I Know How to Vote, Facebook

What Sign of the Apocalypse is it that we require our button-apps and time-waster devices to remind us that there’s an election coming up? Why isn’t this something I can turn off?

It’s everywhere, Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Twitter. The oligarchy is as One reminding me that I need to Register to Vote.

Never mind the fact that I’ve been registered to vote since the Internet consisted of whatever you could get Prodigy to suck through your phone line. Never mind the fact that I registered myself like a big boy, using paper and writing implements. Never mind the fact that I’ve never missed an election. This is apparently information that the Lords of the Universe don’t have access to. Which I suppose is something to be grateful for, because the perfect seamless incorporation into the Matrix has not yet occurred. But still, why can’t they just leave me to it? Why is it Social Media’s responsibility to Get Out the Vote?

There is an illusion, deeply felt, that Corporations are Entities that can Do Good. That they have Moral Responsibilities. I’m less interested in arguing about whether this is true (the legal fiction of corporate personhood aside, a company is just a group of people working together to make money. People have moral lives and responsibilities, corporations do not), than in pondering what this means about our culture. The dull exhortation to Do The Thing, conditioning our hindbrain that the Thing is Important, preventing us from ordering the Thing to our own life. Instead, we slap the button like so many descalped rats just to stop the irritation.

But surely. Elections are Important. How can you dispute this?

They seem to be. There’s a whole lot of noise surrounding them. There’s a sense of Sublime Victory or Traumatizing Defeat for one set or another. And yet, somehow, the winners never seem to get what they vote fore, nor the losers, what they vote against. Somehow neither side ever delivers that Square Deal, that Great Society, that New American Revolution supposedly on offer. Somehow no electoral victory ever translates into that heavenly Mandate to actually give the American people something that they ask for. All that seems to happen is one side or another gets to sign a bunch of orders, spend a bunch of money (which is promptly created for that purpose), make incremental changes to this or that pre-existing regulatory thicket, and the beat goes on. And if you spend enough time at the trough, you retire a millionaire.

You know, now that I think on it, maybe social media is just the right place for this circus. Sure, someone who only bothered registering to vote because the blinky screen told them to is probably the last person you’d want making decisions as to our leaders. But if our leaders don’t actually make decisions, then no one can do much harm. Democracy with Gutter Bumpers – What Could Go Wrong?

The Only Argument That Matters is Performance

This may sounds like the typical lament of social media, but I got into an argument yesterday that bored me. It was about history, and it involved an alternative history theory I’ve communicated in a number of ways. And I don’t mind the fact that people disputed it. Good points were made.

What bothers me was the ones who missed the point, and made unjustified claims to argue irrelevant points. Yes, Allzu Menslich, but do I need to expend the energy on refuting it? What am I losing be engaging in it? Will my refutation change anyone’s mind. To ask is to answer.

What changes people’s minds is their perceptions of reality, not argument. Argument, however carefully constructed, is just words, and they won’t get through someone’s fundamental worldview. Natural skepticism of being led down the primrose path via sophistry comes to bear whenever worldview is challenged. That’s simply how human brains work.

What changes people’s minds is what they can see happening in front of their faces. Doing changes minds, talking doesn’t. The Generals of the Prussian Army resisted hard against the introduction of breech-loading steel cannon. Then the Franco-Prussian War happened.

What I’m getting at is a general distrust of gabbing as opposed to an embrace of action. That doesn’t mean I’m planning on shutting up, just that I’m done trying to persuade people. You won’t see the Truth until you see it.

We Have to Be Liked

Bret Easton Ellis, writing in his essay collection White, on the social-corporate demand of inclusivity:

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their very first corporation. Facebook encouraged its users to “like” things, and because this platform is where they branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, their umpulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of themselves — or or a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And this is where the twin ideas of likability and “relatability” were born, which together began to reduce all of us, ultimately, to a neutered clockwork orange, enslafed to yet another corporate version of the status quo. To be accepted, we had to follow an upbeat morality code under which everything had to be liked and everybody’s voice had to be respected, and anyone who held negative or unpopular opinions that weren’t inclusive — in other words, a simple dislike — would be shut out of the conversation and ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective were often hurled at the supposed troll, to the poitn where the original “offense” or “transgression” or “insensitive dickish joke” or “idea” seemed negligible by comparison. In the new post-Empire age we’re accustomed to rating TV shows, Restaurants, video games, books, even doctors, and we mostly give positive reviews because nobody wants to look like a hater. And even if you aren’t one, that’s what you’re labeled as if you steer away from the herd.

I like this because it’s a take obverse from the usual complaint about the internet and social media: a festering boil of rage and uncouthery. I myself have described Twitter as “both the tape recorder and the riot”. But this suggests that really everything is pushing the other way, as social media purges those lacking social credit, as the Chinese put it. Skynet turned out to be far more seductive than we thought.

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Click here for link.

Facebook Should Be Broken Up, Company Co-Founder Says

Chris Hughes, who co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg and others 15 years ago when they were students at Harvard, believes the federal government should dismantle the extraordinarily powerful social-media giant. In a 5,700-word New York Times op-ed piece published Thursday, Hughes argued that Zuckerberg holds “unchecked power” that is “unprecedented and un-American.” “Mark is a…

via Variety

I’m fine with this. The libertarian in me dislikes the notion of the government smashing companies with a hammer, seemingly as punishment for their success, but the more primitive mind says “Facebook isn’t my friend”. Principles of liberty are not a suicide pact.

How to Remove Facebook From Your Life

Full Disclosure: This article on Medium is by the official account of Gab, the free-speech Social Network that grew up in the aftermath of the first round of Twitter going after conservatives. So, they’re not exactly a neutral observer, and if you don’t care about free-speech for people you don’t like, then you might find the opening paragraph tendentious.

However, it has useful information about what you can do to get control of your data, including pictures and links. It also has the Holy Grail, the actual Deletion of your Facebook account.

For my part, I don’t use Facebook very much (following the article’s suggestion, I saw the app page, and found precisely 4 active apps, one of which I decided to cull.

But you might find it useful, so I’m passing it along. (H/T: Ace of Spades)

View at Medium.com

 

One Must Engage to Get “Engagement”

At least, that’s the practical upshot of this otherwise jargon-free article about using Facebook to increase your awareness. Useful in that it advocates not trying to make Facebook into something it isn’t.

Facebook is an absolutely amazing platform to build and grow your business. What’s even better than that? It’s absolutely free to use! The problem I see all the time, however, is most people who are using it to build their home-based businesses are doing it ALL WRONG! I used to be one of those people…until […]

via 9 Ways To Get Insane Facebook Engagement — Create Success With Lisa

Everything You Idiots Care About is Stupid

AKA, Reflections Appropriate to Any Time Spend on Twitter

I hate your stupid opinions.

I hate reading them. I hate hearing you express them. I hate the way you just repeat things you’ve heard. I hate the way you never pause to examine if anything you’re repeating is true.

I hate the way Social Media has made us dumber. I used to read the newspaper when I was a kid. Mostly the Washington Post, mostly the editorial section, because even in my youth I had intuited that the “news” was a bowdlerized version meant to be shoehorned into a narrative by the crusading Journalists who pretended to speak Truth to Power while actually speaking MiniTruth to everyone else. That meant I read some people who I agreed with, and some I disagreed with.

But I read it, in silence, with no expectation of doing anything with it other than integrate it into my thinking. I didn’t run around the house or neighborhood letting everyone else no my opinion of it. I didn’t assume anyone cared for my particular take of Colbert King’s column.

Today, that would be done by Re-Tweeting it to everyone who “followed” me, with some manner of “sick own” or cretinous applause, such as “This!” or “READ THE WHOLE THING.” I wouldn’t be reading it to read it, but to decide whether it was Of My Sort or not, and make a big deal about it accordingly.

Social media has turned us all into bad journalists. And there were already plenty of those.

So, no, your reaction to the President’s last tweet, or the Olympics, or whether Black Panther is the GREATEST THING SINCE THE LUMIERE BROTHERS INVENTED CINEMA, or whatever one media clown said to another media clown, is not important. It won’t add anything. It does not create, it will not enlighten. It doesn’t exist on its own. It’s just a shout in a noisy room.

And it’s making you angry, and it’s feeding the devil you most want to crack down on. Because you get more of what you pay attention to.

And just in case you decide I’m not practicing what I’m preaching, understand that I could write a nice rant about the Olympics if I wanted to, because there’s very few things I detest as much as the Olympics. Watching the Olympics is about as much fun as watching… other people ski and ice skate.

Let that sink in.

And of course, you have to hear about their inspiration Life Stories first. As if I’m supposed to be interested that some derp had to get up early to practice flinging himself down a mountainside. I assume you have to practice to be good enough for the Olympics.

To say nothing of the fact that the costs of hosting these tedious games can bankrupt cities:

But honestly, I already don’t feel like saying anything else about it. I don’t want to argue with people who want to wonder how in the name of Cheese and Rice the Chinese judge couldn’t give the South Korean girl full points for landing that triple salchow. I don’t want to listen to you tell me “Figure Skating is too a sport, rather than a subjectively-scored performance art!”

I. Do. Not. Care.

And if I spend time arguing about it, I will have to care. I will have to come up with a tendentious definition of “sport” specifically rendered to exclude people who have trained their lives away to do something incredibly difficult that I’ve never even considered attempting.

Is that an addition to anyone’s lives?

No.

So let’s all consider not sharing. Not re-tweeting. Not owning, or applauding, or cross-posting, meme-ing or swiping right.

Let’s try reading, and thinking. Let’s try doing. Let’s try keeping the noise down.

Now get off my lawn.

Writing Apps and Social Media – Some Recent Experiences

And by “recent” I of course mean “yesterday”

Less recently, I took Facebook off my phone. It just takes up too much data space, and I tire of scrolling through it. This doesn’t mean that Facebook is “dead” to me, but it does mean that I will be using it less frequently. The charm of it was mostly in the novelty, and that has mostly gone.

But the lack of it did make me wonder if there’s a social media experience I could be missing. Twitter is a battlefield, and like drinking from a fire hose more often than not. Tumblr is much the same. I wanted something … different.

So yesterday I looked at the social media apps on the App Store, and I came across Ello. Ello became a thing last year, and it seemed utterly precious in my eyes. But the copy promised a space for creative endeavors, a place to make and share things rather than to dimly snark at each other. That seemed the cure for what ailed me, so I downloaded it.

It’s already a better experience. I joined the writers group and happened upon a fellow by the name of Lee Williams posting a short story link, Hope is a Venetian RugI liked the cover art, so I followed it. The story was pretty good, but it also led me to the writing/publishing app he had it on, Tablo.

Tablo allows you to write something on your phone, publish it to the wider community, and even put on the Apple iBooks store and Amazon (in exchange for a 20% commission on the sales price of your book. Which is not bad). The phone app is simple and useful, and the web site is even better. I can work on something while I’m putting the baby to sleep, or any other point I have down time.

There’s another app I’ve been using, Werdsmith, which I’ve found useful for sketching ideas (it distinguishes between ideas and projects, which have word goals). Tablo is for when you have a definite story coming out, and you want to focus on getting it out.

So here’s my flagship efforts for the new site:

  • The Little Guerrilla Platoons, a short story about a man’s vengeance on his homeowner’s association (and the fat slob who runs it)
  • The Party at the Last Tomorrow, a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk novella that’s been taking up brain space for a while now.

Watch this space for publishing details.

Authors: Social Media Will Not Bring You an Audience.

It will help you keep an audience when you’ve got one.

That’s not what this post at Book Designer starts to say, but that’s what they end up concluding. The lede is buried here:

Your key to more followers isn’t posting more frequently or having more conversations. Nor is it constantly checking your feeds to see who said what.

A readership develops because they have something to value and talk about. The best way to accomplish that is to give them more fiction. Writing good stories, as always, should remain your top priority.

Good storytelling will lead to a fan base, and then social media will start returning results. You’ll see more links, retweets, and likes. Your voice will start circulating and your reach will expand.

Joel has even proposed not significantly investing in blogging until you have a readership. I think that makes a lot of sense.

Suggestion: Work on your craft, refine your voice, polish and publish. That’s what matters most. The better your writing, the better social media will work.

I’ve been operating under the If You Build It, They Will Come idea since I started self-publishing. I’m glad to hear that I’m not out of my mind.