I'm spending a lot less time in social media. Between the flawed algorithms and disrespectful disagreement, the less time I spend in social media, the happier I am.
Some people that I shared my dissatisfaction with have told me that it was my own fault. They said it was my open discussion of politics over the last few years that opened the door. I truly believed in transparency – even political transparency – so I was both proud of my beliefs and defended them over the years. It didn't work out well. So, over the last year I've made a concerted effort to avoid discussing politics online. The fascinating thing is that my detractors are still as vocal as they've ever been. I think they honestly just wanted me to be quiet.
Full disclosure: I'm a political weirdo. I love politics because I love marketing. And my leanings are quite strange. Personally, I hold myself accountable to help make the world a better place. Regionally, I'm quite liberal and appreciate taxation to assist others in need. Nationally, though, I believe we're far overdue for change.
I'm no victim, but the result of my independence opens me up to getting attacked by everyone. My friends that lean left nationally believe I'm a backwoods, right-wing nut job. My friends that lean right locally wonder why the heck I'm hanging out with so many Democrats. And personally, I despise being labeled in any direction. I don't think it's necessary to hate everything about a person or a political ideology if you disagree with one person or aspect of that ideology. In other words, I can appreciate some of the policy changes happening today without respecting the politicians that enacted them.
Back to social networks.
I believed the amazing promise of social media was that we could be honest, inform one another, understand one another, and become closer. Wow, was I wrong. The anonymity of social media combined with the impersonal ability to lash out at people you might otherwise care about is terrible.
Social networks are broken, and the powers that be are making it worse (in my opinion).
- On Twitter, rumor has it that if you're blocked by @williamlegate, you've been identified as a right-wing nut and are shadowbanned – meaning your updates are not displayed in the public stream. I don't know if it's true, but I have noticed that my growth has been rather stagnant. The terrible part of this is that I actually enjoy Twitter. I meet new people, discover amazing stories, and love sharing my content there.
I asked @jack, but in true open fashion – I have yet to hear a response.
Hey @jack, I'm a huge fan of @Twitter and saw I may be #shadowbanned. I'd love you to read through my tweets and tell me what, about my politics, is malicious or disrespectful. Truly disappointed to see this. If you're banning reasonable people like me – that's beyond horrible.
— Douglas Karr (@douglaskarr) January 15, 2018
- On Facebook, they're admitting to now filtering the feed to more personal conversations. This, after years of pushing corporations to build communities, be more transparent in their interaction with consumers and businesses, and companies investing millions into building integrations, automation, and reporting. Facebook just pulled the plug instead.
In my honest opinion, the surreptitious omission of political leanings is more dangerous than the leanings themselves. I have no problem with government spying on social accounts where the accounts have promoted illegal activity, but I have a huge problem with corporations quietly adjusting the debate in a favor they would like. Facebook is even leaving news sources up to a general vote. In other words, the bubble will be more solidified. If a minority disagrees, it doesn't matter – they'll be fed the majority's message anyways.
There Has to Be a Better Social Network
Some people believe that Facebook and Twitter are what we're stuck with. Plenty of networks have tried to compete and all have failed. Well, we said the same thing about Nokia and Blackberry when it came to mobile phones. I have no doubt that a new network can and will dominate the market when it espouses the same freedom that enabled Twitter and Facebook's success.
The issue isn't bad ideology, it's bad manners. We're no longer expected to respectfully disagree with those who we disagree with. Today's expectation is to shame, ridicule, bully, and silence the detractor. Our news stations reflect this behavior. Even our politicians have adopted this behavior.
I'm a big fan of having a diversity of thought. I can disagree with you and still respect your beliefs. Unfortunately, with two parties, we just seem to club one another over the head rather than coming up with a solution in the middle that respects all.
This Has Everything to do With Marketing?
When the mediums (news, search, and social media) are found to be meddling in politics, it impacts every business. It impacts me. I have no doubt that my beliefs have impacted my business. I no longer work for leaders in my industry who I truly looked up to and learned from because they read my opinions on political issues and turned their back.
And now we watch as social justice warriors on each side of the spectrum are holding brands accountable for where they place their advertisements, and what their employees say online. They encourage boycotts… which don't just impact the leaders of businesses, but every employee within and the communities surrounding them. One tweet can now deflate a stock price, hurt business, or destroy a career. I would never want those that disagree with my ideology to be financially punished for theirs. This is too much. This isn't working.
The result of all of this is that businesses are retracting from social media, not embracing it. Businesses are becoming less transparent, not more transparent. Business leaders are hiding their support of political ideologies, not promoting it.
We need a better social network.
We need a system that rewards politeness, redemption, and respect. We need a system that promotes opposing views instead of developing angry echo chambers. We need to educate one another and expose one another to alternative viewpoints. We need to be tolerant of other ideologies.
There's no better time than now to develop a social networking platform like this.