November 15, 2022

Banned: How Social Media Dependency is Messing with our Minds, Hearts & Businesses.

My breath catches as I as I whisper to myself, “What the f*ck?”

It happened.

I got the dreaded, “Your account is in violation of community standards” message from Meta.

I wish I didn’t care but the fact that I cannot now access 2,000-plus people who make up my Facebook community is more than inconvenient. Most of us who run a business depend on social media for communication, marketing, and promotion.

I frequently use Messenger to communicate with clients. I often create events from my business page. I run several groups with several hundred participants covering topics from trauma and authentic expression, to creating a safe space for women to share their journeys and stories. I just joined several new writing groups that I was excited about participating in.

And my most recent posts were about my current frustration with writing!

With the increased role of AI (artificial intelligence) in our daily lives, I have also noticed a decrease in nuance and intelligent communication. And when it comes to feeling and detecting nuance—AI is incapable.

I have seen fellow colleagues who are relationship coaches, body coaches, and sex coaches changing the lettering of words like “sex” to “s3x,” in order to foil the Facebook algorithm, which is programmed to seek out and bury posts that contain violent or explicit language. 

Whereas I understand that we need to apply measures to provide public safety, we are also eroding the edges between “social responsibility” and censorship.

Oh, but wait. Censorship only applies to the public domain—and in a world that is consistently succumbing to the privatization of everything, the public domain is disappearing.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Reddit, and even Google all are privately owned businesses for which the First Amendment is inapplicable. To scream “Censorship!” in or about these forums is like howling into the void. It may be cathartic, but nobody cares.

Social dissension is not even necessary; it can be a simple misunderstanding on the part of a bot about a word that could be used in the context of either violence or food preparation, as with my recent use of the word “chopped,” which was determined to be violent.

The so-called social “safeguarding” in these forums is nothing more than a filtering system run by bots that determines which words could be used for say, bullying but which also buries any information that has been deemed not viable by people who program them.

And we are not even talking about news. I once got flagged when I shared a meme about how that gunky stuff we wake up with in the morning, crusting our eyes shut, is left-over amorous evidence of spider’s nightly emissions from them mating with our eyelashes. I was, in that instance, slapped on the wrist for sharing “fake news.”

Typically, I post selfies with little journal-like entries, occasionally some sexy poetry, advice on how to take care of yourself, to tend to trauma, and maintain some sense of self in a world that is working overtime to erode it. I had just committed to 30 days of doing Facebook live videos from my page, a privilege that was just days ago reinstated. Occasionally, I make inspiring memes and I do enjoy a bit of satire as well as, once in while poking at the algorithm and the robots that run it.

Then suddenly, my account is officially “disabled” with no clear path on how to challenge the ruling that I can only assume was made by a bot. The actual dehumanization that is occurring within this process is rather shocking. No one will talk to me. No one will tell me, specifically, what I did to incur this sudden cancellation.

Never have I (to quote the Facebook community standards violations): engaged in incitation of violence, written about self-harm, written about explicit sexuality, bullied or harassed anyone, engaged in sexual exploitation of another adult or child, coordinated or promoted a crime, affiliated with dangerous individuals or organizations, solicited sex, nor stolen anyone’s intellectual property.

No, I am not a model (social media) citizen; I am a fringe dweller. I am a cult-survivor, a recovered meth-addict, a writer, a healer, and a consciousness provocateur. I am a self-proclaimed witch and an advocate for common sense.

Amidst a sea of inauthenticity and professional chicanery, I am often a quiet island for people to land, to catch their breath, to release a giggle or some tears, to feel seen and held for a moment and to know that they—in their own struggles—are not alone.

I am frustrated. I was hoping to promote my new Dream Keys course that began last month. I was planning on running a group Messenger chat and a private Facebook group for the class. I’ve done my workshops that way for years.

Reluctantly, in the mere hours after being “disabled,” I am uncomfortably confronting my dependence on Facebook and I do not like the way it feels! In the past, when I have taken Facebook breaks, I always leave Messenger on my phone to maintain contact with my clients and now that, too, is suddenly gone.

My brain is scrambling for the things that will need to be done to fill in the spaces that the convenience of this utterly unreliable platform has previously afforded.

Over the years, I have seen many people leaving Facebook for this very reason: the ability to communicate in an authentic way is slowly being eroded. I’m a little nauseated by the false sense of security I had allowed myself to develop and the underlying arrogance whenever someone shared about being “banned,” “shadow banned,” “jailed,” or “restricted” in their access to the platform. But is that not often what we think (historically) as we are watching the deterioration of other’s liberties? “That will never happen to me.” Well, it did and it can.

The changes in language and the way that it needs to be expressed—so as not to offend anyone or now “trigger the algorithm”—are beginning to feel suspiciously like 1984’s thinkspeak, doublespeak, and newspeak, the means that the imaginary totalitarian regime used to control the thought process of the masses.

Only this isn’t pretend, and though 1984 was meant to be a fictitious and cautionary tale, some factions of society (and our own psyches) have gone and treated that damn book as if it were a manual.

If we cannot say what we think and feel, if we cannot write it, share it, or in other ways articulate our values and the workings of our inner world, we truly are descending into what can only be described as an Orwellian society or, more terrifyingly—a dystopian nightmare.

I have said many times that writing, but more specifically, communication is my first, second, and third love. And we absolutely need to stand up and fight for the things we love—the things that matter. 

~

Please consider Boosting our authors’ articles in their first week to help them win Elephant’s Ecosystem so they can get paid and write more.

~

Read 24 Comments and Reply
X

Read 24 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Justice Bartlett  |  Contribution: 213,665

author: Justice Bartlett

Image: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Editor: Nicole Cameron