Social media has been a lethal blow to grassroots information sharing by outsiders of the mainstream media and its dogmatic ideologies.
To varying degrees the three major text-based social networks are all guilty of stifling truly subversive writing by individuals through technical and cultural mechanisms which punish independent content creators and reward sharing popular content from a very narrow spectrum of producers and ideas. I will list the three social networks in the order of their offensiveness to outsider content creators.
3. Twitter – The least offensive of the social networks is the one in which popularity and quotable quips seems to organically filter out free thinkers without an embedded attempt to do so. While the algorithmic functions and culture both contribute to some degree of censorship, the rewarding of one-liners really puts Twitter outside practicality for those with complex messages to share. Twitter fails merely by virtue of being entirely reductionist and superficial at its core.
2. Facebook – Facebook is the kind of accidental dystopia you get when rich kids who think they can build utopia on the foundation of capitalist ideology just so happen to ensnare billions of humans in their glad-handing Idiocracy. It is just making the news now, but Facebook has been increasingly limiting the reach of content producers for years. The fact that they started with the underground made it easy to miss, but now that they are also going for mainstream content producers the alarm has gone up. But even when Facebook was not acting as a gatekeeper of content in its reach algorithms, a culture began to form which derided personal content creators from sharing their own work in groups and on their own timelines. Ridicule and bans would follow. Apparently it is okay to promote the superficiality of your day to day life, but not your own personal creative works which you labored over in order to reach other people on a basic human level.
1. Reddit – If Facebook is a screwball accident against self-promotion and grassroots audience building, Reddit is the proud, haughty patrician. In both the technical aspects and cultural ones, Reddit is highly punitive of those who do not use the platform to be robotic reposters of other peoples works or superficial minutiae. It absolutely abhors content creators working from nothing to build an audience, while rewarding the sharing and promotion of the most powerful content providers. There are endless numbers of Reddit hall monitors waiting to suss you out and enforce these site-sustained policies. But even if they did not, it is mostly useless, because any maverick thinking is mostly completely despised by its users. You will be downvoted and ridiculed. Even if you just tried to text post your outsider ideas, you would be ignored, hated to the bottom of the pile, or subjected to the juvenile policing culture and context of the Reddit medium itself. Reddit is a rabid conformist playground.
The math here is pretty simple. If an information system only rewards certain values, than the sum of its content will permit only that which conforms to those values. Over time fewer content providers will be deemed acceptable, and the increasing homogenization will create an echo chamber in which only conformity and groupthink are heard. This is already the case, and the evidence is not conspiratorial. Social media openly admits to its proclivity to reward only specific types of use and to restrict and punish others, which buries outsiders who must self promote to make even the smallest splash against the major content producers who have armies of constantly re-affirmed (like/upvote) reposters.
The message of the social media giants against independent content producers who do not work within the narrow framework of popular, acceptable and ‘expert approved’ ideas is this:
You are just a little person. You have nothing to contribute. Either aid our echoes or obsess on your stupid, unapproved ideas alone. Do not attempt to make meaningful contributions. You are nobody, so act like it and silently follow the experts like everybody else.
This is how you end up in some kind of dystopia envisioned by Orwell, Huxley, Dick or Ballard. When fresh ideas are drowned out by culture and technology alike, the pool of thought becomes stale, and soon totalitarianism arises to keep it from ever stirring again. Social media is empowering the most virulent strains of ideological dystopia possible by punishing writers like yours truly instead of rewarding the small folk and their crazy outsider ideas; the latter being how things look in an actual open and progressive society.
When technological communication mediums embed the competition, reward, profit, restriction and punishment systems of authoritarian capitalism in their workings they become hyper-accelerators towards the most nightmarish outcomes. So it is a damn good thing that you can just walk away from them peacefully and disempower them through disuse.
just walk away
you can just walk away
you can just walk away from them