Tag Archives: Social Media

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.

Beware Media Hysteria & Manipulation

It’s Tuesday! Time to take out the trash again. LOL

The coronavirus mess has done a lot to highlight media sensationalism and manipulation IF you’re paying attention and looking for facts. I’ve gone over the statistics in recent blog posts. This virus should be taken seriously. Sheltering in place and social distancing is a good idea. Is it the end of the world though? No.

If you paid attention to most media outlets, either we’re all going to die and it’s going to be worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918, OR we should all go out and lick shopping carts because it’s a hoax.

Ironic that the last proponent of “it’s all a fraud” that I heard was Rand Paul. He was on the radio a little under a week ago howling that it was all just an attack on civil liberties. No word on if he’s changed his tune since coming down with the virus. O_o

On the hysteria side, the best example I’ve seen was media sources quoting Emily Landon, MD, Executive Director Infection Prevention and Control, University of Chicago Medical Center in saying this was the Spanish Flu of 1918 all over again.

She (and the media quoting her) completely neglect to mention that the Spanish Flu killed somewhere between 17 and 50 million people. Some say as many as 100 million. She also fails to mention that the Spanish Flu was much more dangerous to younger people with stronger immune systems than COVID-19 is. There were also other secondary factors like areas still physically recovering from World War 1 getting hit extra hard.

As of today, we have 18,605 total deaths worldwide, 2091 just today. That’s enough to merit taking this seriously. It’s a FAR cry from 50 million people in a year though.

Here’s the thing with the shelter in place and other measures we’re all being advised to follow: If they work properly, it’s going to look like they were never needed, or at least were a big overreaction.

Stay calm, realize this will pass, and take anything the media EVER tells you with a grain of salt. Be skeptical. The media thrives on creating fear and anger.

So, let’s look at some of their more common tricks:

“Expert” Opinions:

The two examples above illustrate that the media will ALWAYS be able to find an “expert” to back up whatever opinion they have. Rand Paul and Emily Langston are both doctors, but have COMPLETELY opposite views on this mess. Why? Personal motivations.

Rand Paul was raised by his father to be a huge civil liberties guy. Normally we could use more of them too. Sometimes, common sense has to balance civil liberties with social good.

Emily Langston runs the Infectious Disease Center at the University of Chicago. A) the more noise she makes about this, the more money her center will get from the government and private donors. B) Given her role, she probably sees every new outbreak in terms of an absolute worst case scenario.

“Experts” almost always run off of motivated self interest before anything else. Another example from this pandemic is that it’s being reported that the CDC was actually downplaying how dangerous this outbreak was at the beginning. They supposedly got blindsided by it and didn’t want to look ignorant. I’ve only heard a few unconfirmed reports here, but if true it explains where the White House and others were getting bad info from.

Just hit a search engine if you want to see how many times the CDC has dropped the ball before. Anybody recall they were all for e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to smoking when that first started?

Partial Truths:

Keep in mind that no matter how bad any media outlet spins a story, there’s always going to be just enough truth to avoid having to admit they bald faced lied. What do I mean?

OK, let’s say there’s a news story about some EVIL person swooping into the local store and buying up their entire inventory of toilet paper. The story takes on a whole different light if that “entire inventory” was the last package they had, doesn’t it? Technically they reported accurately BUT would they have given a true picture in that scenario? I’ve seen the media go this far in other cases to create ratings. I always ask what I’m NOT being told anymore.

Half Quotes:

Another favorite tactic of the media. Politicians on both sides either benefit or suffer from the tactic’s use. It all depends on who is doing the reporting on whom. Reagan used to get misquoted by the media all the time regarding his proposed shutting down the Department of Education. They’d report that he wanted children to suffer. They ignored that what he actually proposed was sending the funding directly to the states instead, believing people closer to the issues knew better how to spend the money than bureaucrats in Washington DC.

Leaving Out Key Facts:

There’s no test kits and medical supplies!!! How often have you heard THAT exaggeration in the news? Well, they’re ALL manufactured in CHINA, right down to every antibiotic that’s sold in the US. Anybody see a problem here? Anybody hear that fact reported, or is it all blaming the government and evil corporations?

Manipulative and Misleading Language:

I’ll finish this up with this one last major tactic. The media, politicians, corporations and PR firms, and some of the more manipulative individuals out there all pull this trick. Manipulative language is everywhere

One story on MSN’s home page talked about how the number of deaths from COVID-19 *SOARED* in the US. It sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Virus spreading everywhere, no one is safe! If you look at the numbers though, we’re at 600 deaths nationwide. In a population of 330 million, that’s a pretty damned small number.

Again, let’s follow the advice out there and keep that number small. Be kind to your fellow bloggers and human beings too. Even when you know the facts, this is still a kind of scary situation.

BOTTOM LINE:

Be skeptical of anything the media tells you. Displaying personal bias and social engineering are seen as good things in the media today. Strong negative emotions = strong ratings also. No single source is going to get it all correct. It’s not enough to go to a source with a similar outlook also. If you like CNN, you’re only going to get the same info at MSNBC. You have to go to TownHall.com or Fox. The same is true of you flip the coin. Fox and talk radio slant the truth also. I catch them regularly. You have to look at and fact check both sides to find the more complete truth in the middle.

And for the love of humanity, DO NOT get your news from late night comedians or social media! Talk about fountains of misinformation and hysteria…

Be The Light…

I’m sure I’m confusing people on twitter with my moderate’s disdain for the political extremes running amok there.  I’m grateful that some people seem to get it though.

My “No Politics” post didn’t make things as clear as I’d have liked.  I have TWO big problems with politics and the way people talk to others:

 

1) Issues are NEVER as simple as the extremists and demagogues on either side make them out to be.  For example, gangs are just one good reason for a border wall, BUT we have to overhaul our immigration system as well and allow good people a chance at the American Dream, take an honest look at what we may be doing to contribute to problems in Latin America, and see if we can do things to help them help themselves.

2) These extremists not only shut down thinking and discussion, they spread hate and poison.  There’s a principle of metaphysics that says hate only attracts more hate and conflict.  It doesn’t matter how righteous you THINK your cause is, if your answer is trashing and threatening violence against those you disagree with, you are part of the PROBLEM, not the solution.  You are also actively working to make the world a DARKER place.

I keep saying be more like Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Jesus, Buddha, etc…  I have a perfect story that illustrates the point also.  The Christmas Eve service is the one time this heathen is guaranteed to turn up at church.  The closing part of the services; the same every year, are exactly why:

The Pastor talks about the need to carry the Christmas Spirit into and through the new year, and how the world is a dark place if everybody withholds their love, compassion and caring from the world.  To illustrate the point, the lights are turned off in the chapel.

Now, everybody is given a candle entering the service.  They’re all being lit as the Pastor speaks.  He tells everyone to keep the candles low at first also; withhold their light from the world metaphorically.  Then he starts talking about how people can be the light, and make the world a better place.  Then all 3000 people (It’s a big church) hold up their candles.  It’s beautiful and amazing the difference it makes

Bayside Church Candle Lighting & Silent Night

Afterwards everyone sings Silent Night and the service are over.

Watch the YouTube video through to the end and see if it doesn’t have the same impact on you as it did me.  It’s alot of light, and it’s people wanting said light to better the world, NOT burn it down.  THINK about that. Remember the people you disagree with are human beings with legitimate reasons for feeling and thinking the way they do.  If you actually talk to them like human beings, you will PROBABLY find out that you have more in common than you realize once you get past artificial labels.

Think win-win and you can probably also find a solution that’s not perfect, but works for both of you.

BE THE LIGHT

A Little Background…

So I’ve decided to let loose a little information about me as a writer, and why I’m fairly private as a person.

Privacy, I’ll keep simple.  I’m an introvert till I get to know people.  I’ve also had more than my share of bad experiences online and offline, so I do have some trust issues.  Overall I consider myself to be fairly well balanced though.  I also have an Associate’s Degree in Network Security, which for the record is largely useless beyond scaring the crap out of you over how many ways there are to get and exploit your personal information.

Writing is something I’ve always had an interest in.  I’ve always been good in English related subjects.  I first got serious with it when TSR released the Marvel Superheroes pen and paper RPG (role playing game).  I had always liked comic books and this gave me a format for creating my own heroes and telling my own stories.  I ended up with about 20 of my own heroes, and about as many villains, and created the stories that my friends and I ran through.  We never got into acting out the roles of the characters, but the creative process was fun.  Then came video games…

Yes, that’s right.  As crazy as it sounds, a video game helped make me a writer.

It started with the City of Heroes MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game.  It had  one of the richest character creation systems ever seen in video games.  This led to many people who used to roleplay on old pre-internet BBS sites to jump into the game.  These were serious roleplayers that made up their own adventures and acted out the roles of their characters.

Why bother when the game had content, you ask?  The content ran out fast, then you were either left re-running old stuff again with a new character OR putting your imagination to work.

Yes, I know it sounds weird.  It did to me also, BUT I gave it a try despite being somewhat shy.  It took a short time to break through my reservations.  Being about superheroes probably helped.  Once I did, it was an AMAZING experience though.  Think of it in terms of a never-ending, constantly ongoing class in creative writing and improvisation.  We did live stuff on the server, kept notes and did cooperative written storytelling on our forums site.

Suddenly a locked up imagination that had been discouraged by parents and others burst into full bloom.  I was creating detailed characters, directing plots and having the time of my life writing out all of it.

Well, online roleplaying communities have kind of fallen apart.  The good players have moved on and largely been replaced by people who can only play ultimately powerful characters or see it only as an opportunity for cybersex.  I’ve developed characters and stories for City of Heroes, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Conan: Exiles and a few other games.

My work was generally well received too, but I never considered myself “good enough to turn pro”.  As my health became problematic and I grew sick of the increasing drama with multiplayer games, I started to look at it more seriously though.  Now here I am, hoping to make a go of it.

As for liking superheroes in the first place…  I didn’t have anyone to truly look up to while growing up.  They became my examples of people who did the right thing, stood on principles, and had the ability to make a difference and help others.

My Thoughts on BDSM

Since my half dozen (thus far) non fan fiction erotica pieces all have at least a slight element of domination and submission to them (Amy’s Seduction being the only real exception), AND I’m picking up followers on Twitter into that lifestyle, I felt I’d take a couple of minutes to spell out my thoughts on the subject.

Plain and simple, my view is that as long as it’s safe, sane and above all mutually consensual, it’s all good.  All of that requires a great deal of communication and self awareness by both parties.

I have one huge gripe with elements of the community.  That being the “if you’re not doing it MY way, it’s not really domination!” crowd.  To be blunt, that’s not only utter crap, it also tells me the Dom or Domme uttering it has no idea what they’re talking about, quite likely little or no respect for submissives, and / or massive insecurity issues.  A real dominant is going to want to talk, make sure the other person is more than just titillated, and has compatible ideas about what BDSM is.  If their ideas later drift apart on the subject, they will set the submissive free instead of trying to force them past hard limits also.

I’m fairly passionate on the issue because I used to have a virtual part-time job counseling women who were responding to ads looking for submissives on a certain free site that no longer runs personals.  Horrified by some of the “dom” ads I saw I posted my own telling submissives that their submission was a gift given, it had to be earned, that a dom should listen to your wants and needs when establishing relationship boundaries, and that it was just as much about their orgasm as his.

It was amazing and scary how many “thank you” replies I got from women with strong curiosity but who were confused and scared after ‘talking’ to abusers who told them that if they were submissive at all, they’d immediately do anything and everything the “dom” said, no questions asked, right from the moment they met.  A few of them even told me they were made to feel like they were crazy until they read my post.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m anything but a saint.  I’m proud to say I saved a few women from abusive relationships though.

It Happened Again!

For those who missed my last post, the day before yesterday, Twitter made a follow recommendation that was completely unrelated to anything I’d tweeted or searched (anywhere online), or even been near in almost a year.  It was a place I’d just been talking about however.  Since there was NO way to know otherwise, the only conclusion I can come to is that the recent conspiracy theory about various social media outlets tapping phones and computer microphones is true.

Of course there’s pure coincidence.  That’s unlikely, but people win the lottery all the time despite there being a ten times better chance of being hit by lightning, right?

Well, it happened again last night.  The TV was on and the local news was talking about a serial predator getting state paid legal representation.  I commented aloud that it sucks, but that I believe that guarantee is an important part of our legal rights.  A few minutes later I log back into Twitter and the top of my recommended follow list is the Federalist Society.

Again, they have NOTHING to base that recommendation on.  I don’t surf or search political sites, and I keep my writing completely free of politics also.  The rhetoric is just too heated and unthinking on all sides, and I do NOT want it poisoning my writing or alienating followers.  With that being the case, the only thing they have to base that recommendation on is verbal comments picked up by a PC or cellphone microphone, and almost right after said comments were made.

Facebook, Google, Twitter…  They’re all eavesdropping I guess.

OK, This is Just Creepy…

For those NOT in the know, there’s a conspiracy theory going around that social media, especially Facebook, actively taps your smart phone mic and camera to eavesdrop and target advertising to a scary level.  I saw an article the other day that explained how it was all actually done via phone GPS and merchants selling your transaction data… supposedly.  It seemed a reasonable explanation, albeit still a massive invasion of privacy.

The “SUPPOSEDLY” comes in because I just had an Orwellian moment about a half hour ago…  I logged into Twitter on my laptop, and at the very top of my suggested follows list is a place I hadn’t been within miles of in a year and had done NO online searches, etc… about.  I had just gotten done discussing the place face to face verbally with somebody else though.

And then it just magically pops up at the TOP of my list on Twitter?!?  Like hell somebody isn’t listening.  The odds otherwise of that place popping up are astronomical, especially when you factor in it’s one of the last places you’d expect to see an erotica author!

Most Curious…

I posted a bit of thinking out loud regarding the rules for writing yesterday.  Afterwards, I asked for opinions from other writers regarding how “carved in stone” these rules were, etc…  I got six likes in the post, which is awesome.  Absolutely NO replies however…

It got me wondering if anybody REALLY reads posts, or if they just take a quick glance, then either decide they like it OR just click “Like” in the hopes of getting reciprocal likes.

Just making that assumption would be pointlessly negative though.  I personally will click “Like” on content I enjoy, but won’t add a comment unless I can add something actually meaningful to the conversation.

Realistically, either option is, or at least COULD BE true of a segment of the likes.  So could other explanations. The whole thing just has me wondering now if anything I write here IS truly liked OR if we’re just spinning our wheels here pretending that what we say or do here matters any more than social media.

And if anybody didn’t guess, I’m pragmatic and consider social media largely about vanity and killing time.  Decent marketing tool though.