Thursday, May 9, 2013

Six Decades to Separation From Reality

Welcome to the Internet! The Wild West of the new Millennium! 


   Where to begin. Perhaps I should relate my frustration, anger and sorrow when my son was too confused and ashamed to tell me he had replied to a spam/phishing comment that promised he had just won a new Xbox 360 console, only to lose control of his Facebook account. A Facebook account that he took pride in, as he chatted with friends and displayed his basketball photos and artwork. His dismay, the lost innocence, was difficult to bear as a Parent. Imagine his excitement that HE was selected and his Dad and Mom would be so proud that he jumped on this great opportunity! He and his brother wouldn't have to fight over the one Xbox, now there would be TWO! I tear up every time I think about son has the biggest heart and it is always worn lovingly on his sleeve. Sure, it's "only a Facebook account" and my son has since opened a new account and he's that much wiser. But that first account was his property, his place to just be himself with his friends and it was stolen. Not only was it stolen, but it became a playground for the thieves to continue their scam in search of enough information to steal money through ID theft. They sent messages, pokes, invitations and more, using my son's "credibility". And you know what? It was all my son's fault, according to the tech-savvy geniuses at Facebook and any other profit center on the Internet. PayPal is Legend for this type of "buyer beware" attitude that always seems to benefit the profit center with, what else, more profit. In the example with Facebook, the abandoned account is still open and actively sending out spam after two years, which allows Zuckerberg and friends to add another "user" in their advertising calculations. While I'm very skeptical of the value in advertising on Facebook, YouTube or any website, it is the driving force that makes the internet what it is, for good or for bad.
   It's almost an irony that the internet began as a non-profit, non-commerce, non-Corporate "thing" to build our knowledge base as a species of living beings capable of conscious thought, long term memory and complex language. As rapidly as the internet blossomed into a force for intellectual growth, it has decayed into a rotting corpse of greed and corruption. Under the guise of "freedom of speech", we have abandoned all notions of accountability, integrity or honesty. If the end result is an increased profit-margin or shareholder return, damn the torpedoes, "troll" the masses and full steam ahead. And the cruelest joke of all with regard to the creation of the "Information Superhighway"? Ignorance and misinformation provide the biggest profits of all. Rather than expanding our knowledge, advertising dollars have transformed the Internet into a Snake Oil Emporium where humans reinforce their worst imaginable fears, their worst misguided beliefs and their worst inhibited behaviors. Six decades ago, the Internet began. We have 6 months to reinvent it.
   Reinventing the Internet? Where's the website? Is there a petition I need to "sign"? Where do I "donate"? What's the name of this "movement" and can I join? Will I get more "followers" if I join? The first step in reinventing the Internet is to raise your awareness. For one 24 hour period of "surfing" the Internet stop joining, stop counting followers, stop signing petitions, stop clicking on ads and yes, stop donating. Hit the reset button and ask your friends to give it a try. This isn't a permanent change, although some may decide it's not a bad idea. The purpose is to simply raise awareness of the value YOU and your "click here" possess.

   Thanks for your time. Have fun and be safe!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Twitter Politics

   Just about the time I was preparing for my vacation from Twitter politics, I vaguely remember some invitations to "Unite Blue" and there was some reference to "Connect The Left" in there somewhere. In the past, I would usually click on follow if a new follower had the CTL hashtag in their bio. Safe, harmless and I have applied the same basic formula to new UniteBlue followers when I returned. But I've noticed a significant change in twitter habits among the Unite Blue crowd. They seem to be operating under some guideline that requires the UB hashtag and avoids using the open source, unaffiliated "#p2" that was fundamental in facilitating dialogue and messaging through the 2012 elections.
   First, I haven't bothered to research into the UB forums or even broach the subject on Twitter, but regardless of whether it is a formal or informal guideline, it's not a healthy development. Ideology tied to a specific organization under the auspices of a supervisory "board" for the sole purpose of driving membership numbers and creating a culture of exclusivity with "perks"...that's the basic formula for the Pro-life orgs, the Tea Party, The Breitbartians and the spin-offs. Second, while I haven't researched, I'm well aware of a twitter "beef" simmering below the surface and the numerous blogs questioning the motives behind Unite Blue. I haven't read many of the blogs as I've tried to preserve a more naive perspective and just "let it play out".
   At this point, I'm merely suggesting you dedicate 3 of your 140 characters to #p2. To continue the tradition of open source progressivism and liberalism, unfettered by organizational ties or loyalties. A hashtag that was truly created by the grassroots FOR the grassroots. Thanks for your time.