We hear the promise of “transparency” so much it’s as though we are surrounded by leaders and systems that are perpetually truthful. So why does it feel like we’re wrapped in a sound proof blanket, gasping for breath? Why are we herded into new cathedrals with “Transparency” as the hymn? Warning: There are concepts and images contain that should not be shown to children.
There was a time when we gained strength from our communities. And by communities I mean that in the traditional sense where we were physically present with people on a regular basis. A town square with a summer community band, a church, a garage band. Those groups where we grew up with friends, we fell in love, had our hearts broken, we learned from the gruff neighbor who always seemed impatient yet took the time to show you how to handle a maul and pike to better split wood. Your friend’s dad who told you he’d whip you all if he caught you throwing crab apples from the neighbors front lawn ever again. That’s what I mean by community.
Social media offered the promise of community in a different sense, and I remember bristling at that assertion when I first heard that. I still held true to the traditional sense of community. I might meet people online, but a community? But soon we heard wondrous stories about how social media was becoming a new form of community where you could learn, you could express yourself, you could know far more people with a variety of experiences that would better enhance your life than those who surrounded you. You could perhaps influence multitudes, and maybe exchange words with those figures considered to be experts. Reach real people. There was a seductive draw to that, and I will admit that I after I relented in 2015 and joined Twitter I felt that way too. Social media took on the role of a church, many of us have poured a lot of our energy and attention into social media. In addition to the premise of a new community, there was the natural extension of the reaching people to inform them, to build business networks as well. You heard the phrase “you can extend your reach while you expand your horizons”.
The self congratulatory hyperbole of social media is a symptom of how we can deceive ourselves. I include myself in that diagnosis. I write this with a degree of frustration and a high degree of sadness, because conventional wisdom convinces us that social media is an amplifier, social media is the best way to build relationships, communities and a foundation to accomplish goals. Social media fails at this when you retain your individuality and shun the “rules of the game”. I’ll tell you how shortly.
First I will testify that I have met the best people on social media – I credit that not to social media but to the people who I have developed friendships with. They’re great people. And we have extended those relationships beyond the platform to activities that are not governed by technology nor the rules of the venue that we frequent. That is also due to restrictive rules we see put in place over the years that support cancellation and censorship. We hate the bullshit. It’s wrong, and we all see how it has affected our families when COVID hit and how it affects the country. Essentially we are throwbacks – while we are of varying ages, we want the era before the phones, the iPads when we would be out and about just living. We share that passion of independence, adventure and outdoor life. And I’ve been able to meet some of those I’ve met on social media as well, and have built lasting, meaningful friendships.
But social media is not the amplifier in the way people claim it is. Or in its current form it functions differently that one would expect. I’ve seen comrades join in and not receive the benefits that were promised as part of social media nirvana. It’s not their ideas, it’s that social media disfavors their ideas. And that’s because there are a few token representatives that the powers that be have deemed are “good enough” to represent the rest of us. And I’ll tell you there are those I know who express themselves better than the anointed social media tokens. Far better. Yet even with a paid, verified account, those friends are still not the right types, they are lawful but awful and are kept in a box.
The shame of it all is that there are ad from supposed verified accounts that sell erectile dysfunction pills with adult oriented content. The screenshots are below. It’s porn, and I could care less about the imagery. What I am incensed about is that these appear to be verified accounts. There are numerous variations of the account that have the same ad that appeared in my timeline every 4th or 5th tweet. The account barely meets the requirements for a verified account – you are supposed to have an image of a person as the main profile pic.
We have a calendar where we will donate a portion of proceeds to a charity. I’m not telling you to buy using this. I am illustrating the point that legitimate efforts are stymied. No I won’t buy a blue check because they still filter you based content. I won’t pay a dime /1 https://t.co/gBZ9XSYaP4— Lord Mighty Humanzee (@HZardoz) December 28, 2023
The link to the video is question is here: https://twitter.com/SusanHarri21580/status/1740262932099768822
I state again: I am not whining, I do not want you to subscribe or promote our efforts based on sympathy. I am beyond grateful for all the dedicated people who enjoy what we do. We couldn’t be more blessed.
But when you are promoting an item for charity – it says so in the video and in the text of all the tweets – and you see how limited the range of the message is, it tells you a lot about the myths of social media. I didn’t pay for account validation because I want to remain anonymous, as is my right guaranteed by the Constitution. Read the Federalist papers, some written anonymously, and you’ll see that I follow a good example. I also wouldn’t pay Elon a single penny after I see others severely limited by the content filtering. It is suppression. It’s subtle, and the token accounts who can speak are there to convince people that expression is done so freely. But they prevent you from being seen. Actively.
Again, we are promoting a charity. And dick pills are splashed all over my timeline. And the accounts appear to violate basic rules. And if you recall, Elon claimed that the account verification with credit card would sort out the bot accounts. Did it? Miss Dick Pills tweeting the same ad as Mr Dick Pills is clearly coordinated, the timelines are sparse, they are not accounts for real people.
Yet my unverified account is, by design, limited because I don’t play by capricious rules that vary?
A Challenge From Unexpected Sources
As a precinct delegate, I was faced with a challenge because the district I live in is deep blue, and therefore lists of houses for my party were not even mildly accurate. For the primary, in order for me to win, I realized I would have to canvas homes. That is, instead of targeting households that I knew were for my party and would welcome hearing from me, I had to hit entire blocks and hope I didn’t knock on doors where I wasn’t welcomed. I covered 500 homes in 3 days, and earned 119 votes to garner the highest in the district. That’s a 23% conversion rate. I’m proud of that in a region where conservatives are not welcomed. I am alarmed that the Oakland County Republican party was so disorganized to not have given me the proper list. I inquired afterwards, and was told that there was a second list, qualified names and sorry, it was an oversight. This hollow excuse also seems to correspond with the ballots that the Oakland County Republican party incorrectly printed and used for the county convention, mixing the names from different districts. So I am not adverse to overcoming challenges, but I also expect that consistency should be more than a worthy goal for those who claim transparency is important.
Leg work, shaking hands, talking to people. That’s a lot like what we do on Spaces – we talk to one another. It’s not a top down broadcast, we talk. On social media the rate that we have reached people for our charitable goal is far less than what I got walking from house to house dropping off a flier. What I have seen is the antithesis of what I have been told about the power of social media.
I know writing this may make me sound ungrateful – I am not. I cherish each person who has taken the time to view a podcast, read an article, and participate in Spaces. There are many who I can’t wait to meet some day in person, because the times that we have truly engaged have been outstanding. Those are the times when we talk about life – food, travel, holidays, regional and cultural differences and many things unrelated to politics. Those times have been good for my soul at the end of a long week, believe me. But I can’t remain silent about what I see. I left my software career because I saw my talents being used to promote the COVID lies, and I couldn’t continue to let that lie remain unrevealed. I have to ask people to consider the cost of what social media does compared to what it is supposed to offer. I ask that of myself, because I don’t want to lose relationships. But I see a culture that is being created that is not facing some basic truths. I think that is unhealthy.
Lack of Reach Is More Transparent, Really?
You probably can predict what I am about to say at this point. We are being trained to believe that transparency is truth. We are being trained to garner aspirations from higher castes on a platform that practices the LEAST amount of transparency in it’s actions. I have tweets with video that have been seen by only 33 people. I have 2700 followers, that is slightly over 1%. I see accounts who are verified flout the rules, I see verified accounts receive 6% or higher on their lower viewed tweets. We all know of verified accounts who receive even “transparency” as they are promoted, consistently, and we wonder how they have achieved the upper echelon of likes give the shallow message they have launched into the Twitter-verse.
Think of this: Elon, the owner of this platform, has enough money to buy him all the access and attention in the world. But in the name of transparency, very innocuous messages are throttled because my account does not merit the same level of service as a supposedly verified account that clearly does not participate in the rules, that is used for ads with a woman performing fellatio. And we encourage people to come to this platform to accomplish what? From a business perspective, and based on my campaign experience, the amplification effect has received so much transparency I can better promote a message by walking to 500 homes and leaving a piece of paper at the door. It is a dismal failure in that respect. Additionally, why would ever eat a meal at a restaurant when an appetizer has been disappointing after being served by a haughty waitress who barely conceals her disdain?
What Are We Losing?
I hope people can ask themselves these questions to help round out their views of what they are gaining and what they are losing. And by losing, I mean the time you have poured into the smart phone that captivates your attention can keep you from your community, your home, and your family. And have you gauged who you have reached and what that has actually accomplished? I thought I would never win a campaign without social media, but I walked my ass off, and didn’t bother with an Instagram account until 3 days before the election. I also saw losing battles with local zoning ordinances because people were fooled that they could win a battle online, and preferred to hold Zoom meetings instead of getting signatures on petitions. I saw my local city government conduct surveys online that “mysteriously” seemed to always prove the premise of the plans they wanted to enact. Instead of getting bodies to city hall EN MASSE, people had the foolish idea of reaching out online to flood the survey with the “correct” answers.
We all have good goals – we talk about them on a weekly basis, but we have to ask if we are achieving those when we ignore what is front of us. I say this out of kindness and love for those I know. If we care about our online community as people, we have to ask that question as well. When we don’t we cease being truthful. Transparent or not, truth is the most important thing of all.