There’s something about breaking an eleven year habit that focuses your attention–and it’s actually a 30 year habit if we go back to computer bulletin boards, CompuServe, AOL, Xanga, and all the rest. I was a first generation “new product heat seeker” when it comes to having long arguments with people online, and making real life friends there too.
I’ve never really agreed with the argument, moreover, that it’s necessarily a “bad” habit either. It’s written communication, folks. That’s as ancient as recorded history, and I’ve always preferred it to idle parlor or telephone chat. I find people generally engaging online, sometimes perceptive, witty and often hilarious. I would wager a video-only version of Facebook would be far less interesting — alternatively pause-dominated and full of talk-over interruption.
No, when people have to write what they think, even poor thinkers distill their emptiness down to bearable bursts, or they write nothing at all. Interesting people get more interesting, to me at least, when they compose sentences. I never went in for Instagram, and that says something: for me it’s all about the writing. A picture may not be worth a thousand words, depending on who is letting you know how that gorgeous maple tree next to the barn helped you win Julie’s heart back in 1967.
So, at the outset, I wouldn’t even be giving up the Facebook habit at all, if I didn’t believe, in the final assessment, the people who run the platform are evil, or dim-witted, or both. There is something distinctly vicious, and downright totalitarian, about courting your participation in the village, encouraging you to make friends, share your thoughts, and then arbitrarily rendering you invisible to the community and voiceless — because you violated the ever-changing norms of millennial respectability. I’ve been jailed for lamenting Islamic honor killings, the absurdity of transgender male athletes competing against women, and the “divine Miss M’s” whorish poetry.
I certainly understand rules and the need for moderation, but godless young techies, and the progressive trolls they serve, will never have a consistent standard, and the kind of isolation they can impose would make a Puritan blush. Cotton Mather had to rely, after all, on the conscience of individual disciples to enforce shunning. All these techies have to do is check a box, hit the “update” button, and — like that — you can’t even privately message any of your friends on the platform. An old friend wanted to get together on the farm this weekend, and I couldn’t correspond with him because I was “jailed.” Fortunately, in his case, I had off-platform contact information, so the guardians of Islamic honor killing were not able to prevail, but with the vast majority of my Facebook friends, I would have been in a digital leper colony three thousand miles away — ignoring them for all they knew. (Facebook doesn’t even let your friends know you’re jailed; it lets your friends believe you don’t want to communicate.)
I have quite a few friends who have been jailed for 30 days or more, but this 3 and 7 day banning is enough for me, because I noted, after a while, I was beginning to coddle and legitimize Zucker-think. A proposition for your consideration: sensitive, caring people actually should be discussing how Western Civilization and Islam can be reconciled, don’t you think? That certainly seems to be an important subject to be debated openly, doesn’t it? Someone has to be the adult, right? Someone has to acknowledge that very ugly problems won’t disappear by ignoring them. RIGHT? Well, in the world of de-platforming, de-monetizing, and de-legitimizing, apparently not. Apparently the Saudi Royal family has the power to shut down discussions right here in the good old USA. Apparently the gay lobby and the trans lobby and the Hollywood lobby are so obnoxious, the Facebook censors just do what they ask.
So… The longer you legitimize Facebook with your content, your friendships, your ideas, the more likely it is that Zuckerberg and his team will school you more than you school them. The typical reaction to a Facebook jailing, after all, is laughter, followed by “what did you do now?” That is so utterly the wrong question. The right question is: why do we continue on this utterly capricious, totalitarian platform?
I’m guessing the answer is convenience, and the user-base. When you get on Facebook, you get the sense you could find just about anyone in the world, on the other end of the platform somewhere. When you post something publicly on Facebook, if you aren’t being shadow banned, there’s a small probability millions of people could, theoretically, see it. I’m fairly certain one of my blog articles — Donald Trump and the Pharisees — was seen by more than 2 million people. I had pastors tell me they used it in their sermons, and that it changed a few minds. In a world where the left sees any right-of-center argument as “manipulation,” you begin to understand — I hope — the perils of communicating on such a platform. In a future, content-controlled world, it would be something like being assigned “Studio D,” being told your broadcast is live, and then finding out your feed was blocked.
There’s something to be said for using Facebook as long as we can, but the longer we do that, the longer it will be before we create our own platforms, and the more improbable a mass exodus will be. Right now, I don’t see an alternative for my business advertising, but if you enjoy what I have to say about politics, culture, and Christianity — I’m begging you to put up with an email from me now and then. Join my list. Start a Disqus account. Have an open and honest and fairly moderated discussion somewhere, because you can’t have one — about the important topics — on Facebook.