Giving Up on Corporate Outlets
After nearly a decade of social media; I've finally given up.
No amount of reporting of the danger of advertisement-driven, hate-funded nor democracy-destabilizing supporting platforms will sway people who will repeat advocacy for those marginalized from engaging with the rest of the world. I'm going to lock all of my accounts, purge my following, and begin scrubbing myself to the best of my ability from the corporate social Web - which is surprisingly fucking hard.
I am exhausted with the constant virtue signaling of those claiming to want a safe space online, being provided one that hundreds, if not thousands enjoy on a regular basis, only to be told that because "the memes aren't dank enough", "it's too serious" or "well, there are no celebrities" that it's worth to continue selling your time to platforms. Instead, people commit to the same places that profited from the hate that murders our committees, the vitriol that "destabilizes" our "democracy" and the pollution (and pillaging) of spaces that we allegedly carved out for ourselves.
This is a prime example of how digital neoliberalism, even from those who deem themselves as advocating for safety online, cannot be those who move the needle for collectives. We have to demand better for ourselves.
If you don't want more context, skip the next few paragraphs. Otherwise, buckle the fuck in; here comes my (short) rant.
What is the point of fighting for the same entities that have no interest in your well-being? We have people - sharing identities and alleged interests with me - who still defend the likes of Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg after they've both profited from the platforms that made bank on the harassment, harm and abuse of people who have been railing for the safety of people who will never know their names. The effects of capitalism, and namely venture capitalism, and its worship in the world removes the idea of the option for many to objectively hold these people accountable to anything and replaces it with the provably false myth that buying power and representation in boardrooms will save us all.
Why would we expect that? We live in a society whose core tenants are to uplift the wealthy and shame (if not disappear) the poor. A society that has more interest in making a profit on Black culture and identities instead of working to preserve it and connect to its roots, to a point where discussing the nature of participatory art becomes a taboo topic. We have more pride for those who will craft platforms that sell our digital selves (the way you tilt your phone, the location from where you doom-scroll at, the people whose contacts you upload to their database to find "connections", how many times you send messages to your friends on those platforms, which articles you read and don't, what shows you watch). All of that works to create digital "credit scores" that warp how we engage the Internet, slowly pushing us into a new state of debt that we're not yet acknowledging as a collective. None of this matters, and I am still at a loss as to why I expected it to, under this landscape.
The state of escapism we live in now prohibits people from imagining - let alone entertaining - a new world in which we don't have to accept passive abuse from technology. Instead of resorting to the logic that "advertisement is the only successful business model of the Internet", rhetoric that Big Tech requires to justify its massive surveillance-for-profit apparatus, we don't explore more natural forms of digital community. Digital cooperatives have existed, and we engage with them a lot (take the Associated Press, for example, in a way). Instead of guiding people into digital Ponzi currency systems (as cryptocurrency stands to be) as a means of "paying them out", we could give them something greater and with more impact - collective ownership of a platform as a member-owner to allow them to have authority and a say over the platforms itself. No corporate social networking platform - TikTok, Twitch, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Swarm, Path, Instagram - currently provides this. And that's because all of these platforms require constant surveillance of your behavior in order to determine which advertiser to pay out for showing you links to a Target ad or a link to Spotify's Premium plan. This is called digital sharecropping, and we got too many BIPOC, especially Black people, shoving the masses into these spaces.
In terms of community support, mutual aid networks have not only blossomed on alternative platforms, they've exploded. People are more comfortable sharing about themselves without fear of the platform boosting it next to hateful content that work against the legitimization of their existence. We've found that when the people whose problems aren't met are allowed to be in the drawing room to draft solutions, not techno-saviors nor MBAs who are sorely disconnected from issues (drunk literally and intellectually from the teachings of the Chicago School of Economics that spread everywhere), but the creators, artists, writers, game developers, makeup artists and sex workers, they build things that benefit society as a whole. This is because the people know what they need, way more than organizations like Google or Apple attempts to assume from their constant surveillance-as-a-service.
If you're engaged with me over the last decade, you'll know that I went from a techno optimist, hoping that digital connectivity could bring people together to becoming an anarcho-syndicalist Luddite understanding that it took possibly 400 people to build my Steam Deck and that child labor, exploitation and murder was involved in that process. I refuse to be ignorant and play along to these ideals. What I choose to focus my time on going forward would be building things in a means that allow for direct access (releasing games on platforms like Itch and avoiding Big Game Platform's grip on distribution and monetization, making applications for the Web and F/OSS operating systems instead of vendor locking systems like Apple or Google) and demonstrate the ability to exist in these realms. I reject the constant unfounded berating of alternatives, as it's (mostly) a call from those who stand to gain to continue extracting gross profits from these platforms. I understand that accessibility is a serious concern and I hope that those advocates who believe in open access to all work on helping improve these platforms instead of continuing to pointing at the failure of F/LOSS, the same F/LOSS that's used to power the majority of the world.
This is not something many people can do. I am "fortunate" that I'm residing within the United States (for now) and have the ability to use technology in a way that allows me to break free, despite the fact that nearly one out of three people in this country could be considered poor. But that does not mean I need to continue to participate in this collective violence the same industry creates. In fact, I take this as a call to others to work against these systems, the same way Luddites of the past worked to provide us with the working conditions that my fellow white-collar workers enjoy (like being able to work from home, enjoying 40 hours of work a week instead of 80, etc.) We cannot continue to preach that we are working to help everyone while constantly and systematically expanding these harms to people who are even in our own families. I reject it all, and I demand those who claim to be advocates to stand against it. Do whatever it takes: form a union, run hack parties to liberate devices, pass out counter-media to educate the masses, help sponsor rent strikes, drive people out of states with regressive politics, support alternative media, volunteer skills to collectives needing support, give out food and money - anything you can do safely to push the needle against this state of societal collapse that we're encountering. It's the least you can do with the privileges we enjoy.
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