I’m sorry to say, that I have to quit Facebook and Instagram. I can no longer cling to my ability to stay connected to my very small and scattered family, nor my wonderful friends, through these platforms.
But why? I mean, we know they are shady, and use our data against us, but we’ve always known that. Why now? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for me? This is why:
I am ½ Jewish and ½ Catholic, by birth. As far as I know, my Jewish family came to the US before the Holocaust, and I did not lose part of my family tree in that genocide. As a white person, I cannot allow my privilege to dismiss what white supremacy has done and continues to do, to oppress Black and Brown people around the world. It may seem like this is not tangential, but this is how white supremacy seeps in, and we are all made to believe it’s not that big of a deal. It is.
If you are close family or friends, I will have messaged you to make sure you can contact me by phone and/or email. For everyone, I hope you’ll connect with me here:
My Blog: https://imagerotated.com/
I know I’m just one speck in Facebook and IG’s likely zettabytes of data specks, but I have to cut that off now. I have to cut off their ability to profit from my participation of their platform. Every click I make, every quiz I take, every post, every like, every comment, gives them data. They sell it to every bidder. Not just the highest bidder, but all of them. They are double-dealing, as they court the GOP who are intrinsically aligned with white supremacy. Comment on this post, if you would like me to detail that alignment, in another post. It is extensive.
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook/IG will do anything they can, to ensure the US government doesn’t attempt to regulate them. They are using their massive power, to make sure we stay powerless. To make sure we don’t own our data. To make sure they own us.
I know Twitter has many of the same risks, as does YouTube, and Amazon, and so much of the internet. For now, I will do this as best I can. One step at a time. This is a big one, and one that doesn’t come lightly. It’s not just seeing what everyone is up to, and posting a portrait pic of that amazing culinary creation we just made. It’s a mechanism for being able to connect with the people we care about, readily.
It’s insidious, in that way. It latches on to that emotional connection, so it can be digitally leveraged against us.
I look forward to the day that we can own our data, and share it safely, with who we choose, without it being leveraged to help white supremacy. I hope I can come back, I really do.
I know, it’s totally uncool to announce your exit from the party. I’ve never been cool. This is a big change, and one that I don’t take lightly. These platforms take our big round world and make it digitally flat. My family is few and scattered across this country, and Facebook has been a lifeline. I will miss this mechanism for connecting with them, greatly.
For now, I would like to call on generation X, to help lead this charge for change. That is my generation. We are the generation who grew up riding in the back of the station wagon or pickup, with no seat belt. We took a beating and kept on going. We didn’t have the internet. We had cans with strings, and long walks or bike rides to see if our friends were home. We are also the generation that most people counted out. We were lost in the brutal shuffle of life, between boomers and millennials. This is what we were made for, and no one knew it, least of all us.
We can lead this charge, to disconnect from something that is making us sick. Those who have grown up with this technology may be unable to see this for what it is, but my hope is that older generations can. Generation X was the last generation, who grew up without social media and technology. We know that it’s not necessary. It’s a luxury. We can hold out for better. Being able to hold out, will make us stronger. We don’t need billions of dollars to do that. We just need to be able to take a beating and keep on going. We can make a hard choice, and all of us will be better off in the long run.
What can we do in the absence of using those platforms, in an active effort to regain control? We can vote. We can be informed about the candidates on the ballot this fall. We can vet information we read, and make sure to read the whole article. We can make sure our friends and family do the same. We can vote, and honor John Lewis, by demanding Mitch McConnell and the Senate pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/4/text).
The House passed it last year. Mitch McConnell has called the Democrats’ attempts to expand access to voting, a power grab. Ensuring the will of the people is protected, is a power grab, as far as the GOP is concerned. They doesn’t want the will of the people to be heard. The GOP knows that if everyone in the country has access to vote, the GOP will lose. The Majority Leader of the US Senate is holding our voting rights, and election security hostage.
I know COVID sucks and a lot of things suck, but the reality is that we are the ones with the power. We have to fix this. We are the only ones who can. Voters. In 2016, 120 million Americans voted, but 90 million registered voters did not vote. We are 200 million strong, and growing, but we have to show up and be informed.
We have to call our reps and pressure them to make the changes we need. We have to vote out the ones who gaslight facts, voting rights, regulating the tech industry, science, and so much more. We have to show up and vote, even if our first choice isn’t on the ballot. We have to look at the 2 candidates at the top of every race and compare them not just to our wish list, but against each other. Who will do the least harm and the most good? We have to vote responsibly.
Then we must show up next year, and the year after, to make it better and better. That’s how a healthy democracy works.
This year, we must be prepared for USPS delays. Trump installed a Postmaster General (Dejoy), who is actively dismantling the USPS, and causing delays. They know that absentee and mail-in ballots must be postmarked and received by specific dates, in order to be valid. Election day is not November 3rd. It is well before that day.
We must verify our registration is active now, before any deadline passes. Most deadlines are 30 days before election, but it can take time to get a registration in, if your state doesn’t allow online registration. We need to contact our county Board of Elections now and request an absentee or mail-in ballot application.
When we get our ballots, we have to fill it out immediately and get our ballots back to our Board of Elections filled in exactly as required. Mail-in ballots are often invalidated for missing a signature on an envelope, or something seemingly innocent and simple. We can’t be afraid to ask each other for help, to make sure our vote counts.
We also need to be prepared, to not get the results of the election on November 3rd. Start having that conversation now. Many states don’t open mail-in ballots until after election day. Whether that is a good policy or not, it is the policy now. Want it to change? Keep paying attention and communicating with your state government, but I suggest lobbying for those changes after this election. The state election laws are not going to change, before November.
We have to be willing to be patient, and demand that every vote be counted. Trump will absolutely call the election rigged, when we don’t have the results immediately after the election, particularly if it looks like he is already losing. He has a well-established pattern of denigrating our institutions of democracy. Don’t be a willing participant in his anti-democratic rhetoric.
I know that spending your time getting out the vote, and talking to voters about an election, does not sound as satisfying as talking to friends and family on Facebook, or posting pics and videos on IG. I get it. I’m asking something really hard. I don’t expect many will join me, but I figure I might as well make the pitch, for why this is so important, seeing as I’m making this big change.
As for my friends and family on Facebook and IG, we can see each other again, and IRL hopefully. I will miss seeing your beautiful children grow. I will miss sending you digital support when you need it. I will miss posting all my political awareness posts, hoping everyone reads them and takes them to heart. I will miss being part of conversations with people I haven’t seen in years.
Sci-fi nerds like me, love to dream of time travel. Facebook certainly didn’t accomplish that, but memories popping up in your timeline can feel like you can almost grasp it. Revisit your past. Feel those feelings. All the while, powerful people are watching our interactions, aggregating what we do, and tracking us on and off the platform. They are using those feelings to leverage our buying of goods and services. They’re using it to manipulate our votes too.
Because I get that this is a big decision to make, I have also grappled with the preparation that needs to take place. For me, this has included downloading all my data. I wanted a copy of my photos, videos, and my friends list. I went through my friend’s list, so I could identify people I wanted to reach out to and give my contact info, so we can connect outside of these platforms. If you have interest in the process I took to make this move, please comment on this post. If there is interest, I will make a follow-up post detailing how I did this. I took print screens of the steps I took, because I’m super cool like that.
Bottom line is that Mark Zuckerberg is allowing white supremacy to leverage our data and our lives, for their gain. They are giving preferential treatment to people and outlets who are gaslighting facts, and simultaneously trying like hell to suppress our vote. I can’t be a part of that anymore. I can no longer be a willing data point, that they use against me and everyone I connect with on these platforms.
I have to be part of an effort, that encourages Americans to fulfill the promise of our democracy. That we take up our civic duty to participate in our government. I will spend my time encouraging citizens to exercise their civic right, by voting in this election and every one after.
I suggest doing so as early as possible.