Our social dilemma

Facebook, Monika Lewinsky and digital detox

Frances Haugen’s testimony affirms what we have known all along - that Facebook is indeed damaging girls' body image, dividing the nation, and allowing extremism to thrive. And worse, that they know it, and choose to largely ignore the problem to protect its profits.

It’s calling my already tortured relationship with social media into question. I appreciate its benefits and know it is a necessary and critical access point for many. At times it has helped us build community and organize power in response to the many crises we are navigating. But I cannot deny how it also makes me feel like shit and become a version of myself I don’t like very much.

Lack of oversight and accountability is dangerous and clearly damaging for us on personal and political levels. It demands that we be critical and conscious about our personal engagement in the platform so as not to fall prey to their tactics and be complicit in perpetuating them. But it is also exposes a real need for oversight and regulation to reduce harm and prevent further division. And better, an imagining of new ways to connect, organize and mutually support one another.

But Haugen also gives us hope. “We can have social media we enjoy, that connects us, without tearing apart our democracy, putting our children in danger and sowing ethnic violence around the world”.

It's OK to admit that in 2021, our society might need social media, especially in a time when physical interaction is less safe. But that doesn't mean we need Facebook (or Mark Zuckerberg).

Kerri (she/her)

Art by Mediakix

  1. Frances Haugen has confirmed our worst fears. facebook knows how to make its platforms safer, but puts its “astronomical profits” over the safety and wellbeing of its users. [click to tweet]

  2. Who needs to organize the far-right when facebook will do it for you? Micah Sifry breaks down the facebook debacle and where we go from here. [click to tweet]

  3. Monika Lewinksy weighing in about social media, cancel culture and everything else. The activist and producer reflects on how the internet and social media have changed since her 1998 saga. [click to tweet]

  4. When people are shut out of a supposedly democratic process, they have no choice but to agitate. The ugly truth about the Kristen Sinema bathroom protest. [click to tweet]

  5. Who gets the privilege of being paranoid? For a Black Muslim woman in America, surveillance is no conspiracy. [click to tweet]

We need to reign in big tech’s power through divestment, regulation and

DIVEST:

According to our friends at Beautiful trouble, a divestment campaign is an effective way to apply economic pressure on an industry or state that is profiting from injustice and destruction. On November 10th, people around the world are logging out of facebook to demonstrate people power. But it only works when there is critical mass. We need everyone.

BREAK UP MONOPOLIES:

Mark Zuckerberg’s power is unparalleled and unprecedented. We already have the tools we need to check the domination of Facebook. It’s time to breakup facebook.

DIGITAL DETOX:

  • Clear your feed, clear your mind: Disable push notifications, limit your time online and unfollow accounts that don’t serve you.

  • Be real: Try to get your feed to be as close to real life as possible.

  • Just say no. If you’re feeling exploited, you probably are. Set clear boundaries for engagement that serve your mental health.

  • Log off: Schedule days/times to be device free.

Art by @thesocialdilemma

Twitter and facebook bring out the worst in us. Not always, but often. In 2020, the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, revealed how tech companies are exploiting our mental health for profit. Aside from the obvious (social media increases social comparison which can lead to lower self esteem), social media can be used to undermine free will. In 2014, facebook researchers revealed they were secretly experimenting on users to change their emotions by altering the content in their feeds. And it worked. People who were shown more negative posts became more negative and people who were shown more positive posts became more positive. This trend, called neuromarketing, allows tech companies to not just predict your behavior but decide it for you so that they can sell certainty to advertisers. We can’t just let technology run our lives. We have to make conscious decision, set boundaries and push for regulation that limit the reach of big tech on our bodies and minds.

Content by @thesocialdilemma

We love the ways social media has kept us connected across distance. But real life is where it’s at and we cannot wait for our next CTZN Meetup on October 21st (7ET) where we’ll be talking about “Making Beautiful Trouble”. Register here!

Art by @oliviaherrickdesign


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