Social Media Over 50 Part II
I cut my Internet teeth on forums, before social media was popular among the middle aged. On the forums - I was always drawn to conspiracy or alternative ideas - the people weren’t nice, but the ideas were explored. On the forums, it was no big deal to be called an asshat, a moron, or an idiot, and people took it in stride.
I also had a freelance position at a now defunct Internet newspaper. I wrote under my own name and scoured the back pages of Google to give enough information to help the reader consider a different view than the one on the mainstream media. Something changed though, a change of administrations, and suddenly those back pages began disappearing.
Sites that I used to rely on to give and share the local news from their hometowns began being censored. I suppose the new word is shadow banned, but in reality their sites were just shut down due to a myriad of reasons, and then even on the back pages of searches you’d still find the same approved articles that were on the front page. It began to be harder and harder to do my little, unpaid, freelance job.
On the forums, and lots of sites I used to visit you could be anonymous, which I found led to greater truth. You could speak your experience, without fear of censor, and pick out a cute picture (or a terrifying one), and give yourself a name, but then the media began pushing the bullying aspect, and the anonymous thing began to disappear.
Even though I had read the books about fascist societies, I was shocked to see it happening in real life, in my lifetime. Suddenly you had to register on a site, and use your real name, give your phone number, and the real time information flow began to slow down. I remember watching videos of happenings in this place or the other and the video would disappear, cut from the flow in real time – censored. Suddenly, people could proclaim that an idea, thought, or fact was offensive and it was gone in minutes.
I quit writing for that international paper shortly after a change of administrations. In one I could tell the truth as I saw and researched it, but in the other I understood I could no longer do that, it simply wasn’t worth the risk. Around that time social media became the big thing among us old folks.
And with social media, we began self-censoring. No longer can you call someone an asshat, and challenge his or her thoughts. On social media, everyone is kind, and those who are not must be mentally ill.
On social media, everyone has a good day. On social media, everyone is beautiful. On social media, we seek validation from our “peers”. On social media, we lose part of ourselves trying to please and impress our “friends”.
Before you call me an asshat, moron, or idiot, which I undoubtedly am, let me state that I am just as guilty as anyone else and that is exactly why I’m writing this blog.