Social Media Need Not Rule

by Conor Friedersdorf

Reihan is excited about a new entrepreneurial venture:

Weeks ago, Business Insider profiled a few of the Chicago-based start-ups that angel investors Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky, best known for backing Groupon, are funding, including an intriguing stealth concept: a company that leverages "the power of the social graph" to build more reliable and more meaningful credit scores. This is exactly the kind of idea that drives my left-of-center friends up the wall, and I love it. It is a sociological truism (or is it a lazy assumption?) that we are like our friends, hence childbirth and obesity are "contagious." Something similar presumably applies to our financial proclivities.

The difficulty lies in identifying our true social graph. When money is at stake, it becomes important to weight different relationships appropriately. And of course money being at stake will incline us to "curate" our social graph, to make it less like our real social relationships and more like an idealized version of the same -- or rather a version designed to maximize our credit score, or whatever other metric we're looking to game. 

Regardless, we have to start somewhere.

Ah, but we don't have to start somewhere! We could decide that the commodification of our friendships is creepy and ridicule it, or boycott any product that inclines us to "curate" our social graph, having concluded that the incentives at work are perverse.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

Just In