About That Social Media Thing... August 09 2020

Stop Reading This Now!

Seriously. Read a book, give a friend a call. Or if you crave information go to a credible news source and read that on your phone or whatever. But if you're on Facebook you are either tolerating the terrible beliefs of others or you have curated a personal reality in which these these terrible people don't exist. Or perhaps you are one of those terrible people. I say all of this (partially) in jest. I don't want you to deprive yourself of social interaction during these isolating times (you bet we're coming back to that topic). I honestly try not to care what others do if they are not overtly hurting others.  But Facebook isn't doing us as many favors as it is harming our society, and I will be elaborating on some of the detrimental effects it has on us.

I recently stopped looking at Facebook and its superficial sibling, Instagram. I didn't even peek at it or look at my messages. It felt great. Of course, I felt a great deal of dissonance about this also. It's suicide for a business to neglect the social media aspect of marketing, right?

Fortunately, my disgust with social media coincided with some other events (including a sorely needed vacation) that gave me the opportunity to step away from the phone and consider how I was feeling about social media.

I don't feel good about it.

Facebook Presents a Superficial Version of People

Everyone on social media is "curating" a persona. Obviously I am not the first to point this out. It is inevitable if you think about it. Every post is the equivalent of party conversation where you are trying to impress people (remember parties?). Everything you say could be seen by anyone. It is often alarming the unfiltered things we say to the world. Others elevate this to an art form and rise to the level of "influencer" as though social media were some sort of role playing game. Arguably this is the new movie star. This phenomenon is tangentially related to Facebook, it is more of a critique of You Tube and Instagram in this particular aspect. The rewards of stardom are there: popularity and lots of nice things. There is nothing inherently wicked about this.

What is bad is the disingenuous arguments that make any real debate impossible. An argument about anything becomes a litany of personal attacks levied by people who might not even know each other. Complex ideas and people become superficial caricatures that are assumed by opposing parties to be the worst kind of "that type" of stereotype.  

Social Media Weaponized Information

More accurately, mis/disinformation. This is the incredibly dark side of social media: it presents the opportunity for bad people to spread mis/disinformation. But  you don't even have to be malicious to do it. And we have paid a hefty price in the U.S. from these people spreading false information that is amplified by bots worldwide. The most shameful aspect of this phenomenon is that these are often good old fools right here in the U.S. cooking up this baloney.

This foolishness may be homegrown and home cooked, but our enemies abroad weaponize this stupidity, and without any leadership to strongly condemn the offending parties we find our nation needlessly suffering from a pandemic that (not coincidentally) is unprecedented in the U.S.

Not only did the pandemic never have to happen (again, it is no coincidence we've never had one like this before), we never had to lose this many people to it.

Covid-19 is real. You don't want to get it. Our actions (specifically wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands) can and will slow the spread. You don't want covid. Not yet, anyway. From early on, these were core messages coming from epidemiologists. Enter Facebook, You Tube, and social media. These outlets allowed outright lies to spread during the critical days we had to get ahead of covid-19. I'm not suggesting these liars, fools, or even criminals be gagged in perpetuity, simply that authorities needed to step in with strong messaging to the contrary to save lives during this critical time.

What we are experiencing right now is inextricably linked to the unfolding disaster that is social media. Early in the pandemic, many friends on Facebook howled at the media. Some acquaintances still do. Listen, you may not know it, but your problem isn't the media (unless you watch Fox or its ilk, they are liars). Your problem is social media.

There is a profound irony here. Many took to social media to decry the press, even as the press and experts warned us of impending doom. And those same deniers of the obvious truth that coronavirus is something you don't want to get won just enough to attain a victory against the U.S. that no external enemy since WWII ever accomplished: 160,000 dead and a 30% drop in GDP. 

If any nation had conspired to commit an attack of this magnitude upon us, even the doves would be screaming for our enemies' heads on pikes.

But we did it to ourselves because some people are convinced it's a hoax because of something they read on Facebook.


An irony that makes the situation sting even more is Mark Zuckerberg's mind-bending wealth. I won't even look it up. It's just obscene.

Even as credible media outlets die off on a daily basis, Zuckerberg's wealth grows. I don't believe in unbiased media, but I do believe information (who, what, where, how many) can be relayed in a truthful way. The press generally does this. Facebook does not.

I won't elaborate here on any specific solutions, mostly because I just don't have any. It is not generally my opinion that people should be controlled with laws unless people's rights are being trampled, but here we are. The right to life is the first outlined in the Bill of Rights. Fraudsters, liars, and people with bad intentions (or even people with good intentions and remarkably dangerous ideas) shouldn't be allowed to harm us unfettered.

As for myself, I have (obviously) returned to social media, but with a clear vision about what I want: to sell you things. Not for (futile) debate, not to waste time scrolling through experiencing outrage or confirmation bias in approximately equal and alternating parts. Or even to be truly social. I'm going to do that differently.

I'm here to sell you things, and you're going to see two basic approaches: outright promotion and virtue signaling. It's all I've got, and it's what I'll show you. So consider this my overarching apology for the greedy vapidity that may ensue. I will be doing some recipes and some other stuff, but social media is a hard taskmaster, and every post can't be a deep-dive into good information.

So go to collections page and buy something, ok?

Polenta, Grits and Hominy: Setting the Record Straight Once and for All June 23 2020

After having read two different articles online by two different authors in one week that tried (unsuccessfully) to delineate the difference between polenta and grits, I felt compelled to step into this discussion and set the record straight.