More Like Social Media and Us

And that’s what makes the end of 2017 stand out so much to me, because it was during this time where I read article after article about how negative social media as a whole is for people. That’s general people, meaning all of us. Social networks are not good, and have not been designed to be good for you. Sure, you could cherry pick arguments all day long, but there’s simply not been a compelling case made for these networks being good.

-Benjamin Brooks, Social Media, and Me

Mr. Brooks’s post touched on a few things that I have been thinking through over the past few months. In mid-December, I wrote I guess I’m back, which came from a feeling of failure at having come back to Facebook, but in the end was a resolution to put the antisocial norms of social media1 out of my mind and find the root of how social media could be a powerful vehicle for creation. In particular, I stated:

I hope to cut the general noise and get to the heart of what social media can produce because, in the end, social media should be a creation engine.

But it is more than that, I basically deleted my Facebook account and was drawn back in by people; not posts, not news but personal connections to people. The reason Ben points to for keeping Tweetbot installed on one device is to allow for communication with those that use that medium for personal connections. Neither Ben nor I are here to judge those who use given services, no matter our feelings on the matter. Instead, we are both looking for ways to reduce noise to focus on things that should matter more.

Something I have been struggling with recently is the math behind media consumption, a point that Ben makes in his post as well. There is no way to create time for all types of media in a single day, let alone all the options within a single type of media. Humans need to be deliberate with how they spend their time given the finite amount of it we have. I didn’t mean that to come across as existential, but take it as you will.

I calculate that I have somewhere around three hours a day that I can give to any form of media. That number fluctuates depending on the day of the week or the items in my calendar. Three hours to decide if I want to zone out on a scrolling list of nothing important or focused on well-researched information or in conversation with a friend or family member. The key in that statement though is just how endless the possibilities are in our day-to-day lives. Access and a general hoarder mentality has basically ruined us.

Feel free to disagree if you would like, but I will quote Mr. Brooks again from above: Sure, you could cherry pick arguments all day long, but there’s simply not been a compelling case made for these networks being good.”

  1. My argument of late has been that social media is actually more about being antisocial than anything else. A Facebook post that says, Thank you” or announcing a child’s birth is likened to sending a Thank You card or birth announcement in the mail, but in the end we have removed what makes those former social norms personal, the effort in creating and maintaining personal connections. Because when you have hundreds or thousands of friends”, do you really have any at all?

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

What Are WE Doing?

I wrote a post late last week about my discomfort with staying at home. My outlets are normally work, hiking, biking, and working with people. I am privileged enough to be working from home and still be able to bike and walk around my neighborhood in safety. So damn my discomfort.

I put the post up and immediately took it down, angry with myself for posting about me, when others deserve our attention, my voice. I am here now to rectify that wrong.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, the day church goers celebrate the introduction of the Holy Spirit into the disciples. My family has been attending my father’s church in Chicago, IL virtually during the pandemic. If you are interested in the sermon, go here. Key highlight:

And nowhere do WE need this transformation more than in the Church. The Church in America that has been silent for too long because it has been infected too long. The Church has called itself pro-life, but it has regularly supported the politics of death. The Church has been satisfied with the status quo because the status quo has served its purposes and goals. The Church that has more concern for its structures than the structural inequities in the community. The Church maintains an outward appearance of godliness and holiness, but denies its power. The Church is so focused on life in the hereafter that it cannot bother itself with life here and now. The Church has chosen comfort over honest confession and safety over the least of these, our siblings.

I was struck by the moment of silence at the beginning of the service. Cultures use moments of silence to memorialize, to commemorate, to mourn and show respect, but I don’t feel like being silent. I feel like being loud and amplifying others who have been forced for too long to be silent.

I broke my silence on Twitter; it had been almost a year. I want to use that avenue to amplify the voices of those who shouldn’t need amplification by now. In 2020, WE shouldn’t need to be having this conversation because in 2020 WE should have fixed this problem. In 2020, WE should be talking about how to rewrite the history books to better exemplify the work of all the missing voices of the civil rights movement that most white people have never heard of, an act so mundane as rewriting history books is something you do when the work is done.

I hope people have been following Bernice King during this time because she is truly wonderful in every way. She and many others have called on white people to use their voice with other white people. Note these two great examples (and my apologies that I cannot give every person a voice after this colon): Bernice King and Ava DuVernay.

These things start at home; this change starts from within. It is our responsibility white people to talk to those that agree and those that disagree. Only WE white people have the platform that might actually MOVE those racist family members to deal with their own racism, only WE white people have the position to TURN UP THE VOLUME WITH THOSE who are ignored or silenced, only WE white people have the privilege (and therefore responsibility) to stand up when others are battered down and to STAND BETWEEN THOSE WHO ARE BEATEN DOWN AND THAT WHICH THREATENS THEM.

The following are some of the tools that WE white people have to work with that you should note not everyone has: time, money, voice, vote, safety, security, strength, freedom, power, platform, citizenship, support, energy, rest, access (to health care and food, for instance), inherent—yet almost always unearned—trust.

Parents, WE have one of the hardest and most important jobs in all of this: only WE have the ability to teach our children a better way.

My six year old has more context for injustice than my wife ever did growing up in suburban America and that is the problem. My daughter (and my two sons) will grow up knowing that these systems are broken; that they are strong enough to stand in solidarity with their siblings of color against the systems of oppression that work to marginalize and destroy; that they have a responsibility to fight due to their inherited privilege purchased with blood money on the backs of those same people they will fight with and for; that WE therefore owe our siblings of color everything WE can give.

Black Lives Matter. Black People Matter.

Let’s get to work.