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The Segregation of Social Media

I previously mentioned I quit Facebook again this past week. It's not the first time I quit but hopefully it will be the last (in that I'll never go back). I can't foresee returning but I never thought I was going to return about a year ago when I did, so there is a slim possibility.

One of my friends from the juggling group that I regularly attend talked with me about leaving. See, there is a Facebook group for our juggling community and one of the things that is lost when you leave that platform is that you are removed from all of those groups as well.

I mentioned the time suck that Facebook requires, and frankly it is a bigger time suck than LJ could ever be, if only because there are so many people that you feel compelled to interact with on a regular basis, and there are news sources and other stuff and the app constantly sends notifications about what stuff your friends are sending. Insidious doesn't even begin to cover it.

But then I also mentioned how being on Facebook really wasn't all that much fun for me. Really, if something is taking up a portion of your life, you better be having fun in somewhat equal proportions to the amount of time you're spending. Otherwise, that's time badly spent. And my friend said something interesting. He said "You like to post those social change issues. I don't think that stuff really plays on there."

He went on to say that "you can't change anyone's mind about things, certainly not in a format like that." That wasn't specifically why I quit, but I was taken somewhat aback by the statement anyway. He typically didn't comment on anything in my feed at all, sticking with just commenting to things in the juggling group. It was rather an interesting insight specifically because he obviously saw what I posted but never commented. And that's a reflection on the nature of social media, generally. I think when I post comments, it is going to rub some people the wrong way, specifically because that is the nature of politics and the nature of what our politics is doing to the people of this country. Life isn't as simple as many believe it is for many citizens of this land.

I responded that the problem when we talk about "social change" issues is that there are a lot of people that don't even know a problem exists. People live their lives with the assumption that everyone is dealing with the circumstances they face in about the same way.


And the first step in hoping to fix that is through discussing it, because why would anyone who has been insulated and is busy trying to live their life know or understand the circumstances of someone else who has a very different experience? The only way to start is by talking about the facts of a situation, at least letting people hear about it, seeing if they understand it and reaching out to others for help and support. It's how we erase assumptions and replace those with facts.

He agreed with my points, so that was a small victory, but it made me think about everything to do with social media and how difficult it can be. I'm sure there are people on LJ who do not agree with my politics. Certainly at least one person removed me from their LJ specifically because of that element, and likely others have as well along the way. And that's the segregation of social media. People who do not share the same thoughts and values as you do typically don't belong on your feed because that will just cause annoyance or anger. It will make you upset and you don't use social media to get upset. Unless you do. But that's a different kind of circumstance.

I do visit a couple of message boards that are specifically political and are mostly conservative. I go there for a couple of reasons. First, I like to read what someone who has a different point of view is saying about various topics. If I want some culture shock, I visit Breitbart, a site that I guess is back under the control of former Trump aide, Steve Bannon, but was run in the interim by a guy who graduated from my Alma Mater, much to my shame and regret.

I never comment to anything at that board because that would be begging for abuse. People there have views of reality that are so distorted, it doesn't make sense to attempt to engage them in rational discourse. Just treat it like an horrific traffic accident, slow down, view it, shake your head, say a prayer and keep moving.

But there are a couple of boards that are a little more to the center and I will bat some concepts back and forth with some of the people on those boards. The one I most frequently attend is Scott Adams' blog. Adams, who draws the "Dilbert" comic strip, has become something of a political savant after his commentary about how he thought Trump would do during the 2016 election turned him into a Cable News talking head, a year ago. He's now trying to convert his success into a payday by getting his readers to join him on some other social media platform where he'll likely get a payday for bringing new eyeballs to see ads on the other site he's coercing folks to join.

The point is that most people who post on Adams' current blog don't quite expect someone with a liberal, or as they prefer, "libtard" mindset to come to that group and start posting stuff that doesn't align with their opinions. But I've had some successes along the way, or at least the people I converse with said they understood what I was saying, which is a pretty big step, from my POV, or better, if they don't respond to the point, it means they have no response, and that's a victory, too.

This is the issue when it comes to social change. We can't stay segregated. That's helping fuel the problem. Everyone needs to hear what the aggrieved are saying when it comes to how society is treating them, and then we have to do something to help them. Unless we are not acting in the way we claim we intend to be. How do we face the view of ourselves if we're being honest about what we believe?

But at the very least, we have to keep talking with one another. Cutting off communication, choosing to insulate around only people that believe everything that you do? That's creating an echo chamber, a situation where we can only hear our own beliefs, and everything becomes warped when we have a situation like that. We have to continue to challenge each other, to be willing to state what we actually think and to listen when someone has a different view. That's the way to help the country and continue to move forward.

There's a famous quote that reads "My country, right or wrong." But there's another part to that famed phrase: "if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."

Here's hoping.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 4th, 2017 04:55 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. I do believe that we are rapidly approaching a very dangerous place where our commonalities....are no longer identifiable. Without common vision, goal, perspective, dreams, lives, hopes....we aren't going to be able to co-exist. Perspective is needed and that seems to be something lacking. I believe much of that is because of public education in this country. Also, of course, is this brilliant discussion of segregation. We have become more insulated by the "global village" of the internet than I would have even imagined possible back in the early 90's when the internet broadened all of our lives.
Oct. 4th, 2017 05:13 pm (UTC)
The internet was designed to be a communication device, first and foremost. It makes perfect sense that people who share beliefs will find each other and spend time talking. What doesn't quite make sense is this need to block out anything and everything that doesn't fit that mold.

Breitbart really is the prime example. Any liberal who attempts to enter that backyard is going to be thrown to the wolves. So, basically that's a "safe space" for these thoughts and beliefs to grow, unchecked. And to me, that's rather dangerous. Now, your sense of what is "accurate" has been skewed in a very big way, supporting things you already believe and never challenging those beliefs.

I really do see this as part of what the Russians were attempting to do when it came to our election, whether or not they had any "insider" help. If you can create a civil war, then nobody is ever going to notice the other stuff going on.

The biggest of that "other stuff" the issue of Net Neutrality, which is going to be an enormous element to deal with in the not too distant future. If ISPs start making it much more expensive to have what's referred to as "fast internet," they are going to make it difficult for any users that can't afford that pricetag the ability to do what they want on the internet, like say, post a comment to a conservative news group or post live video of some atrocity. It is another method of silencing those whose only outlet is their voice.

And with those who have couched themselves in these alcoves of safety, there is no chance they'll hear, or likely even care. Somehow, we have to find ways to stop, or at least slow down this process. We need to be vigilant, now more than ever.
Oct. 4th, 2017 05:28 pm (UTC)
I really believed, in the 90's, that the internet was a collective Jungian experience. That human beings were moving from an individuation process of the past 2,000 years and returning to a village consciousness but on a global level. I really no longer see that.

Besides the segregation of like-minded, we are seeing the internet used to its worst by terrorism recruiters.

A similar issue to Brietbart on the liberal side is the left-leaning of home pages such as Bing or Yahoo. The stories are all left-leaning and/or mainstream media. If one follows those links, say about Rex Tillerson, and doesn't do more deep research, then one would be led to believe the false narrative that Tillerson is desirous to leave his post, to leave this administration when the exact opposite is true. He believes in this administration and is committed to his position in it.
Oct. 4th, 2017 05:54 pm (UTC)
You're completely right. It's true that liberal leaning pages can be about as distorted as the conservative ones (I already get enough liberal views so I never visit those). However, the problem is that the folks in the majority, many of whom are supporters of that conservative position, are holding a particular opinion that is helping get some citizens killed, or jailed, or unable to get jobs, or unable to buy homes, get business loans, in short are having a severely negative impact on a significant portion of the population. I'm not saying that rumors about Rex Tillerson aren't important, but this isn't a tit-for-tat circumstance we're dealing with, and that's another part of the tale.

I fear that Net Neutrality is going to be an even bigger tool for those people who are already being diminished to have even less of a voice, less of a say and to become invisible victims as fewer and fewer people will be willing or even able to speak for them. The parade will march on and those folks will be the confetti swept into the gutter.

And really, just as we, in Western Civilization, have come to see children rebelling against their parents as a kind of rite of passage, are we simply going to accept that people will fall into whatever group they believe in and that is where they will stay, never listening to anything contradictory? All of this feels very unsafe and inhumane, with the potential for abuse off the charts.
Oct. 5th, 2017 08:31 pm (UTC)
Part of the issue, again, is that discussion is so rare these days. People post a link to a page or an article or a quote, and readers either feel "yeah, me too" in response or tend to interpret it as a shot across the bow. Often because the thing posted is fairly strong in tone, rather than being worded for consideration.

But I do agree that, especially for those who do discourse well and courteously, it is extremely important to attempt to discuss and keep everyone thinking. There is a reason Leonard Pitts is a nationally-syndicated Op-Ed columnist. He is able to discuss difficult things reasonably, and with an eye toward listening to and understanding those who do not agree with him. That thoughtfulness (as in, contemplative tone)... once in a while, it has the gift of making other people contemplative as well.

I hope you'll keep up the good fight as well, whether at Facebook or other places where your voice makes a difference.
Oct. 5th, 2017 09:28 pm (UTC)
This is very true. A lot of what passes for "discussion" is someone telling someone else that they're wrong with or without reasons and/or ad hominem attacks. But in this "you're with me or against me" atmosphere that we're now residing in, nobody seems terribly interested in an actual conversation. And this is only getting more pronounced as we go because everyone is getting more entrenched in the positions they feel are right and, to a certain degree are finding that these positions define who they are, so any criticism of the issue becomes a criticism of the person.

I feel like we are collectively traveling in an airplane. Something bad has happened and we are possibly going to crash. There is a moment when even the pilot can do nothing to stop that from happening. But then again, the pilot seems to be heading us into a steep dive. But some of the passengers have parachutes, so they're less worried. I hope my vision simply that, and isn't an actual metaphor for where we are now.

As always, thanks for your kind words and support. At least for now, I'm still a LiveJournaler!
Oct. 14th, 2017 10:10 pm (UTC)
I've enjoyed reading your post but as its getting quite late at night I don't have anything wise to say as a comment! except - never give up discussing and fighting for what you believe in. x
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