spirals. Validbook Social comparmentalized profiles streamlined to present personalitites in a comprehensive way. They are less engaing, but more humane.

@patm you can check Validbook alpha version here - From there you can go to Validbook Social service.
Note, this is not a production version, so half of the features does not work and another half works half of the time.

(As Validbook is built on Self-Sovereign Identity idea, you will need a cryptographic key for login. To login as a main test “Jimbo Fry” user - download and use the following keystore file Password to keystore file - “123456789”. After login go manually to the home page. Use Chrome browser. In production version the process of login will be seamless, as we will use browser extension to store key.)

@patm I understand Validbook looks daunting now, but this is because it is at the very early, gestation stage. Give it a try and let me know what you think about it and more importantly about its idea. Here is a long discussion about Validbook idea with @Free - The nature of issues: Human Nature vs. Attention Based Business Model?

1 Like

Many thanks, @drabiv, and my apologies for misunderstanding. Though words are my livelihood, I sometimes misread or fail to comprehend fully.

I clicked on the futurama link and liked what I saw. Also, I have read some of the discussion between you and @free and appreciate your invitation to forum members to vet your project proposal.

Perhaps people complain about social media so much because of the love-hate relationship they have with it—much as they would about a problem-ridden relationship with a mate or child. Maybe they would complain less if they actually acted.

It was not envy that made me close my Facebook account. It was the feeling of being entombed in FB’s business model and not having enough space to be a living, thinking, breathing creature.

The host-parasite relationship is unhealthy, but FB and other such applications condition you to accept it as a natural and inevitable aspect of living today.

It was not envy that made me close my Facebook account…

Just to be clear, I am not saying that someone personally or members of this forum or myself do not like current Social Media because of increased envious feelings.

I am trying to do an honest analysis of the root cause of issues with Social Media.

Because Social Networking Services are so closely intertwined with psychology (our identities, communities) this analysis is very sensitive.

In order to make this analysis unbiased and truthful it should not be done with reference to personal examples.
It is better to be done on example of people in general.

The same as with doctors that discuss sensitive issues, such analysis should not be regarded as revealing of personal issues or as projections of personal issues.

Many thanks, @drabiv. I see the wisdom of your approach.

BTW, I think your idea of compartmentalized profiles is a good one. Can you explain, though, what you mean by “assymetric replies to cues of social competition”?

Let’s not forget that social media is full with marketing messages and brands posting “articles” which are actually ads in disguise. Some people spend all day interacting with brands – in a sense looking at an endless stream of stealth advertisements.

I also find the idea of people looking at photos and little texts for hours a week extremely strange. I think photos people post of themselves and what they’re doing are super weird. In the earlier days of mobile social media I was actually the top user (most popular, most posts) of a new photo sharing social networking app, but those days were different as back then it was more of a social experiment as it was new and the users were all early adopters. The strange thing is that many more people now are viewing these stupid and weird streams of photos – something I just considered a temporary activity experiment for myself which lasted a few weeks, they now do every day of the year endlessly.

1 Like

what you mean by “asymmetric replies to cues of social competition”?

Good question, @patm ! It is quite complex to answer properly, as it requires to explain sensitive and not obvious characteristics and effects of envy, show ubiquitous nature of envy, show that envy can be transformed from antisocial to prosocial envy, show how envy is abused by Social Media by enticing envy spirals via limiting ability for asymmetric replies, show consequences of this abuse on individual and society, show how Humane Design can be used to fix envy related issues on Social Media via supporting ability for asymmetric replies.

Below I try to briefly explain all of this, then maybe we can go into particular aspects more deeply.

Asymmetric replies to the cues of social competition are the replies that are not in the same comparison area.
When people are exposed to the cues of social comparison, their ability to compete asymmetrically should be supported and enabled. This is important as it enables transformation of antisocial, unproductive envy to prosocial, productive envy. Ability for asymmetric replies allows people to shift attention to different areas of comparison. It is beneficial on individual and society levels.
Current Social Media limits ability of people for asymmetric replies to cues of social comparison as it is not conducive to their main goal - maximization of user engagement. Most of the current Social Networking Services allow people to create Monolithic Social Profiles only. These profiles, limits discussion that people can have on Social Media Service, hence limits ability for asymmetrical replies to cues of social comparison. Limited ability for asymmetrical replies is detrimental for wellbeing for may people. It also negatively impacts values and main discussions that preoccupy society’s attention.

Specifics and illustrations
There are different areas and cues of social comparison: “physical attractiveness” – selfies, body shots; “social attractiveness” – group photos of activities with friends & family; “material/financial security attractiveness” – consumption of status goods (including experiences); “intelligence/moral attractiveness” – intelligence and character signaling posts; “Other/professional/usefulness attractiveness” – interests, humor related posts.
I will leave outside of this analysis the discussion about to what extent posts made on social media should be regarded as pure communication (exchange of information) only, versus social competition (cues for comparison). It can be argued by some that posts on social media is only about communication and people should not compare themselves to others. Is it so, or not, and to what extent, is a separate discussion.

Here I take it as evident, that consciously or unconsciously social comparison happens.
When people are exposed to cues for social comparison (especially from their immediate community) it leads to the feelings of envy, that contrary to common understanding can be useful-prosocial or malevolent-antisocial. Prosocial envy is when envier tries to emulate envied person, “become better”. Prosocial envy is good for envier and it is not dangerous for envied person. Antisocial envy happens when envier cannot or does not want to emulate envied person. Antisocial envy is detrimental to the wellbeing of the envier and may be dangerous to envied person as envier may try to “bring down” (troll, bully, etc.) the envied person.

Now, people are not equal in all areas of social comparison, also, people have different privacy preferences in regards to different areas. These facts, lead to inability of many people to answer to cues of social comparison symmetrically (in the same area of social comparison). Cues of social comparison that are left unanswered can lead to pent-up antisocial envy.

The key point of this discussion is that in order to resolve envy (transform it from antisocial to prosocial form) replies to cues of social comparison are not necessary to be symmetrical. Asymmetric replies are just as good or even better as symmetric replies.
Asymmetric replies to cues of social competition provides ability for people to transform antisocial envy into prosocial envy. This is especially important when people cannot or does not want to reply to the cues of social comparison in symmetrical way. It allows people to shift their attention and “become better” in other areas of social comparison.
It also allows society to focus social competition on the areas that are deemed the most beneficial for society.

Current Social Media
Current Social media built on the advertising business model is incetivized to get as much engagement from its users as possible. Ability for asymmetric replies is not conducive for the highest engagement. Quite contrary, it lowers engagement as everyone can post in their favorite area, which is not conducive to intensive discussions and envy spirals. That is why current social media limits ability of its users for asymmetric replies, by using Monolithic Social Profiles. Forcing its users to be limited to the main prevailing area of discussion per one Social Media Service. Monolithic Social Profiles are conducive to the creation of envy spirals. It also leads to the situation when majority of users passively watch posting activity of small minority.
Also, current Social Media use algorithms to keep people on one topic (that is the most important to particular Social Media service).

Current Social Media limiting impact on people’s ability to provide asymmetric replies, leads to the problems on individual level as well as on society level.
On individual level.
Limited ability for asymmetrical response leads to pent up antisocial envy, as not all can or want to reply symmetrically to the cues of social comparison. This antisocial envy is detrimental for wellbeing of the envier, and can also be detrimental to the envied person because of trolling, bullying etc from the envier.
On societal level, current Social Media practices lead to narrow and shallow discussions. Limits the ability of society to shift focus of social competition to the areas that are the most beneficial for the society.
In other words, it is not necessarily bad that current Social Media draws more attention to physical and social attractiveness (especially, if it activates prosocial envy, “activities to become better” (more fitness, better diet, etc) in this areas). What is bad is that ability shift focus, to have other discussions is now limited. A lot of portions of society are excluded, disengaged from discussions on Social Media.

Social Media based on Humane Design should be built in a such way that everyone can participate. It should be inclusive for all. It should be open to any area of discussion (inevitably social comparison) so that anyone can find area where they can post something and feel good about it.

Monolithic vs Compartmentalized Social Profiles
Monolithic Social Profiles are profiles that cannot be divided to different compartments to demonstrate different interests or sides of user’s personality, life.
Compartmentalized Social Profiles are such profiles that can be divided into different compartments to be used for presentation of different interests or sides of user’s personality, life.
Besides providing different views on different facets of personality, compartmentalization also enables layered privacy, and Compartmentalized Inverted Following that mimics real world relations.

Compartmentalized Inverted Following is ability for users to create different compartments for different sides of their personality and provide access for their followers to these compartments as they become closer, mutually exposed, mutually interested. It is similar to real world relations.

What does it mean in practice
Compartmentalized Social Profiles is what you get when you add Pinterest to Facebook, or Pinterest to Instagram, or Pinterest to Twitter. Google+ has tried to do this, but it confused its users due to bad implementation of Circles (privacy tools). Later they tried to fixed it by removing Circles, but at the end they recreated Pinterest (too much of Pinterest and too little of Facebook). It should have been vice versa - mostly Facebook + a bit of Pinterest.

Validbook Social Service - practical implementation
Validbook Social service is attempt to do this - to create Social Networking Service with humane, inclusive UX design. See social profile of our main test user -

Idea of Validbook Social UX design in one formula:

Validbook Social = (Facebook + Pinterest)*(Comparmentalized Inverted Following Model)

On individual level Validbook Social allows everyone to be active, in their preferred area of discussion (inevitably social comparison), as per their age, personality, privacy preferences etc.
On community/society level it allows to shift focus of discussions to discussions that can be deemed most important by particular community/society.

Very interesting thread!

While I might use different terms to how this has been discussed above, do think that you are very much on the money here.

In fact, there is a particularly relevant theory here which is not only useful in understanding social media attitudes and behaviour as has been already laid out in the thread above, but also - here’s the interesting bit - in understanding the history of how social media developed into what it is today.

I don’t see any mention of the work of Réne Girard in this thread, are any of you familiar with his work? The most relevant concept here is the mimetic theory of desire

Essentially, through a historical analysis of various ancient religious rituals, Girard argues that, fundamentally people don’t know what we want. So when we see someone else want something, that piece of information encourages us to want that thing too. Hence, mimesis - we mime each other.

Now obviously this leads to competition, which is where most of a society’s violence stems from. Girard reckons that for a society to survive, it has to find a way of putting this competition on ice, so to speak. One solution to stop people fighting over resources is to create a scapegoat, who then takes the blame for everything. (There’s lots more to it than this, but that’s the general gist).

Girard is a reasonably obscure French critical theorist, so - unless you know this story already - it will blow your mind to find out who is one of his most ardent students. Well, it’s only Peter Thiel. In fact, it was Thiel’s study of Girard which led him to be Facebook’s earliest outside investor. Apparently Thiel believed that if Facebook could harness mimesis - i.e. show people what everyone else desired - then it would be successful.

Hence, Girard has been called the ‘godfather of the Like button’ - because this is what it essentially does: shows you what other people desire. And the algorithms that structure social media basically run on mimetic principles too: showing you more of what other people ‘like’.

So envy, I guess, is at the heart of social media, in a way - perhaps because it is already at the heart of organised society. What Facebook and other social media platforms do is to make it more visible and monetise the traffic.

The first person I read who put all of this together is Geoff Shullenberger. You can read his work in more detail here, which I say is highly recommended if you really want to understand what is going on today re envy, Facebook and also Trump:

hope this makes sense, happy to elaborate more!


Thought this was fascinating, @cjamcmahon .

A few responses to your comments here and about “addiction”:

  1. One author I was reading pointed out that recent ads featured an actress lookalike. The idea was that because this actress had been in a popular movie, ads featuring her lookalike would get more attention by casual readers. Creators of the ads thus seemed to be implementing some form of mimesis.
  2. Oliver Sachs in his book Hallucinations talks about the error made by many people of attributing “hearing voices” to schizophrenia. He says that early describers of the illness were careful to attribute multiple symptoms to it, but later on, this one factor came to dominate diagnoses. Thus many non-schizophrenic people were misdiagnosed. I wonder if we have made the same mistake with what is commonly called “addiction” to smartphones and other devices. I sometimes think that “addiction” is a simple term for a host of things, e.g., inability to form healthy habits, mimicking others’ behaviors in order to fit in, acceptance of an imprecise but culturally popular notion, etc.

@cjamcmahon thanks for reply. It is flattering that professional psychologist agrees with the gist of the arguments.

Regarding, mimetic theory of desire and scapegoating mechanism. I think these concepts are 2nd order explanations. The effects of social media is better explained by simpler concepts/explanations - social comparison, symmetric/asymmetric replies to cues of social comparison, effects of upward/downward socail comparison.

From theoritical perspective I lean on evolutionary explanation of cooperative human emotions -

If we use simpler (first order concepts) then “mimetic theory of desire” becomes symmetric replies to cues of social comparison.
The usage of the concept symmetric/asymmetric is important as it allows us to see that people can have asymmetric replies that are just as good (or almost as good) as symmetric replies in regards to psychological wellbeing of the individual, in regards to societal discussions asymmetric replies are more beneficial then symmetric.

The “scapegoat mechanism” can be explained in terms of antisocial/malignant envy and/or downward social comparison, combination of which leads to bullying (violence in digital world).

Summary of this topic

  • The main negative issue of the current Social Media is increased social comparison, increased envy. It has negative impact on individual and society.
  • The main driver for increased social comparison are Monolithic Social Profiles, that limit ability to asymmetric replies to cues of social comparison.
  • Social Media based on advertising business model cannot afford to refuse to use Monolithic Social Profiles in a competitive market.
  • Monolithic Social Profiles are especially harmful when used to represent Base/Main Digital Identity (currently Facebook).
  • Social Media platform that is used to create and maintain Base Digital Identity (currently Facebook) should allow people to use Compartmentalized Social Profiles for this or be replaced with new generation Social Media built on not advertising based business model.

Causal pathway

Social Media built on Advertising Business Model >> Incentives to engage user as much as possible >> Encouraging social comparison >> Encouraging envy spirals >> Limiting ability for asymmetric replies to cues of social comparison >> Monolithic Social Profiles >> Negative impact on individual and society.

Impact of monolithic profiles:

  • Individual level
    – Increased antisocial envy, that harms wellbeing of enviers and envied.
    – Narrow and shallow representation of human personality

  • Societal level
    – Narrow and shallow discussions, understanding of human personality
    – Too much focus on “shallow things”; inability for society to shift focus to more “important things”.

Base Digital Identity
Base Digital Identity is the main representation of human individual. It is by people to find each other, present themselves and “understand” each other. People cannot refuse to have Base Digital Identity.

Currently, Facebook acts as a provider of Base Digital Identity. This makes it impossible for people to refuse to use Facebook. From another side Facebook is a for-profit, advertising driven Social Media which means that it is incentivised to use Monolithic Social Profiles, that lead to negative issues as described above.

It is OK to use Monolithic Social Profiles in commercial, fit-for-purpose Social Media. For example, it is ok to use Monolithic Social Profiles for Instagram, as this is for profit platform mainly exploiting social competition in the area of physical attractiveness and social popularity. It is not OK to use Monolithic Social Profiles for representation on Base Digital Identity.

What can be done?

Build new Social Networking Service, that will allow people to create Compartmentalized Social Profiles to represent their Base Digital Identity. To be able to do this, the new Social Networking Service will have to be built on new business model, that does not rely on high engagement of its users.

Validbook Social
Validbook Social is a practical implementation of the above understanding of increased Social Comparison as the main problem of the current Social Media, caused by advertising based business model and its subsequent consequences (see causal pathway).

More about Validbook and Validbook Social:

Original publication and “Proposal To Cooperate on the development of Validbook”:
Short descriptions: and
Cons and Pros of Validbook: The nature of issues: Human Nature vs. Attention Based Business Model? (long better read from the bottom)

IF you keep digging, you’ll find the roots of competition in education, early education. in the very process of education where there is a teacher and the taught, a master and a dis·ci·ple(a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.). Or Mohammed… or The Buddha… Any prophet(teacher) that can only exist in relationship to those who follow. Yes, the conditioning is that deep, thousands of years old. As old as the hills. It’s a DEEP groove of the human mind kept alive by ideals of family, country, community, tradition. You may even trace it back to the the Sufies who started teaching the art of rhetoric to the romans in exchange for currency(gold?) which they would use to purchase food to survive starvation. Hunger is a fantastic motivator! it will alter and rewire/sharpen the cognitive instrument faster any other gridnstone.

Eventually, you’ll come upon the “word,” which is the materialization of though. And you may wonder whether thought itsels is the the root.

Many thinkers and philosophers have given theirs lives to understanding this, and in that understanding they have seen that the word itself perpetuates the problem. So they have gone silent, allowing learning to flow its natural course, at its appropriate pace.

No matter what you discover, it is going to point to the young, who germinate and sprout in the soil fertilized by us, the old. those who came before. Our job is to make sure that the new sprouts have all they need for maximum VITALITIY. Goodness, in whatever they do, is for them to explore and discover.