Let’s disrupt the f*cking system.
No, it is not my aim to incite a worldwide overthrow of government, even though drastic changes to the established world order are essential and inevitable.
Don’t go reporting me to the Thought Police—hear me out.
Environmental degradation, climate change, wealth inequality, police brutality, fake news, ceaseless conflict, and the threat of nuclear war—the weight of the world’s tragedies feels unbearable. Insufficient control and disingenuous regulation of the corporate and political establishments have allowed lust for money and power to corrupt the systems purportedly constructed to benefit and protect the people.
Anyone paying attention should feel the need for revolution.
Unfortunately, solving all of our systemic problems is beyond the scope of both my expertise and this article.
My apologies—I will keep trying to change the world, I promise.
My first act is to implore us to inject some anarchy into our Facebook use. Here is why.
Facebook both enables and embodies The System.
Facebook can be one of the most intrusive instruments of modern society.
As the platform has evolved, users (and non-users concerned about privacy rights) have regularly protested its ability to track everything from our location to our predilection for videos of lions hugging people. And its creepily-specific, targeted advertising is most disquieting.
Facebook earns billions in revenue through advertisements targeted at individual users. It is this marketing of products and services to consumers, in order to hasten the capitalistic consumption, that fattens the bank accounts of corporate elites.
It is the essence of the corporate control element of The System.
Corporate influence aside, Facebook has also become its own System, wielding profound power over our collective subconscious by feeding our insecurities and narcissism. Push notifications alert us to real-time activity of our friends and followers. Our attention is ripped from the now because we crave validation of the life-highlights we selectively share. Through a cycle initiated by our need to belong, we constantly seek to emulate the perceptions of fulfillment we assume are the standard as we scroll through the images of a life we think we must achieve for ourselves. We lose our strength in connecting with others and ourselves. We become unconscious addicts of validation from the external, virtual world.
I am therefore a proponent of the digital detox, which research consistently demonstrates improves one’s well-being.
I do not, however, advocate for disconnecting altogether.
Facebook provides the best platform to f*ck The System.
Although Facebook has liked, shared, and selfied us into submission, this is collective, unconscious user error. Algorithm aside, it has also given us the most truly democratic medium the world has ever known.
Restrictions on content that is abusive, incites violence, violates the law, or maliciously spams users are necessary, or at the very least, understandable. But outside of the narrow realm of restricted content, Facebook provides an open platform to share or promote nearly any idea or information one pleases.
Why not use this tool to disrupt the established order?
Introduce a little anarchy.
Anarchism is about rejecting concentrated power and paternalistic control. It instead supports personal autonomy, voluntary association, and cooperation among individuals enjoying profound civil liberties. It does not inherently incite violence or chaos, but encourages individual efforts toward the betterment of self and a less restrictive society.
If that sounds appealing, here are five ways to mindfully introduce some anarchy through Facebook:
1. Promote voluntary association: cultivate a network of conscious friends. Facebook’s mission statement is to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” It provides a unique opportunity to connect with, and disconnect from, whomever we choose from a pool of two billion people. Cultivating a network—a community of conscious, mindful friends—is as simple as a few taps on a screen. The crucial first step to injecting anarchy is intentionally creating a network to share, receive, and promote positive, encouraging, and enlightening content.
2. Resist censorship: mindfully select and filter content. Oxford Dictionaries chose “Post-truth”—relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief—as its 2016 Word of the Year. Using common-sense can help us navigate the corporately-biased mainstream media and the post-truth, fake news swamp. But it also takes diligence to identify sources of truly unbiased, accurate information. Facebook allows personal users, news outlets, and other organizations to freely share and follow content we choose. It presents a virtual world open to anyone to share and learn truly good information, unobstructed by the corporate and political powers that manipulate “news” content in order to vomit propaganda. Facebook is a corporate behemoth, but its platform is still the most open, truly democratic medium in history. Use it to disrupt the reliance on biased, post-truth, fake news.
3. Promote civil libertarianism: be your authentic, true self, and encourage others to do the same. Indeed, the most poignant condemnation of Facebook use is excessive personal posting to feed our egos. But as my network of conscious persons has expanded, I have been inspired by friends authentically expressing themselves through thoughtful commentary on world affairs, artistic creation, and personal growth. Flute beatboxing in Liverpool. Women’s empowerment life coaching in California. Consciousness-forward video production in New Zealand. Friends’ accounts of living lives connected with their true selves, bettering themselves and their communities, exemplify how to lead by example. And by following inspirational pages such as Prince EA, Project Happiness, or SumOfUs, my feed is now smattered with uplifting and intellectually stimulating content that reminds and challenges me daily to be a be myself—the best version.
Facebook gives us a platform to seek egoic approval. But, if used mindfully, it gives us untethered liberty to emerge from behind the image of what we think we are supposed to be.
4. Encourage mutual aid and direct action: promoting charitable and philanthropic causes. In mid-2015, the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, raising $100 million for the ALS Association in a month. But its Facebook popularity went beyond, inspiring other charitable organizations to utilize similar methods for fundraising and awareness. But helping individuals is equally fulfilling. After a Michigan woman endured five unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy to treat her pleomorphic sarcoma, her friends and community bombarded Merck’s Facebook page, leading the pharmaceutical giant to provide her a newly FDA-approved drug which reduced the risk of the spread of cancer or death by 50 percent. The friend who told me her story bemoaned, “Her story is one of the only things that makes me think social media is beneficial.” In rejecting centralized control, Anarchism necessarily depends on individuals voluntarily working together for any common purpose. Facebook catalyzes the connection and communication necessary for them to do so.
5. Resist coercion, authoritarianism, and paternalism: fight injustice, corruption, and abuse of power. The inauguration day women’s march against Trump’s misogyny—the largest protest in U.S. history—began on election night, when a Hawaiian woman created a Facebook event for a hypothetical march. The most widespread civil rights movement since the 1960s began with a Facebook post on the acquittal of George Zimmerman with a simple hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter. Over one million people checked in on Facebook to Standing Rock to obscure suspected police surveillance of protestors—surveillance made possible by a company that provides surveillance information to police named Geofeedia, to which Facebook grants access to public posts and location information.
And in Guatemala, a disgruntled businessman’s Facebook rant about government officials’ embezzlement scheme spawned Facebook events culminating in the biggest protest the country had seen in 50 years. The vice president resigned immediately. The president resigned and was jailed a few months later.
A Facebook rant, hashtag, or event can catapult immediately into widespread resistance to government overreach, corporate control and systemic abuse of power. No other tool carries the force of Facebook to f*ck The System this way.
Don’t like the current state of affairs? Disagree with corporate, media, political establishment control over what you hear, what you read, and what you are allowed to do? Want to see some change?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. You can start to be that change by injecting some anarchy into your Facebook world.
Author: Matthew Mason
Image: Author’s Own; IMDb
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen