Unfriend the social media monsters for two reasons – them and us

As for them:

Twitter and Facebook candidly play political favorites. They censor ideas and content on the right while permitting countervailing ideas and thought on the left

Events of last week compared to events of last summer drive this home. Social media has been clamping down on complaints about a stolen election, to the point now that Facebook says it will censor all references to “Stop the Steal.”

Meanwhile, Twitter has altogether banned the President of the United States from its platform.  Their justification for this is that his tweets threaten our country.

In contrast, neither Twitter nor Facebook banned Antifa or Black Lives Matter last summer when they were actively advocating the overthrow of the government. They chanted “No USA at all” and “Burn it Down” as they attempted to do precisely that. They failed, so far, but they did kill and maim a number of people and destroy billions of dollars in property.

I personally condemned the violence in DC last week and also the violence in Portland, Seattle and elsewhere last summer. But since when does a private company such as Facebook or Twitter have the right to control what people merely say? Who made them the arbiter of the First Amendment?

I realize of course that the First Amendment does not usually apply to non-governmental action. But social media today functions more like a public utility such as the telephone or electric company. We would never tolerate the electric company telling us what pixels we can create using the electricity we buy from them, or the telephone company telling us what we can say over the phone.

Notably, this social media censorship of Trump has been condemned by the governments of France, Germany, the UK and the EU, where they’re not Trump fans and usually not as protective of free speech as in America.

The social media and other tech companies tend to act suspiciously in concert. A little social media startup called Parler began offering a censor-free alternative to Twitter recently. But then Amazon shut off their lights with the flick of a switch by terminating their cloud storage. About the same time, Apple took their app out of Apple Apps and Google took them out of Google Play. Without cloud storage and without user apps, no such company can last a day. 

These big social companies are evil. Dictating what people can say is undemocratic, censorious, arrogant and autocratic. It’s stunning that they do so not with compunction, but delight.

Meanwhile, they’re collecting quite a file of information on you and me. They know what we like, what we see, what we read, who our friends are, what we buy, what we do in our free time, and whom we plan to vote for. They even know all about our children and pets.

As for us:

Social media brings out the worst in us. Without face-to-face discourse, people feel invincible. Cloaked in anonymity, they say things they would never say in person. It’s like the difference between someone who cuts you off on the sidewalk and someone who cuts you off in traffic. The first encounter will probably produce an “excuse me” from both parties while the second encounter will probably produce horn-honking and bird-flipping.

People on Facebook routinely name-call, curse and insult one another. There’s little real discussion. It’s just a cafeteria food fight. People who are mostly normal in other settings exhibit the emotions of toddlers coupled with the profanity of sailors.

That may be unfair to both toddlers and sailors. Many Facebookers seem to actually enjoy dropping into a thread with their flamethrowers blazing. They remind me of drivers with lives so little that they go out looking for excuses to honk their horns at other drivers they imagine have committed some traffic infraction.

For that, we can’t blame the platform. It’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault that we as his content creators create content that would be considered vile if only it weren’t so juvenile. No, the fault is ours.

This is destroying our culture. It’s coarse, divisive, degrading and injurious. I’ve personally unfriended hundreds of Facebook “friends” over the last week who seem to think the way to rebut my position that the DC riots were wrong is to type in upper case letters things like, “YOU JUST WANT TO S*** JOE BIDEN’S C*** !!!!” (For the record, that thought which was apparently uppermost in the mind of the person who left the comment, had actually not occurred to me.)

We’re better than this. Let’s get off Facebook and Twitter, get a life and reclaim our culture and civilization. And let the authoritarian, censorious, data-collecting, Peeping Tom billionaires find another line of work.

Post Script: This is my last column that I’ll post on Facebook. If you or your friends want to read my stuff in the future, you’ll need to subscribe to my column by sending an email to theAspenbeat@gmail.com or accidentally run across my stuff on various sites that often link to it.

Subscribing is more certain, and it’s free. In addition, you can always correspond with me at theAspenbeat@gmail.com. I reply to most emails.

21 thoughts on “Unfriend the social media monsters for two reasons – them and us

  1. Yeah it’s sad. I don’t entirely agree with your take on the DC stuff, but as Patrick Henry said I will defend your right to say it to the death. And all of this is better done face to face. I suppose many believe that is too much of a risk because of COVID, but that’s a whole separate conundrum.

  2. The downside is you won’t have as wide a reach. Perhaps I am a Pollyanna, but I like to think that some of your casual readers might be educated when they come across your columns.

  3. I will miss you on FB, and agree with Bob Shapiro that casual readers can learn something from you. I agree completely with condemning violence and have unsubscribed from any publication that suggests it.

  4. The only way to approaching the unfriending that sewer I like to call anti-social media, is to go cold turkey. I don’t see the point of casual readers on ASM. I’m on your email list. Looking forward to getting your posts.

  5. I was subscribed, but I have not gotten an email in a while. I don’t think you unfriended me. If you did, I didn’t see it.

  6. All “social media” sites are designed to enforce intellectual conformity (i.e., groupthink) among users. These sites are microcosms of the world we inhabited in junior and senior high school.
    where rigid behavioral norms were/are enforced with social ostracism. To expand the analogy, compare the “social media” environment with other social in-groupings; the Amish, Mormons, Jews, Catholics, Moslems, etc. Each group enforces its norms on members by application of threats of or actual expulsion, denominated as “”anathematization,” “shunning,” banning,” or occasionally in a more drastic way, by actual physical harm or death. More benignly, Rotarians, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc. all have rules of behavior which are similarly enforced by expulsion from the membership upon transgression. Fortunately, exiting a “social media” site (or not joining in the first place) carries with it little in the way of sanction, unlike the groups initially mentioned, but as time has passed, the sanctions imposed or encouraged by these sites has become more and more draconian. Witness the economic sanctions imposed by banks, lenders, businesses on those who have been deemed to transgress the rules of behavior. One sees the out-working of this mechanism most radically in the Chinese “social credit system, which, once fully implemented, will manage the rewards, or punishments, of citizens on the basis of their economic and personal behavior. (A reference to Revelation’s Mark of the Beast is not unwarranted here.) Secondarily, those who currently control the biggest “social media” sites use them to surreptitiously gather user information and sell it to third parties, both private and public. Remember, if it’s “free,” YOU are the product. I do not, and have never been a member of any such site. (If I want to communicate with friends or family, or share pictures of my grandkids, there are other ways to do so.) Whether we progress toward the Orwellian Chinese social credit system or not will be determined by the number of individuals participating in the system. Fortunately, there is still time to withdraw without much in the way of punishment, but I fear the time for doing so is drawing to a close. One may scoff at the Biblical idea of a “Beast system,” wherein nothing can be bought or sold unless one “takes the mark,” but the basis of that system is being implemented right now. I believe it is still possible to prevent the full implementation of the system, but I fear that most people are too ignorant of the implications of their behavior or too invested in the system already to withdraw. Again, not to rely too heavily on Biblical antecedents, but the people of Noah’s day scoffed at the idea that a flood was impending, until it was upon them, and the time to escape the catastrophe had passed. I hope we are not yet like those antediluvians. Let those with eyes and ears see and hear what is transpiring.

  7. I am loathe to inform one of this but a great many so called conservative sites with comment policies PRACTICE CENSORSHIP with reckless abandon themselves. They censor and ban their OWN posters for saying things the moderators on those sites DON’T LIKE. So HOW is there ANY difference between them and ANY Liberal site that does the SAME THING? Don’t believe me? Say something that their moderators don’t like whether you are a Democrat or DemoRepublicratcan! Don’t be shocked when you find through research that perhaps your comment shows up “to you” but DOESN’T show up to everyone else. OR you are simply told “We are unable to post your comment because you have been banned by Breitbart News Network. Find out more”!

  8. Is it without significance that we were more reflective, self-monitoring, and temperate — not to say more grammatical and rhetorically elegant — when we communicated by means of pen on paper?

  9. Absolutely!

    It is more insidious than Face and Twitt. We need to personally “deplatform” Amazon, Google, Insta, YouTube and probably dozens of others. Beaton uses GMail. Fire them and find a secure email provider.
    This particular leap has occurred in my household. I may miss some conveniences but getting to know the local library, hardware store and other local businesses helps me, and my community gets to see us a little more often. Amazing when we pored through our credit card bill how many little leeches exist , taking a buck here, $7.99 there. Brave New World people. Detatch a little and breathe free. And Pray!

  10. Add Google to the mix too…There are numerous search engine sites out there. Google is massive, but I believe in due time..they will take a hit. It’s sad our world has become so intertwined in social media dysfunction (what I call it)..but we live in a digital world…seemingly being run by leftist elites and the like. We can all do small things that (in time) send a strong message to all of them..we are free thinkers.

  11. Dr Beaton, A FB story from the last week … A HS friend posted her disapproval of the “riot” Trump promoted and “riots” in general … I posted several headlines from last years “riots” approving of “riots” … she asked “What is your point, friend?” (another of her friends called me a bunch of names) … I said nothing in particular except maybe “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.” … To your point, I never actually said what my thoughts are … Incomplete Thought: Not to use an extreme example, but there are many eerie parallels here to the Russian Revolution in Petrograd (St Petersburg): control of information (pamphleteering), small groups of radicals/strikers, etc. … all just focused in a couple of governmental, political, large population areas.

  12. On the surface it is rightly deemed a theft of an election. Down deeper is, I believe, the real theft: theft of authority.

    Tech Cos are stealing people’s time, money, and energy. But their deep theft is of people’s comms. Without comms one is in solitary confinement deprived of all native, inalienable authorities and rights, except one, the right to pray, and that can be degraded by chemical injections to compromise the physical platform of a personality.

    Tech Cos are showing as Techfascists. Theirs is not a winning hand. Authority can be neither permanently nor plenarily stolen.

  13. Well some of the senior members of my clique, I’m middle and 66, proclaimed today that the FB platform is just too well established so we are going to talk in code, then he went on to talk about the United States of America had just suffered through a remarkably swollen erection, get the point? What bothers me most about this incident is that Trumpers were condemned without trial and few are backing up yet more and more evidence that out5side forces orchestrated this. Mr. Sullivan, of Utah AntiFa/BLM fame, some more video is coming out that has him not only egging all on but telling the guards to back off in which they did. My source on this is Epoch Times, the speed with which this was condemned and placed at the feet of everyday Americans that may have given up a lot just to be there that day are completely trashed for5 being there. The R’s that were all set to get to the bottom of the Election Shenanigans bailed with their rubbery spines. Well, enjoy what you got left, they now count the votes and are NOT contested, their winning formula works across the Nation and if you seriously think this will change in 2022 boy I got just the bridge for you………….

  14. And the good news is that Facebook and Twitter just lost $51 BILLION in share prices since last week’s wonderful message by Our President. Karma’s a bitch..

  15. Pingback: Vaccinating anti-vaxxers’ children causes autism – in their parents | the Aspen beat

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