THE DAY FACEBOOK DIED

The world didn’t end, now what?

It’s hilarious the way Congress is trying to leverage consumers’ revolt against social media when very few of its members even understand how it works. Consider this excerpt from a chapter named “Social Media Menace” in my 2019 book Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs, “You know they sell your data for money, right? That is their business. They let you use their powerful and fast servers for exploitation, not as a measure of good will to the community. They are “for profit” companies and we’re their slave workers, generating free content that maintains and builds their user bases. They keep sucking our souls into folders for sale, again and again.”

You are NOT a customer of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform you use for free. You are simply a stringer, adding content and working for the man without pay. In this case, that man is Mark Zuckerberg. During the fiscal crisis in 2008, we heard the term “too big to fail.” Well, let me introduce a new one, “too big to control.”

Two things during the week amplified this subject for me. An old college buddy sent me a link to a video talk given by Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist, visual artist, computer philosophy writer, technologist, futurist, and composer of contemporary classical music. Mr. Lanier is the founder of virtual reality. His company, VPL Research, led the industry by becoming the first to sell VR goggles and wired gloves in 1985. Jaron’s 2018 video explains why we find ourselves where we are in our technological world. If you have more than an hour to watch and listen, here you go. Heads up though, Lanier is not the greatest public speaker.

Jarod Lanier

Here are my three major takeaways from Jaron’s video. 1. Social media is a drug, 2. Assholes like us who use it aren’t the customers so we don’t have a say about anything. After all, who takes advice from drug addicts? 3. The two forces in conflict are free, open-source technology vs. media superstar billionaires who want to own the internet for fame and huge personal profit. The power of money wins in the end, and open source intellectual property just hurts the creators who give it away.

The other thing that occurred, was the appearance of a former Facebook employee, Frances Haugen, on Sixty Minutes, which exposed what the social media giant has been and not been doing in terms of protecting children and teenagers from harmful products, posts and putdowns from peer groups. She alleges that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other services managed by the Zuckerberg “monopoly” did research which showed damaging data, such as 6% of American kids tracing their desire to commit suicide to posts on their social media platforms. Up until now, Facebook has managed to keep this data secret.

Ms. Haugen also alleges that her group, the Facebook Civic Integrity Team, was put in place before the 2020 election to guard against disinformation but disbanded afterward when the company reverted to the engagement algorithms used previously. Haugen is a specialist in “algorithmic product management,” and previously worked on several ranking algorithms similar to the one Facebook uses, so she understands the inferiority of an algorithm as compared to human oversight.

Frances Haugen

Frances Haugen is not some disgruntled employee; she is a true political activist. According to CNN, “About a month ago, Haugen filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that the company [Facebook] is hiding research about its shortcomings from investors and the public.” She also leaked documents to the Wall Street Journal, which published a multi-part investigation showing that the company was aware of problems with its apps, including the negative effects of misinformation and the harm caused, especially to young girls, by Instagram.”

The bottom line of all these disclosures is that Facebook and Zuckerberg care more about profits than harm to their subscribers. Again, let’s not forget this major point. Facebook’s customers are the advertising agencies, large corporations and research firms who pay Facebook billions of dollars every year, not us posters of cat and baby pictures.

I was just about to post a link to this new post when I discovered Facebook was down, and since I have been banned from Twitter for life, I had no way to promote this latest diatribe. Nonetheless I still had readers at this site and didn’t at all miss Facebook while it was inert. It was like not drinking for a few days, and there you have it. Jaron Lanier compared constant use of Facebook or Instagram to gambling. When we lose, we play again. When we win, we play again. When we feel like an outsider, we push our way to the front of our page. For just one second, we all want to be famous, we all want to be Trump, or Musk, or even Kanye. When people say stupid things, we get angry and post twice as much. It’s anger that pulls us back in, again and again.

People who believe lies and conspiracy theories continually post stupid messages and memes. In turn, we post put-downs containing quotes of their mistruths, which helps the lies grow more powerful than truth. Most of the social media landscape is just one big food fight with members of this sick club putting each other down. It’s easy to fall into the abyss. A relative asked me this stupid question, “What gives you the right to say that to me?” I simply replied, “Because it’s free — and I am now free to unfriend you.” See what I did there? I used my Facebook voice.

You know that social media will only get more screwed up should the government get involved. Despite all the historic uproar and legislation, we still sell cigarettes and, according to the CDC, “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.” What have we learned?

How did the government’s break up of Bell Telephone help us? We have slowly returned to that same road with only two or three major cellphone players. Breaking up the telephone monopoly has not made anything better for us. I pay hundreds of dollars each month for phones and phone services.

The algorithms at Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and all the other social media sites weren’t designed to be evil. They were created with the same loving care our mothers used when making our favorite dishes. Once mom figured out what got our plates empty, she made the same dishes over and over again, not realizing the unhealthy ingredients and preparation methods were harming us. Facebook isn’t about to slow down “likes” or censor everything they believe is wrong. The fact is, they can’t. Doing so would require a dedicated “person editor” for just about every user. Why do mass shooters keep steaming their dirty deeds? Because they can. Facebook is not fast enough to stop a speeding bullet. The real question is will they be able to stop an out-of-control Congress?

BRAND NEW BOOK

We knew that the great divide in America would have a major effect on the presidential election in the year 2020, but something else was lurking that we didn’t anticipate. The world suffered a global pandemic of Covid-19, and everything changed. The lockdown motivated one author to write MASHED POTATOES: Covid, Cancer & Comfort Food. The cover ironically claims the book is a “humorous” recollection of 2020, but one might ask, “Where was the humor?” This is a work of survival to motivate those who desire to get beyond Covid-19, beat cancer and defend our precious Democracy.  The world got Covid, the writer got cancer and we all ate copious amounts of comfort food. It’s time to swallow the truth, survive the madness, take a large spoon and savor some delicious MASHED POTATOES. Get some here. 

Book for the Recovery – Build Back Better!

How to Hire Great People: Tips, Tricks and Templates for Success

Great companies hire great people. This short, easy-to-read book will help you recruit, review and refocus your new workers into the style and culture of your company. Motivating people to do great work will manage turnover and keeping good workers at your company will maintain your success. Employee inspiration makes a positive difference in our competitive world. HOW TO HIRE GREAT PEOPLE covers everything, including testing, training, tricks and tips. Follow this guide and you’ll assemble strong teams with smart workers, and you’ll learn some time-tested techniques about how to keep them. Kindle and Paperback Click Here

New Modern Art – Doodles and Cartoon Website

www.thedreamwindow.com

There is a subliminal part of art that makes one wonder what the artist is trying to say. Some of my drawings and doodles mean absolutely nothing. They were just images of daydreams that I splattered onto paper. Others have a specific memory, joy pain or frustration. Some hold love, sexual passions or merely thoughts …


WE ARE LEMMINGS, HEAR US ROAR!

Trump’s Militia of Miscreants Failed Their Mission

Being “for something” doesn’t necessarily have an embedded notion of “being against” something else, but most folks tend to make things binary. Paired concepts such as right/wrong, yes/no, good/bad and start/finish help people see a big picture which often makes them feel safe. A world where things are either black or white might make one secure in their opinions, but life is far too complex for such simple choices. Some issues have so many shadings and gradations that reflective thought is needed to break the myopic spell.

While writing today’s blog, I found this article by Spencer Greenburg. He’s a software developer and think-tank type of guy who also has done some Ted Talks. In his article, Greenburg discusses nuanced thinking in detail. Mr. Greenburg’s post points out three types of dichotomies: 1. The Truth Binary, 2. The Goodness Binary and, 3. The Identification Binary.

The Truth Binary usually begins with someone saying, “I believe….” followed by their statement of “fact,” which is actually their opinion which could be either correct or incorrect.

The Goodness Binary is a simple declaration, such as saying Donald Trump is good or he’s bad. There’s no room for even the slightest objective reasoning as in, “Well, he did good things.” But, what does that mean? It’s just a blunt statement devoid of nuance and any wiggle room.

Then there’s the Identification Binary, in which an opinion is based on membership in a class. It’s the reason why many political candidates don’t declare a party affiliation on their posters. A voter learning of a candidate’s class affiliation might then judge them according to the good/bad lens through which they view the class, not the candidate.

I find it debilitating to engage with people who don’t fully understand words and their shades of meaning. When speaking with a neighbor, I called Trump a racist. My neighbor simply replied, “No, he’s not.” I took a deep breath and then backed out of the discussion. My neighbor holds membership in a class that cannot contemplate the outgoing president doing anything wrong. There was also another stumbling block; I didn’t trust the man’s definition of racism. How can two people possibly debate a subject without agreement on the terms? Teaching someone a nuanced concept of racism would take far too long in a casual conversation.

I am intrigued by the endless discourse of legal minds tapped to explain to the masses whether Donald John Trump is guilty, or not, of sedition by inciting the riot on Capitol Hill. The idea that anyone could possibly speak to the intent of another involves so much nuanced interpretation it seems silly to waste any breath on it. There are times when binary logic can’t help. For example, consider the question of why a person who says he is a “law and order” president urges people to break the law. Trump spoke the words that incited his rabid followers to riot, ending in the deaths of five people. How can this be right? Good/bad and right/wrong are binary choices, but there are times when only complex facts can discern a truthful reality.

Fighting For Trump

The president asked his sycophants to come. He addressed them, he pumped them up and then he urged them on to the Capitol, where bad things happened. Some say the rioters were egged on by Antifa members who had infiltrated the mob. Well, that declaration fails nuanced analysis; it’s just not true. How do I know this? Because the insurgents confessed on TV who they supported and why they committed their crimes.

The Trump Army that tried to take Capitol Hill miserably failed their mission, not because the police and guards eventually pushed them away but because their assignment was to stop the vote count. That didn’t happen. After taking a safety break, Congress roared back and did exactly what the mob tried to prevent them from doing. The insurgents were disappointed by Trump’s video saying their actions were wrong, and when Trump realized his words hurt the little lemmings he regretted recording his second video on the matter. That reveals his intent.

We saw the lemmings in action. They disrupted the government for a few hours, caused millions of dollars of damage and created a situation that ended in the deaths of five people. There’s no nuance, and the lemmings’ binary choice may net some of them five-plus years of jail time. The fat guy who endorsed and encouraged their illegal actions won’t be around to pardon them, nor should they be pardoned. They need to be punished. Yes, punish/pardon is a binary choice, but I’ve got some support for my opinion.

Mobs are bad. Not only do I believe this, but the pointed statement fits into the binary classifications of Truth, Goodness and Identification. Mobs generally believe and act with a singular brain driving them. That’s why they can build a pyramid (Egypt), kill the leader of a church (Joseph Smith) or break through guards (last week on Capitol Hill). When the one brain is wrong then the whole group is wrong, and shit inevitably happens. No one can argue against death being bad, especially those who have lost their lives and voices. I am speaking for them today.

It’s impossible for the lemmings to think clearly because of the grand brainwashing by Donald Trump with his endless lies and misinformation. The miniature misguided creatures don’t have the intellectual capacity for discernment. They “know” only what the man has told them. They haven’t taken the time to see the multiple sides of the issues that drive them because either they can’t, or they don’t want to. They live in a class of ignorance and disregard.

The bell rang and the class of 2020 left the school, but with no diplomas. The American carnage that Donald John Trump talked about during his early days in office has been realized in his miserable waning days. Rather than trying to please this base or that base, it’s time for us to figure out America’s true needs and then work together with laser focus to bring them into reality. The age, experience and wisdom of an older president is essential to truly make America great again. I’m ready for that, and so is Joe!

Book for the Recovery – Build Back Better!

How to Hire Great People: Tips, Tricks and Templates for Success

Great companies hire great people. This short, easy-to-read book will help you recruit, review and refocus your new workers into the style and culture of your company. Motivating people to do great work will manage turnover and keeping good workers at your company will maintain your success. Employee inspiration makes a positive difference in our competitive world. HOW TO HIRE GREAT PEOPLE covers everything, including testing, training, tricks and tips. Follow this guide and you’ll assemble strong teams with smart workers, and you’ll learn some time-tested techniques about how to keep them.

Kindle and Paperback Click Here

 

The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

Get the Kindle Version HERE. Or order your paperback edition HERE.

 


VOTING IN AMERICA

Trump’s Greatest Challenge & Flaw

Statistics provide a clear picture of who we are as a people. Many Americans have taken the right of voting for granted. In 2016, 250,056,000 Americans voted, which was only 55.5% of eligible voters. That’s a strange statistic for a country where more than a million people have fought and died to protect the right to vote. Why do so many not take that privilege seriously?

President Johnson

In 1964, only six percent of African Americans voted, but after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 more Black people voted. By 1969, 59 percent of African Americans voted. According to the Pew Research Center, the Black voter turnout rate in the presidential election of 2016 declined for the first time in twenty years, falling to 59.6% after reaching a record-high of 66.6% in 2012. That seven percent decline from the previous election is the largest on record for Blacks. One could conclude that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump were attractive to those voters, or perhaps African Americans felt they had a sure win with Obama in the race.

Another statistic that cracks right between the eyes is 38% of those in Congress are millionaires. Startlingly, that’s not much different from the first years of the American government. The flatly stated theory goes like this; let the rich, white, planter-plantation owner class protect their business interests, and everyone else will be fine. Sadly, there’s not much difference today.

While Trump stirs up dust about Twitter and Facebook taking down his lies and misinformation they feel will hurt their subscribers, more people are dying of COVID-19 infections. While Trump is passing along stupid QAnon conspiracy theories and lies, there are people in Georgia and other states waiting eight hours in sprawling, hot lines to vote. How can any of us believe we are a great country when one of our political parties works so hard at voter suppression? They openly state their belief that when fewer people vote they do better. What is the difference between Republican actions to suppress voting and ballot burning in a third-world country after all the citizens have voted? Any US citizen involved in vote suppression, regardless of their place in society, should at least be charged with voter intimidation.

Trump sees the electorate through the filter of his belief that the American public will believe whatever he tells them. Remember, he said he could shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue and wouldn’t lose any supporters. Maybe Trump feels he must react to some of the “fake news” that has been published about him. But in reality, this guy has no credibility pushing back because he’s stuck in a ad hominem loop. He truly believes all negatives about him are untrue, therefore, even when the other guys tell almost truths about him, no one on the Democratic side believes him. He’s the boy who cried wolf so much, no one is really listening anymore.

Lunatic Leader

Probably emboldened by Trump’s successful fight with COVID, the West Wing is now pushing the B.S. that “everyone is going to get the virus.” It’s the same “herd immunity” idea Dr. Atlas dumped into Donald’s defective brain months ago. Our President now says, “See, it’s not that bad. Get back to work and reelect me.” What about losing the lives of two million people? “We are just going to have to live with it.” To a young person, the fact that they are still living is an invitation to party recklessly.

The flaw in Trump’s thinking is that people thoughtlessly do what he says. All his supporters shouting and screaming arm to arm at his rallies won’t get sick and die, but maybe some of them will come to their senses when they or a loved one starts to violently cough while gasping for air. Each false step, each tragic error, forces another crack in Trump’s armor.

The reality Trump must now confront is the wave of voters who are NOT going to stay at home. We already know that more than 15 million people have voted, and more than 60% of all mail in ballots were cast by Democrats. Trump made so many amateur mistakes as an incumbent. He could have embraced mask wearing from the beginning and air dropped millions of MAGA masks into swing states. It’s too late now. He politically over-positioned mask-wearing and the result could be many of his supporters too sick to vote.

Another junior achievement Trump ploy was getting his donor-lover-boy Louis DeJoy to disrupt the United States Postal Service in an attempt to sabotage mail in voting efforts. The overweight, orange pumpkin did this while fomenting distrust by saying the process of mail in ballots is ripe with fraud. If true, why did he make no effort to fix the problem? He is the most impotent president of all time if he can’t stop a pervasive fraud.

It’s impossible to apply logic to the actions of Trump and his grifter-enablers in Congress. They are all broke-dick cult followers and failures as patriots and people. It takes a whole nation to be a whole nation, and despite Trump’s position of needing walls to have a nation, what we truly need are voters to save our democracy. As many as legally possible. Maybe I am naïve or over-optimistic, but I believe the 2020 election turnout will be larger than ever. After the election, I want to start a campaign against the hypocrites who have too much power over us. I will be writing letters to suppress not only their voices but their Congressional votes.

The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conservation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

Get the Kindle Version HERE. Or order your paperback edition HERE.