Tag Archives: Social Media is Toxic

How to Fix Social Media

A review of Parler on Renard’s website got me thinking about the mess that is social media

Image via SocialMediaExplorer.com

The bias, cliques and general toxic nature of it all has made me walk away from it entirely years ago. I’m still not sure a blog counts as social media, but this is it for me. 🙂

The reality though is that all social media platforms are EASY to fix. Easy in the sense that the solution is straight forward, but it does require work. What’s the answer? Simple:

Ages ago, back when the closest thing to social media was .vbb (virtual bulletin board – similar in form to reddit, although a little more primitive) discussion sites, I helped moderate one of the biggest ones out there. The code of conduct there was pretty straight forward. The biggest rule that we used to define Trolling and abusive behavior was:

You can debate the idea, but DO NOT attack the person making the post.

Examples (of somewhat obvious concepts):

Debate the Idea: “Tax cuts for the rich doesn’t result in them creating more jobs via reinvestment, they just horde wealth.” Controversial enough to be an example here.

Attack the Post Maker: “What kind of idiot believes that tax cuts actually help the economy?”

Do I even have to point out how one keeps the debate more focused and civil, while the other degenerates it into ad hominid personal attacks and childish name calling?

Why isn’t it done? Simple. None of the owners of these sites want to pay for moderators, and bots aren’t sophisticated enough to differentiate yet. They also avoid dealing with tantrums claiming bias if a human moderator shuts down a troll and their followers.

Yes, there’s political and (mostly) economic bias guiding these decisions also. They don’t want to take what will inevitably be a very large hit to their user bases via this rule. Personal experience has taught me that this is fairly short term though. People LOVE having the spotlight. Take it away from them, and they’ll rant and pout, but then come back and play within the rules MOST of the time because they want their stage and audience back.

The habitual rule breakers and one who will try to skirt the rules constantly… They’ll always be there, and will act even worse without that kind of rule in place.

Of course, there’s the other issue that has to be dealt with, and that takes a cultural shift: Back then, the common sense belief was that free speech and the ability to freely debate ideas was paramount.

Nowadays everybody wants to live in an echo chamber:

The biggest step to straightening out the internet and social media specifically is that the other side has a right to speak.

I’ll be blunt, if you have to resort to silencing dissenting voices via name calling, applying labels, trolling, attempting to get people banned or blocked, etc… In short, if your ideas can’t stand the light of open honest discussion, chances are you don’t understand them yourself.

Change that and implement the above rule along with a few other common sense ones (ie no advocating violence), and social media would change fairly quickly.

Balance, Perspective, and Tuning Out

Time for something vaguely resembling social commentary, since I promised Laura V that I was going to do this post a week ago. It echoes something that’s been on my mind lately, particularly as my pain level drops and I gain fresh perspective on life.

Laura did a post a week or so ago about the need to just set all the political and social drama aside and look for the good, for one’s own mental health. I have to say I completely agreed with it too.

For the longest time, I had the mindset that liberty required eternal vigilance. Turn your back, and corruption and evil will run amok. I scoffed at the new agers who just advocated completely shutting out any sort of news because it’s all so toxic. Stick your head in the sand, and let other clean up the mess.

Anymore, I’m starting to think there’s some wisdom there though.

Why? Look at the messages we get from every source nowadays. “They” are out to get us. We need to oppose THEM, by any means necessary if it gets much worse, etc… And that’s just mainstream pundits on both sides. God help you if you’re spending all your time on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll hear even worse.

Everything anymore is gloom and doom, designed to promote utter hatred, contempt and mental anguish. Very little out there is designed to bring people together. It poisons the soul and erodes mental well being.

I’m beginning to think civilized society is losing the bigger war by focusing on these fights also.

I’ve done a few posts on “being the light” and “being an example“… MAYBE those are the bigger keys to a real victory for humanity. Be the kind of people we want others to be. Let the example we set inspire that change in others.

Yes, it’s work trying to emulate Dr King, Ghandi, Jesus, etc… Hate is easy also, but it’s also destructive to it’s wielder and everyone around them.

I’d say the answer isn’t to turn a blind eye like empty headed new agers only concerned with “good vibes”. None of the three people above turned a blind eye. But they did work for peaceful solutions, understanding others and elevating humanity.

Keep news to a sane level. You can doom surf yourself into a nervous breakdown. Stay detached from stories and remember they’re trying to manipulate you. Work towards good without getting consumed by injustice. Hate can’t be fought with hate, it only grows it.

Remember the other side of any issue are human beings also.

The White House Briefing Yesterday…

I listened to the briefing on the radio yesterday. It was quite an experience to say the least. Trump, who I frequently deride for his arrogant, condescending demeanor and poor wording of even the best meaning ideas, was somber and even toned. It seems he’s now paying attention to the predictions from the more pessimistic people on his advisory team.

He also did point out that we are seeing indications that the measures we are taking are indeed slowing down the virus some. We may also be looking at up to 250,000 dead here before this is all said and done. Worst case? Overly pessimistic? I’d like to think so, but it is hard to say for sure.

One thing I *DO* know for sure: With the release of the test kits that only take 15 minutes and a swab of the mouth, MANY more cases are going to be diagnosed. Some people will freak out over that rise in numbers also. Remember, the vast majority of people that get COVID-19 barely show any symptoms. If you want to look at ANY number related to this pandemic, look at the total number hospitalized. THAT will tell you how many serious cases are out there and how close any country is to having it’s health care system overwhelmed.

Remember also that testing and getting a handle on how many true carriers there are out there will help with better containment, give officials better data on how and where it’s spreading, AND allow for earlier treatment of people at risk, thus saving lives.

Getting back to the press conference and it’s fallout… Trump was overall much more congenial than usual with the media in general and a few political rivals. He had good things to say about California Governor Gavin Newsom, and thanked the media for generally being fair.

MEDIA BIAS & HATE:

Sadly a few reporters couldn’t resist attempts at gotcha questions. THAT is what’s getting all the attention on social media. A few also couldn’t resist the urge to mock the people that Trump had brought together from corporate America to help fight the virus.

Mike Lindell, CEO of “My Pillow” was singled out by Ali Velshi from MSNBC for example. What this hack commentator completely ignored is that the man voluntarily shut down his business and now has it making 10,000 masks a day to help protect people. He’s doing so at cost too! That total is also his starting totals as his company gets ramped up.

Likewise, Telecom company executives were there to talk about what they’re doing to keep phone and internet service up in a time of unprecedented demand. I know I’m dealing with slowdowns now.

Likewise, GM & Ford are stepping up to make ventilators and repair all the defective ones that were made in China and rotting in storage. 30% of the ones we’ve received from China in recent years have turned out to be defective and inoperative.

Most of the media, even most of MSNBC has been a good deal more even handed than this twit. Some of the response has really been sick and pathetic though. These folks need to go to the front of the line in my “I Want People Flogged” post yesterday.

We’re in the middle of a serious pandemic here. What will absolutely make the biggest difference is how people come together to combat it. If we all do as we’ve been asked, stick together, etc… this will probably end up looking like no more than a very bad flu season or the H1N1 epidemic of 2010.

All this divisive BS is only going to cause people to ignore guidelines, act up and prolong the virus. Never mind all the potential secondary fallout like it contributing to the hording and leading to civil unrest. It’s fine to say “I think this would work better instead”. No leader should be above reproach. In a time of crisis, there’s a constructive, CIVILIZED and intelligent way to do it though.

BE AFRAID OF THE SEVERE CRITICS:

I hope my readers are paying attention to the underlying messages from the critics out there. Not just critics of the US President, but other various leaders as well. Many of these people seem to be operating from a delusional state that a leader should be able to snap their fingers and instantly cure things. “The ONLY reason people are dying is because the Prime Minister or President wants them to”.

That kind of thinking is not only delusional, it’s infantile. It shows a level of grasp on reality equal to a 2 year old who has never had mommy and daddy say ‘No’ to them. No political leader has godlike powers (Thank God).

Almost as bad are the idiots that mock private business rising up to help with the situation. They want leaders to just mandate steps and it’s magically going to happen immediately. Essentially what they’re wanting… outright expecting is a government with complete dictatorial powers, and a willingness to use them freely. That kind of thinking should literally scare the shit out of anyone with common sense. To paraphrase an oft heard expression; “A government big enough and willing to give you anything instantly with the snap of it’s fingers, is big enough and more than willing to take away EVERYTHING with another snap”.

SHOW UNDERSTANDING AND COMPASSION:

Aside from opening your eyes to the hate out there, I have one other message:

Fight the bad examples with a good one of your own. Rise up and join the people clapping for health care workers. Do what you can to support others. Set aside the stupid and often false political divides. If you can volunteer to help somehow, do so. A good example out here is a group called Project Linus (named after the character from Peanuts). They sew together blankets and quilts, and provide them to various homeless groups and low income families. Many of them are now sewing cloth masks instead to help people. Everywhere you look, people are rising to the occasion in some way.

That includes businesses also. Everything from big companies like Ford, GM and My Pillow to local dry cleaners doing free cleaning for health care workers and first responders.

Be part of the solution, not the problem. Be the light you wish to see in others.