Archive for August, 2018

Social Media Poison

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

So, I’ve quit Twitter. How quit? Requested my archive, deleted my account quit. All my accounts – old ones, like Nonsense Industry & Give Me Fuel, my public one, and my private one. All gone.

Why?

Two major reasons:

  1. The people on the service. Yes, there are some wonderful ways that Twitter provides an outlet for marginalized voices, and real-time coverage of events in a way that hasn’t been possible before. I will miss those things. But the problem is that Twitter also enables and incentivizes a brutal hyper-aggressive toxicity and mob mentality that … well, it doesn’t provide me with anything. I’ve been caught up in the internet outrage mobs in the past. I’ve felt the thrill of being able to join in, yelling at someone doing something stupid. And I don’t need it. More, once it became really obvious that this was what Twitter is cultivating, I definitely needed it even less. But there was at least some tradeoff – marginalized voices, grist for the outrage machine.
  2. The company. @jack runs a poisonous company because he has no morality. Morality isn’t what you believe. It’s how you act. And the way Twitter acts is as though they highly value Nazis, Gamergaters, other hate mobs, and they don’t value the victims of those mobs. For a long time, I handwaved it away as part of the “well, things come with some good and some bad,” until Gamergate, which initially drove me off Twitter in disgust. Then there was the election, and their continued support of the “President”. And then there were the Nazis. And yeah, you know, when you’re talking about a company that supports Nazis and gives them a platform, and supports Alex Jones/InfoWars/Breitbart/etc. and gives them a platform, you haven’t just gone a little overboard, you’ve completely lost sight of what it means to be a decent human being.

And I don’t want any part of it. I will miss pithy little exchanges, sure. I’ll miss being exposed to some really interesting, timely, and unique voices. I’ll miss weird little mostly-passive interactions with friends who are too far away to see regularly. That sucks. But there has to be something better than this shit. And having run some online communities, a community is what the company enforces. The behavior you get is the behavior you allow, and there isn’t a way to maintain a community that isn’t toxic shit without having a set of enforcement guidelines and values that stem from believing something about the kind of community you want.

And not enforcing anything – taking the “free speech” route as a cop-out, is making a statement. The statement is that you don’t value the voices of the victims. You believe that Nazi mobs, gamer manbabies, and the like have the right to harass and threaten innocent people – sometimes because of their gender, sometimes because they said something that made you feew a widdle sad. And that shit doesn’t fly.

The thing is, once I articulated that to myself, and said, “This is what I believe,” a lot of other online things became less tenable for me to participate in. I think Facebook is fundamentally, fatally flawed because they will never act as a social network that connects people, they will always act as an advertising company that is targeting you. That’s their business model. That’s what they do, and it’s reflected in how they treat your “private” information, all the way down to a foundational level. They pitch you fake news because that’s how they make money. That’s their Unique Selling Proposition is that they can target you with propaganda better than anything else in history, and if that isn’t fucked up, I don’t know what is.

Reddit? Ugh. There are parts of Reddit that are amazing, and there are parts that are the absolute worst the internet has to offer. I don’t want to give up the amazing, but holy shit, if I could have even the slightest impact on the negative shit that it hosts, I feel like I have to quit it. And on and on and on. Quora, which ostensibly is a Q&A site – big chunks of it are clearly just Russian propagandists trying to stir up shit, and Quora doesn’t stop it because it drives engagement. So at some point, I have to ask myself, “Where is the line?” and then actually act as though I have a belief about what it means for a company to host toxic shit.

So. Yeah. How are you?