Sitting Ducks on Social Media

I’ve been debating with myself about what to write before our momentous general election next week.  (Debating with oneself is dangerous; one always loses.)  There’s a lot going on, and much of it has been squelched by the media, especially the Hunter Biden influence-peddling story.  My fellow South Floridian Glenn Greenwald is the latest victim of this broad based cover-up.   As they said in Watergate times, the cover-up was worse than the crime…

In any case leading the pack with this are the major social media companies.  Twitter of course locked the New York Post out of their feed entirely because they ran this exposé on the subject.  Facebook has smothered the story, albeit with more subtlety.  It’s hard to imagine a time when our elites have acted in such lockstep with each other, but they have, and really it shouldn’t be surprising.

But let’s get back to social media.  I’ve been doing this website thing for more than twenty years now.  When it all started I was under the impression that the web was a place for an open exchange of views and ideas with wide reach and low overhead.  No where was that more evident than the “blogosphere,” which drove the web in the early years of the millennium.

Having started with static websites, I was admittedly slow in transitioning to that format.  This site led the pack with an interactive format in 2005 and WordPress in 2006.  By then social media–at the time MySpace–was getting started.  I was slow in getting there too, not going on YouTube until 2008 and Twitter and Facebook the following year.  (Linkedin came much later, but that’s really a topic all its own.)  Much of what drove that was to keep up with the goings on in my church; that ended with my job at same going away in 2010.

I’ve been active on social media ever since.  It was especially useful during the years I worked on my PhD and really didn’t have time to do this and my other sites justice.  But there’s always been something about it that has bothered me, and that’s the simple fact that the content you put there really isn’t your own.  Do you hold copyright to it?  What happens when they don’t either like some of your content, all of your content, or just don’t like you any more?  Does everything just go away?  Those considerations and more have held me back from going “full bore” with social media, especially Facebook.

All of these fears have been realized, not necessarily for me but for others.  It’s become evident that, for those of us who really think for ourselves (as opposed to those who think they do,) social media is a risky place, and you need to build some provision into your plan to disseminate your content without it.  This is something churches in particular need to pay attention to; they’ve become addicted to social media during the pandemic, it would be a tragedy if they were cut off without a Plan B.

For me, the first place I bailed on was Facebook, for reasons I explained here.  I’m still on Twitter but taking a low profile these days.  I’m most active on YouTube; the migration of my music pieces has had good results but was a move done mostly out of necessity.

But there are upsides too.  All of my sites save one are in blog format, and they’re doing well.  After something of a dry spell, I’m seeing more interest in following blogs again.  The biggest challenges are the capricious search engines, especially the One That Cannot be Named.  There are alternatives but it is, as it was for Chairman Mao, a long march.

It’s one we need to make.  Twitter’s Jack Dorsey basically told Congress this week that, if people couldn’t get their stuff on Twitter, they could go elsewhere.  We should take him up on that.  We need to stop being poker-playing dogs on social media, because when we are we’re sitting ducks.  How or when we get shot depends upon who wins next Tuesday, but there’s no sense in making it easy for them.

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