Katie Archibald column: One argument for not deleting your social media accounts right now

"I don’t like the idea of having pages on the internet in charge of painting me as a person. I don’t like the feeling I get while scrolling through Instagram when I realise my mind is completely empty."

Last month I read a book called Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Its author, Jaron Lanier, was on Channel 4 News a while back and it wasn’t that I found what he said particularly startling or interesting that persuaded me to buy the book; it was the title I found very promising.

A very ‘does what it says on the tin’ title. Because I already wanted (want) to delete my social media accounts, I just didn’t have the confidence or sound argument to do so.

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My true motivations are all vanity driven. I don’t like the idea of having pages on the internet in charge of painting me as a person. I don’t like the feeling I get while scrolling through Instagram when I realise my mind is completely empty.

That although engaged enough to not be doing anything else, I’m not actually thinking anything in response to what I’m seeing (usually I have 12 seconds of the same song looping in my mind).

I don’t like feeling I’ve got to check my notifications when I’ve posted something to see what the world of social media makes of it. I don’t like envying a stranger’s life.

Unfortunately, the grown-up protestations that I garnered from Lanier’s book, in order to have a sophisticated explanation for not having any online accounts, was largely centred around the acronym: BUMMER.

It’s to describe the algorithms used on sites like Facebook and stands for Behaviours of Users Modified and Made into an Empire for Rent. Accurate, but it takes the wind out my sails when I lose track of my argument and hear myself groaning about BUMMER algorithms and making little sense to anyone.

Not that I’ve deleted anything yet. These BUMMER discussions are all hypocritical, though, as I also have a contract this season that stipulates I have to keep active social media accounts (a big part of being a professional sportsperson in 2018).

This is a real comfort to me, of course, as I can simply blame The Man for making me nuts about how many likes a picture gets, instead of my own insecure self.

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.


An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).