Category: Social Media

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For Free Speech and Democracy

Fifteen years ago—April 14, 2007—the Wilcox family rode the DC Metro into downtown for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The Featured Image is one of many street shots from Canon 20D and EF 135mm f/2 USM lens. This one, composed as captured, is previously unpublished. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, 135mm; 9:32 a.m. EDT.

I choose the photo for the strangest of reasons: The riders and their American flags as symbols of democracy and freedom. Why today? Elon Musk bought Twitter, which he plans to take private and supposedly will reestablish as a platform for free speech.

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Return to Nextdoor

I last quit Nextdoor on July 28, 2020, protesting the ridiculously ambiguous tenets of the so-called “Good Neighbor Pledge”. My account is now reactivated. Testing the limits of that pledge is one of my goals in what may be a temporary return. Why bother? You ask the right question.

Burgeoning crude oil per-barrel costs, surging inflation, rising prices on seemingly everything, the Russian-Ukraine war, and potentially devastating consequences (globally) from the West’s sanctions against Russia are precursors to economic crisis of frightening magnitude. S-o-o-o, my neighbors and I may have reason to buy and sell or barter items some time in the not-so-distant future.

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Everything You Need to Know About Facebook in One Popup

On Feb. 23, 2021, a news story from BBC Online about an explosion following the collision of a freight train and 18-wheeler riveted my attention. An early version of the report offered video footage embedded from Facebook (additional media is available in the linked version that you can click). I tapped the play icon on my tablet, which got the video going but also an overlaying message requesting permission for the social network “to use cookies and website data while browsing BBC.com”. Hell no, FB CEO Mark Zuckberg’s zombie-bots aren’t allowed to track my activity. Give blanket permission for all the Beeb? Eh, no.

Dirty bird! Pressing “Don’t Allow” stopped the video playing. Not once, but every time—and I confirmed the behavior on my laptop browser today. If you think the Internet is free, I got some swamp land in Florida to sell you right now. I don’t own it and you wouldn’t want it, but if you’re gullible enough to think social networks and other content-rich sites give you something free without taking something more, let’s you and I make a swamp deal. You are tracked, your browsing behavior is catalogued, and advertisements are targeted based on your online activities. That’s the Facebook Way.

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Don’t Be Typosquatted

In early September 2014, I bought my wife the Singer Heavy Duty 4432 Sewing Machine from Amazon for $99.99. Annie had hoped to make some of her own clothes—something she had long aspired to do. Perhaps if we lived in a larger apartment, she would have achieved her dream; setting up and using the Singer—portable as the thing is—required more space than we could spare.

Fast-forward to late-December 2020. Annie saw a post on Nextdoor from someone looking to buy a sewing machine. Budget: $100. Seeing as the 4432 had never been used, other than to make sure it operated, Amazon’s current price was $209.99, and the manufacturer’s $289.99, $100 would be a deal. Annie responded, and the woman, who we’ll call Grace, agreed to buy the Singer, which would come with extra sewing doodads.

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The N-Word for White Women

Six months have passed since I walked by the painted window, somewhere in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, that is this post’s Featured Image. My thoughts needed some percolation before I was ready to express them. Here we go. Women of a certain age (often middle age, or older), economic status (Middle Class or wealthier, which means entitled), and race (white) are all over the InterWebs for behaving badly. Somebody smartphone-videos their tirades, which may or may not include racial slurs but more often is angry or exasperated. The typical stereotype is the woman who calls cops or store manager to settle a perceived grievance.

Call it the new KKK—Karen-Ken Klan, which lynches people in the social media public square, where they don’t lose their lives but absolutely lose their livelihoods: Jobs and reputations, for starters. Death would almost be merciful compared the merciless torture for which they endure.

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I Quit Nextdoor AGAIN

For the third time since joining the so-called neighborhood social network in August 2017, I write about leaving. Previously: October 2018 and July 2019. Pandemic, pets (lost ones), police, politics, and protests were all good reasons to make 2020 a grand return. Every week passes like a lifetime this year. Many of us are confined to our residences or street, because of “shelter-in-place” and “social-distancing” orders; fear of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—infection; work-from-home requirements; job loss; or school closures. Nextdoor was a way to connect and to stay informed.

But, today, I unceremoniously deactivated my account, once more, because the mandatory “Good Neighbor Pledge” offends me. The thing popped up when I opened the News Feed—first time, this morning. To read, or do anything else, means acknowledging “I agree”. I don’t.

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What’s Behind the Nextdoor?

In classic episodes of game show “Let’s Make a Deal“, Monty Hall lets participants choose from among three doors, with the expectation that something prize-worthy waits behind one. But what if there are disappointing gag-gifts behind all of them? The answer kind of explains my abandoning social network Nextdoor for the second—and surely—last time.

I quit Nextdoor in mid-October last year after joining in August 2017. Primary reason: Interaction turned negative my relatively positive attitudes about the neighborhood. But, about five months ago, I reactivated my account after kitties Laramie and Lupe were abandoned; I worked with other concerned residents and a real estate agent seeking to get the animals safely removed before the property was sold. Nextdoor facilitated communication. Rescue House put the bonded pair into a foster home, and as I write they’re still waiting to be adopted.

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A Purely Personal Purge

Today ends tight-integration between Google Drive and Photos, which when working on Chromebooks I earnestly depended for the fluidity of my imaging workflow. As expressed about three weeks ago, the change contributed to my decision to abandon all things Google. I have lost trust in the company’s commitment to treating users as customers; they are instead beta testers for products and commodities to be profited from. That’s the price paid for free.

I have waffled about Alphabet for more than a decade—delighting in beneficial innovation and ignoring even my own analysis about Google’s profiting from—no, exploiting—content created by others. As I have written before: “Google is a leech that feeds off the intellectual property of legitimate content producers. The search giant profits from your good work, reducing its value in the process. Stated differently, ‘You create it, we sell it, and you must give it away for free’. How convenient that Google assigns such value, free, to someone else’s good work, while producing little content of its own”.

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The Great Social Network Divorce

For years, I toyed with deleting my Facebook, opened on Oct. 1, 2006—or thereabouts. About an hour ago, I deactivated instead. Finally! It is first, important step. I only kept the thing live this long out of sentimentality—seeing as I signed on long before most people heard of the social network—and to maintain presence for family and friends.

But time to let go is long overdue. Facebook is a plague that encourages narcissistic addiction, as people chase Likes, comments, and the such. They’re like mice in a maze clicking the food dispenser. The social network’s construction is toxically habitual.

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Goodbye, Google+

Two months ago I posted to Google+: “On April 1, 2019, Google will ceremoniously announce that after conducting focus groups and consulting with loyal users, the company has reversed its decision to close down Google+. On April 2, 2019, Google will pull the plug as planned and tell us that we’re April Fools”.

There was no prank—and I was being facetious rather than prescient—but those of us who stayed to the end nevertheless were fools. The grand social media experiment is over. RIP, Google+: June 28, 2011 – April 2, 2019.

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I Quit Nextdoor Today

More than a year after first hearing locals rave about Nextdoor, I joined the social network, on Aug. 29, 2017. Late this afternoon, I deactivated my account. In principle, the concept is well-conceived: Build community among people living close to one another rather than interact across the far reaches of the InterWebs on the likes of Facebook. In practice, my experience is something else: Busy-bodies spend too much time complaining about their neighbors. I liked University Heights more when knowing less about the people living here—or the amount of hit-and-run accidents, package thefts, and other so-called crimes or problems amplified by hundreds of virtual megaphones. My sense of safety and well-being has greatly diminished from using Nextdoor. So no more!

No single incident precipitated my exit. Little things accumulated—like last week’s Cookies with the Cops meeting, where one police officer explained that if a so-called incident isn’t documented, “it didn’t happen”. He referred to the Get It Done app as the go-to place for non-emergency interaction with San Diego’s finest. He likened anything else to phone chains of old, where gossiping along a line of calls turned one thing into a hundred.

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Twitter is Right About the ‘Public Conversation’

I respect—and support—Twitter’s decision allowing Alex Jones to continue using the service. No other social network is as much about free expression, whether or not you agree with the viewpoints expressed there. I see YouTube in similar vain and, as such, wag my finger in condemning “shame on you” for following Apple’s lead and pulling Jones’ channel(s). (Vain is purposefully misused to make a point that I hope you get.)

For the record: I have never listened to or watched even a snippet of InfoWars. Meaning: I don’t stand up for Jones’ viewpoints but for his expressing them across social networks.