Chris Martin works at Moody Publishers as a content marketing editor and a consultant in social media, marketing, and communications. He has a deep background in social media and digital content strategy. He perhaps best known for his blog, Terms of Service, where he writes thoughtfully and with great insight about topics as diverse as the metaverse, TikTok, Wordle, and the impact of social media on society and culture.
His new book is entitled, appropriately enough, Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media. The book is a primer on social media and the internet but is also more than that – a look at how the internet shapes us and what can we do about it. And his solutions are not “let’s pass a law” type of prescriptions, but instead what individuals can do themselves.
This is not a book that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok will like. But it’s an important book, one that is both deeply thought through and easy to read.
Martin starts at the beginning with how the internet evolved, how it works now, and how it affects our lives. He examines fives ways the social internet shapes us – the belief that attention assigns value, how we trade away our privacy, how affirmation becomes more important than truth, and how we demonize – and then destroy – people we dislike.
His recommendations for dealing with this are particularly helpful, because they are relatively simple things individuals can do. (They may not be easy, particularly if you’re a social media addict, but they are simple and straightforward.) This emphasis on individual actions is far more empowering than waiting for “Congress to pass a law.” As Martin points point, it’s inevitable that governments will start regulating the social internet, but that doesn’t mean we must or should wait. And what we can do as individuals starts with something many readers may find surprising – studying history.
Terms of Service is a highly readable and intelligent look at the social internet, how it shapes our lives, and what we can do to regain control.
Top photograph by Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash. Used with permission.