Monday, January 11, 2021

“Social Media”

     What’s that, citizen? You have opinions you’d like to express where others can see them? It’s not that simple anymore. This is the Twenty-First Century. We have procedures today.

     First, you’ll need an expressive-activities permit. You’re in for a long hard slog getting that, my friend. You’ll have to prove you never supported any cause disapproved by our political class, and never opposed any of their institutions. You’ll have to certify that you never, ever voted for a Republican. And of course, you’ll have to swear that you won’t foster any anti-Establishment ideas among your family members, friends, or colleagues.

     But let’s say you get through that set of wickets. Next comes the application phase. That’s right: you must apply for a soap box from which to orate. The three soap-box vendors that currently hold federal licenses are notoriously picky about who they’ll let through their gates. It takes a while for them to reach their verdict, too – and no, you cannot apply to several of them at once.

     And once you’ve acquired a perch from which to opine, that’s not the end of it. Your words will be monitored, to ensure that you remain in compliance with the Terms of Service. They’re quite simple, in comparison to the vague and wordy documents of yesteryear: If we don’t like what you’re saying, we’ll terminate your soap-box privileges. No, there’s no appeal.

     But really, how important to you is the “right” to express yourself? Important enough to jeopardize your employment? Your community relations? The security of your family and property? Give that a long hard ponder, citizen. This is no longer classical Rome, where it was said that “words fly away.” This is the Age of the All-Seeing Eye, whose memory is eternal. Whatever you may say, it will adhere to you forever.

     And We the Watchers only do as we’re told.

     The above is not fiction...not really. It’s more of a prognostication. In some ways it’s a bit of a status report.

     We in the Right have passed the story of the wild pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp back and forth for many years. We thought we knew what it meant. We believed we were on guard. Yet all the while we were being herded into a pen designed not for our bodies but for our speech and our minds.

     Remember blogging? At its peak, there were many millions of active blogs, where the proprietor could say whatever he pleased without fear of “deplatforming.” Those blogs have dwindled to a few bitter-enders. You know: old cranks like your humble Curmudgeon.

     The millions who once blogged freely migrated, lemming-like, into the “social media.” Now those media are chokepoints: institutions that can choke off disapproved news and opinions with little effort and no recourse to him who presents them.

     Freedom of expression may still be the case de jure, but it’s been powerfully inhibited by the tech barons who control the big sites. And nothing much can be done about them. They have the protection of the political Establishment. Unless the multimillions they seduced into their parlors should rebel, exit, and go back to blogs, they will continue to exercise de facto powers of censorship over the communications of Americans.

     So here you are, citizen! What next? How do you plan to cope with the Age of the All-Seeing Eye? Will you remain under its lidless gaze, forever subject to its scrutiny, or will you remove yourself from its vista and head toward freer climes?

     Don’t take too long making up your mind if you want to remain at all free.


Mike Guenther said...

Even blogs aren't safe. Wordpress decides they don't like you, poof, gone.


It's gonna be a long 4/8 years.

Mike Smith said...

Harvard Professor Ted had a lot to say about whats happening in his Magnum Opus "Technological Society and it's Future"

Margaret Ball said...

Never had a Twitter or Facebook account; I'm too asocial for "social media."

You and I are both hosted by Blogger, Francis. Shall we have a little race to see who can get deplatformed first?

Francis W. Porretto said...

I'm planning to move this place to a separate, trustworthy host, Margaret. I hope you, Linda, the Colonel, Historian, and so forth will accompany me when the task is complete.