Notes 7/3

Coffee with milk in a dark mug
Image by Nicholas Ng via Unsplash

A few days ago, a post from one of our blogging colleagues, supporting peaceful protest, vapourised just as I posted a response to it. The suppression of speech and shredding of proprietary content is only the beginning of the issues plaguing social media platforms. As Upper Echelon Gamers puts it, “Companies do not care about you.”

Many social media users complain about content banned for “reasons” including nebulous and somewhat petty rules violations. Meanwhile, the most vile content continues to be added to those same platforms seemingly without resistance. I once saw a post with an offensive word spelled out on Scrabble tiles. The justification for posting it was wordy. He knew exactly what he was doing and who would be reading. Another subscriber from a different country threatened, from the comfort of his bedsit, to get me ‘deported’ even though I am a long term resident of a country he has never even visited.

I believe that a platform like WordPress has the resources to hire staff to manually review posts flagged by an algorithm, and warn users about community policy violations. It is lazy to smoke every post that uses the flagged keyword or hashtag of the day. If you have a blog, keyword lists are not enough. People who use speech to denigrate others know how to evade the censors.

Brown paper in envelopes with fountain pen
Image by Ankhesenamunn via Unsplash

I once had a subscriber suggest here, on this blog, that “the races” should shove off to a remote part of the world so she wouldn’t have to live in harmony with us. A mutual write-off won’t make the world a better place. I’ve tried to initiate discussions on the problematic phrasing, virtue signalling and outright opportunism that occurs in times like these. Invariably, my remarks bring out a defensive response. I think the best approach is to keep using our blogs to challenge retrogressive ideas in a non-confrontational way: Art, fiction, reflections, photography, poetry, music and film. The resistance is here on WordPress.

That’s why I’m always beating the drum of engagement. As wonky as it is, this platform enables us to see more of the world. Of course it is risky to reach out and start conversations with people we have never met face-to-face. Sure, it can be a painful undertaking. And yes, it might be a terrible idea but in the exchange, I feel that getting noticed disrupts the status quo of toxic ideologies.

This leaves me with a most important question. How do we get closer to those individuals, to influence them away from divisive and destructive ideas, when the voices of the well-intentioned continue to be suppressed?

(^ν^)


Post script: As a side note, it has been five days since my attempts to upgrade this account have been thwarted. Yet, on Dashboard, I see a notice encouraging me to buy a unique domain. That is a machine talking. Not a single peep has been heard from the mysterious Help Desk humans. As far as I am concerned, they have left town.

43 thoughts on “Notes 7/3

  1. Good points raised and they have merit and so do opposing views. The main message I take from this is no matter what our views, opinions, perspectives, we can express them respectfully and with compassion. We may never understand things from another person’s perspective but that doesn’t stop us from looking at things from another perspective to broaden our awareness and understanding. Computers and machines will do what they are programmed to do which is done by humans, algorithms work to an extent. Also, each platform may have their own standards – there is inconsistency and this can affect what is allowed/ disallowed. Persistence will help our message/ voice be heard but we also need to be conscious it won’t be heard by those who do not want to hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true, and thank you for adding your thoughts. We have to listen to things that make us uncomfortable if we are to influence others. It doesn’t mean that we accept hatred and division but it does mean we have to try and find out the root of those feelings if we are to work towards changing them. Have a lovely week ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, so sorry you’ve had to deal with all of this. Just when you think we’ve grown a bit as a species, history just keeps repeating itself.

    I’m here to cheer and applaud your statement re: art, photography, music, film… I think right now people are spending so much time yelling about politics and ideology at each other, that we seem to have forgotten about the power of culture. Culture and artistic expression can often change minds and souls when slogans can’t. I’m with you that this is how we can work to make the world better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a fabulous discussion you started here, Sabiscuit. I wonder if you would have gotten the same thoughtful responses if your post wasn’t wrongfully removed. I had very few comments on my post. Like one of your friends, I’m in the middle. I don’t like or approve of riots, but police brutality is inexcusable. I watched a documentary about wrongfully accused people who were exonerated. The overwhelming number of them was black. I can understand their frustration even though I don’t approve of the approach. The true innocents in this are the small business owners. If you think of this episode in history in terms of the family unit. The parents have all the authority. Some parents share it willingly. Others are 100% autocratic. When you are two and frustrated, you throw a tantrum. You hit, bite, break things because that gets attention when nothing else will. If your parents don’t learn other ways to behave, the child gets worse and the violence gets out of control and parents are at a loss. To me, rioting is a last-resort, childish response to response to authority but it is sometimes the only way to get people to listen. I hope we can get some clear-headed, fair minded people to handle the situation. Thanks again for your post! 🤪

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree very much. I definitely do not support rioting. It accomplishes nothing positive. I support agitating for one’s rights especially when they’re being violated or suppressed. And I will always speak out when I see something like that happen.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree with V Pub, ” How can we ever work towards peace and justice when opinions are dismissed out of hand, doors shut, and no dialog? We have two political sides pointing fingers at each other and doing nothing. The problem becomes when we stop having intellectual curiosity and become cheerleaders for a party. That’s sad and dangerous.”

    As to influencing people, I think kindness and tolerance play a big part. Listening to people and asking why, what may have been their life experiences and influences as to why they are thinking this way? As V Pub said, when opinions are dismissed out of hand – for example, someone showing a little sympathy towards cops (for example, maybe they have some cops in their family) – and then they are publicly shamed, bullied, or unfollowed. That doesn’t promote peace and understanding…just continues to create enemies and separate people. Another example: I’m a centrist, the byproduct of influence from strongly liberal friends, media, Hollywood, and on the other side, a very conservative family and upbringing, so my views lie in the middle or sometimes lean to the right and left depending on the issue. Unfortunately people can be so extreme, I have had multiple friends suggest to me that I should disown my family since they must be racist idiots. I am saddened and amazed they would do such a thing if it were their own families.

    More questions, less judgement. Of course not everyone is open to intelligent discussion but I think we could have more of it if people didn’t feel so attacked when sharing their opinions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true. Everyone knows what it’s like to be respected but nobody wants to try it out on other people. It’s hard here, sometimes because I don’t really know what a person is all about until I actually try to talk to them. Sometimes you think I’m getting on with it and then someone says something to make me really question what I’m doing here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s also easier to disrespect people online when you aren’t face to face with someone, reminded that this is a real human with feelings you’re talking to. And as you said, here you just get to see a snippet of someone’s thoughts and life since not everyone treats their blog like a diary.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You have pointed this out nicely that non aggressive approach is the best. I always wonder how people who run these social media platforms handle this for the massive amount of contents out there. I have heard FB hired a large number of people to do such screening. I do not know how true and how practical that is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for commenting, Yellow Cable. I’ve heard the same reports but they’re tasked with different types of content screening. A smaller platform like Quora does this with volunteer moderators. It is not hard to implement. Programmers don’t care because they’re not reading our blogs. Most of the code they deploy on this platform is open source so it takes minimal effort to plug some keywords into a shredder program. It goes back to the main point which is that companies don’t care about us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The censorship and authoritarianism are getting scary on many different fronts. It worries me greatly, and it doesn’t matter to me if the authoritarians are from the right or the left, I don’t like it at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re correct. It is authoritarianism and it is very scary. Because it means any kind of speech can be suppressed regardless of whether it is beneficial for the community or not. People fail to see this point and they only look at the issues that are affecting them emotionally. They don’t realise that information which can be helpful to them can be suppressed in exactly this same way.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Some people post something then delete it themselves when commenters tell them they said the wrong thing, its like self censorship, even though they thought they were offering support. I think maybe it would be better if there was no censorship at all, but its difficult to be sure of anything lately

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d like to say something about censorship too. I think allowing people to post something and then telling them this is completely wrong is the better way. Because at least, people learn that their ideas are not good for society is in general. Instead these people continue to twist words around or talk about something else and you have to guess who they are pinpointing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Its getting so that people dare’nt say anything in case someone else says something more current and up to the minute with the changing situation. eg, first its wrong to go outside because of corona, then its a protest, then a riot. Then its wrong to riot, then its right, then its should we all join in? Yes or no? Depends, is it wrong not to riot? Oh, its so difficult! 😮

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rioting is wrong in this case but I’m all for demonstrating all day with chanting, phone calls, email petitions, etc. The process matters – apply pressure but don’t take things too far.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sometimes it takes riots to instigate change, so I understand the compulsion. Things went way too far when the cops killed that guy, its inexcusable; the footage blows my mind, in a bad way.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It can be a minefield discussing these issues – you can only engage in dialogue with people who are willing to be engaged that way. Otherwise, anyone who wants to just shout you down needs to be either blocked or just ignored. Nothing is to be gained by getting sucked into that.

    On the other hand, it is still important to get your message across, calmly, clearly and firmly. These racist attitudes need to be called out as abhorrent and unacceptable, and those who are guilty need to be called to account.

    I fear this will go on for a long while yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s true, Mick it’s a minefield. I’ve had to address a lot of issues quietly. It is confusing because to say nothing it’s as if we’re not aware of the situation or tolerating things. Yet speaking up gets us told off for being negative.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with Sabiscuit. These issues have not gone away just because they aren’t as openly discussed as, say, during the civil rights movement. I had a hopeful thought this morning though. Despite these old issues continuing to resurface in North America, it’s a place where Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is still considered one of the greatest novels. In fact, I probably wouldn’t understand as much as do about the effects of racism if it weren’t for many American writers. James Baldwin as another great example. If anybody is feeling angry right now, please read his book: The Fire Next Time. Baldwin became a knight in my eyes after reading that book.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Just a point of fact here, one of those commentators on that post that you linked unfollowed me because I had a dissenting position of covid on someone else’s blog. And my response was to the author, not the blogger who unfollowed me. How can we ever work towards peace and justice when opinions are dismissed out of hand, doors shut, and no dialog? We have two political sides pointing fingers at each other and doing nothing. The problem becomes when we stop having intellectual curiosity and become cheerleaders for a party. That’s sad and dangerous.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Did the person say that was why they unfollowed you? You know how WordPress is – they delete followers on impulse. I’ve had to re-follow a bunch of blogs. I’ve even had people get angry with me for doing that. Not my fault. This is some of the wonkiness I am talking about. The software is horrible and does weird stuff which people take personally. Please keep the other alternative explanation in mind.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah. Now we have a pattern. At least you know where the other person stands. You don’t have to get in each other’s way and you don’t have to believe they’re an ally when they’re a detractor. Some people do these things very lightly do please do not take them seriously.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I see it as a gift as well. Hope you’re having a great day in spite of all the strife. Calypso sends you a tambourine shake hello. 🧚🏽💃🏽👯‍♀️

        Like

  11. I’m so angry right now, I have no more thirst for dialogue. My thirst is for something a bit more sinister, but that seems to be the only language the sheep seem to understand these days. They want us to be able to acquire weapons of mass killing, right? It’s the right of Americans to defend themselves, right? Fine. We may just have to do that. I don’t much care for those tactics, but it may be the only option soon. Enough is enough.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t think that knocking people upside the head will help matters. That is not the same as saying that this is going to be tolerated. One of the things I like about cancel culture is that when someone like Megyn Kelly opens her mouth and says something really dumb no one buys the excuse that she was using word salad. She can keep the millions of dollars she got in her lawyerly cash grab and get lost. The reason I say so is that many “intelligent” people agreed with her and couldn’t understand why people like me would get upset about that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Part of resisting is knowing how to assert our rights and that’s a point you’re making. It is a very important one. I’m sorry that your post was destroyed. I’m accustomed to WordPress getting on my case but when I saw your post getting trashed I thought that was over the top.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, the disappearance of one of my posts isn’t gonna stop me from posting about this horrible president and his minions. They think somehow that we’ll just go away. Not this time.

        Liked by 1 person

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