Yesterday, I deactivated my Facebook account. I am certain this deactivation will lead to a permanent divorce from this insidious killer of friends and I will likely go back to the old ways of communication. While the social media platforms allow the instant expression of opinion and conviction, they also are terribly destructive. It occurred to me that I was participating in a unbelievably dangerous exercise that chooses friends and makes enemies while the politically aligned owners of the platforms revel in their incredible power to control the message. I am 71 years old, and do not need to play their game.
First up, are friends lists. Folks when someone is “unfriended” it is not a divorce, replete with a division of property and courtroom fight. Unfortunately, that is how is is viewed. In reality it often means we are fed up with the cheer leaders who offer one shot, personal attacks in support of your “friends” position. It is like watching a playground fight, with bystanders cheering on their favorite participant. We tend to choose friends with an eye to whom they are friends with….and this is complicated. I think you see my point.
Social media has incredible power. I am finished with permitting them to subtly manage my response to the political scene in America that I feel is as threatening as any event since the division over Vietnam. Sorry to say, I have allowed myself to be pulled into this discussion in a vivid and dangerous way. When you are provided with advisories that suggest your association with policing may be exposing you to retribution from those who do not appreciate the profession, you are are not the sharpest pencil in the box if you persist. At the end of the day, it has occurred to me that my opinions on political matters are of little passing interest to folks whose minds are made up. Like a trout laying behind a rock, I have been too quick to take the bait, and that is squarely on me. Social media enables carefully scripted nonsense while weeding out differing opinion to suit their political agenda. The problem is that nonsense to one is gospel to the other and big tech manipulates the message.
Foreign interference in our affairs must love social media. It is the perfect conduit for psychological warfare in a country that feeds on freedom of expression and an open media. This topic alone is worthy of pages of discourse as it is yet another insidious aspect of social media. Instead of scripted little paper messages from an airplane, or Tokyo Rose broadcasts to our troops, it is a keystroke away from our offices and living rooms. Congress talks about it, but as of yet, hasn’t gotten off their collective asses to address this issue.
Finally, I am concerned with just what the social media giants know about me. I find it fascinating that if I google a new fish bait, I am soon bombarded with ads for bass boats and the latest package junkets to New Zealand and it’s fishing. They know I am a conservative, likely my church affiliation, what kind of car I drive and what my dining preferences are. They know that I am a 2d Amendment supporter, where I live and about my vacation preferences. They know exactly which politicians I prefer and those that I loathe. It is a sad state of affairs when Facebook knows more about you than your most trusted friend who will always have your back. In this vicious, divided environment in America, a bullhorn is not advisable. There are too many folks who hate bullhorns……..
I recall specifically where I was and what I was doing when a friend suggested that I join Facebook. Another friend, sitting with us, suggested in the strongest possible terms that becoming involved with social media would be the biggest mistake that could possibly be made. Friend number 2 was not persuasive. I should have listened to him. To those of you who enjoy social media, may God bless you. There are many great aspects to this discourse enabler. For me, I have reached the point where the disadvantages outweigh the advantages and I will go back to print media, the local news and email to accomplish my information needs. Like any addict, I will waver in my resolve, but believe I can break the habit. When something is no longer fun, experience has taught me to stay away from it.
The paper was just delivered, time to catch up!