When you free yourself from the noise and headache of social media and “big tech”, you realize something over time: that everyone is still fighting over what constitutes what in a world that, in reality, doesn’t matter.
For instance, take today’s news from the New York Times: Facebook Expands Definition of Terrorist Organizations to Limit Extremism.
Basically, some people at Facebook are (still) trying to define “terrorism”. They want to define what constitutes terrorism, and then, of course, decide how to ban it. Or maybe allow it. I don’t know. I didn’t read the article.
Because I don’t care.
Uber wants to define how can do what in their cabs. They get press coverage every time they update their policies.
Twitter wants to decide who can have an account, or what they can say on their “platform”.
Instagram tries to reinvent what photos can be on their servers and what photos are not allowed.
LinkedIn wants to make sure that your shares or posts or whatevers are inline with their stated goals and direction (whatever that even is).
And YouTube must have spent a cool billion by now just trying to decide what videos are worthwhile and “legal” and which are not (which is really quite amazing, when you think about it, to think that even 0.01% of their videos have any value or merit or all, considering that any one with a $50 web cam is apparently allowed to clog up the internet with their “footage”).
I don’t care about any of it.
In fact, I find it all a bit laughable.
What I do find interesting, though, is the sheer panic and high pitch noise that is heard every time some Silicon Valley bro club decides to try and figure out the world and/or life.
Why does anyone care about what Facebook thinks? Why do people scream at each other every time Facebook decides that A is okay, but B is not?
They aren’t real. They aren’t real life. They don’t matter. Facebook is not representative of anything, except a small power group of people who run Facebook.
There seems to be some notion that the billions of people that are (surprisingly still) on Facebook as “users” are now “represented” by what a few hundred people in the executive bowels of Facebook say is so.
They can’t seem to understand that what those people think, or how Facebook (or any other of these companies) write out their policies, is relevant only to the people who wrote them.
It defines nothing and no one in real life. Except them.
The rest of us can decide that X is terrorism, or Y is terrorism, or Z is terrorism. Or maybe none of it. Or maybe just ignore it altogether. At the very least, maybe some laws might be relevant to some of us, but what a toy-like tech company does shouldn’t matter to anyone.
Does anyone care what CompuServe says is terrorism? Does anyone ask Tom of MySpace what he thinks constitutes terrorism?
The hysteria is almost a bit hilarious. And a bit sad.
Just live your lives. I’ll live mine. No one cares what Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies think. Or at least, no one should.
It would be like if Lowe’s Hardware decided that they would now carry only Makita circular saws and none from other competitors. Lowe’s doesn’t represent America. Or the world. Or even speaks for Makita.
Such a policy would affect shoppers of Lowe’s, but doesn’t define their beliefs. If those shoppers were happy with Makita circular saws, they probably would just keep buying Makita saws at Lowe’s. If they wanted a different kind of power saw, they’d skip across the street to Ace or Home Depot or Tru-Value and get one.
Why would anyone panic about that? It doesn’t represent the thinking of everyone who goes to Lowe’s each week. Heck, most of the people in Lowe’s on a Saturday are not buying power circular saws.
But here’s the difference. There are a set number of people trapped behind the iron wall of Facebook. They aren’t free. The reach of VOA still hasn’t penetrated their ears.
These people, like the victims of the regime of North Korea, literally don’t know that what Facebook is babbling about has no real skin in the game of life. They think that the dictates handed down from Zuckster-on-High are to be obeyed. There can be no deviations.
They don’t know they can skip-click across the street to a billion other websites and do and say whatever they want. They can write what they want. Post what they want. Or, perhaps best of all, ignore what they want.
They don’t have to be forced-“fed” a “feed” of information from a central source managed by some college brats who created a program to rate women that morphed into the world’s largest social network.
They can just turn it off and walk away. Peace and freedom await. But they don’t know.
We can help only by, sadly, ignoring the whole mess until it dies its slow and natural death.
Sadly, it will take many with it. Heart attacks, broken friendships and relationships, finger-pointing, depression, mental health declines, and warped social and political values… the list goes on.
By the time Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, and any other social or quasi-social network fades into the internet abyss, the untold damage will have been done.
Every day you post or comment or even “lurk” on those networks, you aid and abet their destruction of free thought, free expression, and free spirt.
The internet, like the open conversation of a town square, is regulated in small and tiny ways; you can’t falsely scream “fire” in a movie theater and all that jazz. But it’s a joy and freedom of peace, quiet, creativity, and diversity that can not be found on private computer networks controlled by a few privileged and wealthy few.
Let Facebook define what they want. Who cares? They are irrelevant to real life.
Meanwhile, 3+ years of being free of such networks and I’ve never regretted a day of it.
Even this blog and others I run, I would happily abandon if for a minute I had to deal with censorship and “big brother” mentalities that we see in Silicon Valley.
I’d be happy to read paper books forever and just handwrite letters to my children if need be. Or tell them things with my voice. I suppose one day these weak Uber-style execs (“what? we have to take a taxi? Ugh! Let’s fix it with an app!”) will try to make their utopian world friction-free so they don’t have to hear any alternative views to their own nascent worldviews. Maybe it will be like the opening chapters of Fahrenheit 451.
But for now, we have plenty of freedom to live peaceful lives, share as we like with others, enjoy spirited and open debate, and to read and enjoy what we want without being spoon-fed by an algorithm. All we have to do is walk out the doors of their myopic networks.