If the last two years have taught us anything it’s that our liberty is not nearly as safe as we thought it was. Books are being banned by both sides of the political aisle -and not just in the classroom but from Amazon and all the other major providers as well. Information is suppressed both through outright censorship and “soft-censorship” as well, like suppression on social media and YouTube, delisting in Google, and so on.
We were once told these things are totally automated algorithms that learn from our behavior and try to supply us the best of the content what we want -but we all know that’s bullshit now, right?
My number one guiding principle in life is that I must always be able to make up my own mind, make my own decisions, and live by my own values. But I can’t stay true to my principles if I lack the ability to go find the information that I need to inform my decisions and beliefs. And this is the danger in allowing platforms, algorithms, and their interested parties, between us and the sources of the information that shapes our reality.
My second guiding principle is to assume that while “people” are generally good, some people are not and are always ready to take advantage of weakness and ignorance. If there’s a potential vulnerability, someone is already taking advantage of it. And I look around at our modern world today and see nothing but vulnerabilities being sold to us (and forced on us). The most insidious of which is clearly the attention-absorbing, mental-health destroying, toxic relationship between algorithms, click-bait, and the human attention span.
And the fact that the state has deeply infiltrated big tech and is using it as a proxy for illegal, state-based censorship and squashing of dissent is now just par for the course. Because of all of these things, we need new ways of getting the information we want / need, and promoting the work of the independent creators bringing it to us. Or do we?
Surely there are strategies for sharing secret / sacred / contraband information that preexisted the Internet. I know that most of us have not practiced these dark arts of direct communication in many years, or perhaps ever in our life, but perhaps the old counterculturists can show us the way -the hippies, hackers, zine makers, and bloggers.
We used to support each other’s work by promoting and sharing it because we were passionate advocates for the things we supported. It’s not that we’re any less passionate these days; it’s that we’ve all built our personal networks through various platforms which are, more and more, coming under the control of the state and the national intelligence apparatus. And besides that being absolutely terrifying, it’s just frankly a pain in the ass because they want us all focused on their fear-mongering bullshit instead of pursuing our interests, hobbies, and passions.
But fuck them, right?
It’ll take a little practice to get back into the habit of compiling your favorite sources manually, making time to go through and read / listen / watch / etc your favorite creators, individually, instead of through convenient platforms bent on influencing your reality to manufacture consent.
And we’ll have to be more attentive about promoting the things we consume that we find valuable, both on and off digital platforms. This is what people used to talk about…this is how we shared information…
“Oh hey, did you read that article about X the other day? I have it somewhere…” instead of, “Have you heard about X? Go look at your feed, it’s all over social media…”
It’s a simple switch. We just have to retrain ourselves. For my part, I’ve added a “Recommended Reading” section to the sidebar on my website, which I hope everyone takes the time to browse. These are some of my favorite creators and I highly recommend their work.
I’m also going to start compiling all the articles, books, videos, etc. that I consume each week, or maybe bi-weekly -I’m not sure yet- and publishing a post with links and a little blurb about what I found interesting about them and sending that out to my email list.
And, of course, I might as well share more content on social media directly that I’m consuming for my own reasons, when it makes sense. But, long-term, we need better options than reliance on social media. It makes sense to me to find the way forward by going back to where we were when this train went off the tracks originally…
…back before social media had us all trained like Pavlov’s good little boys and girls to spread state-based propaganda, we still managed to create, find, and share our work and our passions. I want to read more blogs, subscribe to more Rumble channels, follow more people on Telegram. I want an RSS reader full of my favorite people’s work.
And we’ll have to get better about having our conversations in blog comments, small forums, and little communities. Because that’s what social media and the digital age have stolen from us and co-opted into “influencer marketing”. We just want to find cool stuff and share it with the people we like, and maybe talk about it together. The rest of social media is unnecessary nonsense.
If what I’m saying resonates with you then, by all means, share it on social media but please, take the time to go a step further and reply in the comments and / or to tell a friend about it one-to-one.
If you’re a creator, reach out with your stuff and tell me about it. I’ll check it out and maybe you’ll gain a new advocate. If you like my stuff, please consider giving me a recommendation somewhere on your site. Let’s take back our power from the platforms by rebuilding our communities, link by link, personal connection by personal connection.
Welcome to the future.
Featured image: Dream Catcher by pin100