Shouldn’t every American be...insulted?
In the very small likelihood that you haven’t heard the news, Donald Trump was banned by Twitter, Facebook, and various other online platforms. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s skip the tired old “they’re private platforms and can do as they want” tripe. Yes, this is true. But the legality and/or ethicality is not what matters. What matters are the effects, and how we respond.
Think about what this says about the mega wealthy people behind Big Tech, and how little regard they have for your intelligence. The President of the United States is being banned from communicating with the American people.
What are we, children? We don’t need Big Tech to act as gatekeepers. It seems Zuckerberg, Dorsey and the rest of the crony corporations --- who always seem to act in concert, as if they have a twice-per-week meeting at the local Starbucks to discuss their “role” in “saving Democracy” --- think so little of your ability to discern what information is valid and/or dangerous that they’ve decided to just do it for you. So let’s ask this question, then: why them? Who put them in charge of babysitting us?
The sad answer to this question is we did: by gradually easing into this new reality where we’re all-but-incapable of receiving/sharing/discussing any info at all without the major online platforms. Gatekeeping is exactly what we should expect. We practically asked them to do it, when we abandoned public discourse for...whatever this is.
Please, Mark, do a little more to prevent us from having to exercise critical though and self awareness. Please, Jack, set a few more double standards for what you define as “hate speech”. Its your platform, and I’ll support it as long as its not my animosity or distaste that’s being censored. Heck, even if it is, I’ll continue to finance your agenda by using your product, and just complain about it constantly. Please do your best to hear the following words in a very whiny voice: social media is essential. How else are we supposed to stay informed, and inform others?
(I could answer that with a nice tirade, but that would be soapboxing. I’ll content myself for now to just say that we need to wake up and realize how inferior social media is as a means to communicate ---especially when it comes to politics.)
Censorship is the fault of every American who has used the Big Tech platforms in the last few years. While Zuckerberg was seeing an unprecedented increase in his wealth over 2020 (presumably due to the lockdowns), small business was shrinking. Meanwhile, Facebook users were being subjected more and more to an aggressively controlled narrative.
This narrative just so happened, undeniably, to make Facebook an insane amount of money and radically transform public opinion about a lot of things. If you disagree, don’t let the door hit you on your way out back toI-hate-crony-corporations-but-am-blind-to-the-evils-of-the-very-richest-ones land.
Just saying. The profit motive was there, as it was with the Bezos-controlled pro-lockdown Washington Post. All we did was whine about it --- or worse, agree with it. I mean, if you’re going to take a look at the pro-lockdown argument, please, please, please at least get it from somebody without a very direct and very obvious profit motive. Or am I asking too much?
The sad part is that they’re really not wrong when they think so little of our discernment as a society. Americans are so lacking in discernment that some of them are cheering on the banning of the POTUS. You know this is the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military, right? Even if its only for a few more days. Think about this: right now, he’s laying low, and being accused of treason by special interests who actually have no political authority. And the military is constitutionally obligated to obey him, and one thing about the military is that they take the constitution seriously. They signed up to potentially die for it, after all.
It may not be a good thing for anybody if he can’t talk to the American people. Love or hate the guy, we should want to know something --- anything --- about what he’s doing. Even if its “lies” or “threats” or “inciting violence”, and least we’d have some info about what he’s doing. Right now, the media is glossing over the fact that we have no idea.
Speaking of love and hate, a large piece of the country wants his blood. Meanwhile, his base is see thing and he’s backed into a corner, with the keys to the military, and he can’t even speak to the people? Well, goodbye negotiations. If you haven't figured out that Big Tech doesn’t have your interests in mind, its no wonder they’re comfortable telling you that you need a babysitter.
We’re so lacking in discernment that we don’t care. Some of us are open about the fact we don’t care; others say we do with our words only. The self-important elitists behind Big Tech can just step in and start classifying speech like they’re the KGB, and we let them. Is it a foregone conclusion that they know better than us?
Some have celebrated the march of censorship as it has accelerated through 2019, 2020 and into the early days of 2021. These people are apparently oblivious to the fact that they are not carbon copies of Mark Zuckerberg, or Jack Dorsey. If Big Tech can get away with deplatforming the President, who has a mighty military force behind him, they won’t stop. Ever. At all, period. Tomorrow, or next month, you will no longer agree with everything they say. Then it will be your turn. All because you let Mark and Jack stand out on the front lines of reality and pick and choose which pieces of it your sensitive, under-developed psyche could handle.
But its all good, because they are saving our “democracy”. They’re not even duly elected through any democratic process, unless you want to call mindless indulgence in an addictive entertainment product a “democratic” process. The only thing more irresponsible than the modern American voting with their dollar is them voting with their use of a free product like Twitter. Nobody appointed Big Tech in charge of saving our democracy --- least of all from a threat that they themselves have diagnosed.
Are they within their “rights” to do so? Sure. But we should be insulted, anyways. Big Tech is a bunch of transnational corporations. They’re among the Top 10 wealthiest corporations in the world. They’re loyal to profits above all. They don’t care about democracy. They don’t practice or promote the values of democracy. They have customer bases in other countries, and they capitulate to the demands of those governments for access to those customers. And yes, totalitarian, ethnic-minority-cleansing, organ-harvesting, slave-labor-using China is one of those countries. Saving democracy is a load of tripe. Who are they to lecture us about Democracy?
But we’re so lacking in discernment, it doesn’t matter. Far too many of us would not weigh their words against their actions. Why would we? We don’t even weigh our own words against our actions. Yep. We’re so lacking in discernment that we know something is a problem, and we condone it, anyways.
No wonder they think so little of our discernment --- if behaviors is any measure, there’s very little discernment to be measured at all.
The worrisome part is that Facebook and Twitter have willfully abandoned a huge part of their customer base. That signals one of two things: either they can smell more profits in narrative control, or they’re truly worried about what might happen to them if President Trump begins to enact a vengeful vendetta on those major players who have, objectively speaking, spent the last 4.5 years defaming him. Its probably a combination of both. Its unlikely that the third option is in play at all--- you know, the one where Zuckerberg and Dorsey actually are heroic vigilantes that are saving democracy out of the goodness of their hearts.
Transnationalism indicates this is not the case. Censorship indicates this is not the case. Their billions and billions of dollars indicate that this is simply not the case. They don’t show that they care about values, or freedom, or democracy. They show that they care about exploiting the mass of consumers for every last penny and every last moment of their attention.
Even so, many of those that free speech defenders would call “dissidents” are still on these platforms, fighting for a toehold down to the last. Why? It’s not like you’re not getting anywhere with that. You know its only a matter of time before you get the axe, and then you’re rebuilding your social media presence all over again.
Its not going to stop. Mainstream, conventional Republicans will be next. There’ll probably be some radical free thinking Progressives, Libertarians and Independents in the next purge. The moderate right will then either be brought to heel or be deplatformed.
We became reliant on social media fast. People don’t even know how to talk to strangers anymore, let alone regarding something so incendiary as modern politics. Indeed, the Facebook-less night is dark and full of terrors. It doesn’t matter what story users tell themselves to justify capitulating. It will, in the end, be a relief to just give in, confess your “sins”, and join the comfortable masses in their consensus that Big Tech is their lord and savior.
Alt-tech won’t save us, either. Reddit is a perfect example of what happens to successful free speech driven platforms. Parler already has been cancelled by AWS, who hosted the site. Very little foresight by Parler, there. I guess live and learn doesn’t always mean you get to live to exercise your newfound wisdom.
Gab is a little more hopeful. In this case, the Thought Police are victims of their own success. They tried all the tried-and-true angles to cancel Andrew Torba. But he wouldn’t go away, and in the end, his resilience and resourcefulness have made his platform self sufficient. Now it appears they can’t deplatform him.
Its going to be a tough battle for Torba, though. The Facebook and Twitter mass exodus is driving incredible amounts of traffic to Gab. He’ll have to figure out a way to deal with it. And since they can’t cut off his money anymore, or cancel his hosting, they’ll try new angles. If they can’t frame him for a crime, they’ll try lawsuits regarding his publisher/platform status. If that proves unsuccessful, they’ll just bury him in pointless lawsuits meant to occupy his resources. Maybe they’ll even try to get the laws changed. The attacks on Gab will get more and more personal. He’ll have to heavily vet any help he takes onto the development team. Meanwhile, the platform will be infiltrated by bad actors masquerading as right wingers. Disinformation will be rife, as it always is in any anonymous setting.
Personally, I don’t think Gab is the answer, because I think social media is a carrot on a stick. Who doesn’t want to believe that they can change the world with a keyboard, from the comfort of their armchair? But we can’t, for a multitude of reasons I will get into another time.
I expect its only a matter of time before Gab finds itself on the same slippery slope that Reddit fell victim to. Then, we’ll look back at all the time we spent red-pilling people who already agree with us and wonder why things have only gotten worse in our once great country. Will we finally be ready, then, to accept that social media is not the way, the truth or the light?
The answer is ending our reliance on social media, and bringing back public discourse. The real kind--- you know, the kind they can’t censor. The kind they’re actively infringing upon with social distancing, masks, and stay at home orders. Is this because they can’t censor it? And if this is the case, isn’t that an indication that this is one of our greatest weapons? After all, if you’re an advocate for free speech, you should use free speech to advocate for it. And at this point in time, face-to-face public discourse is the freest form of communication. We’re not going to win the war on free speech without it.