Parker’s Perspective: Protecting the Common Good Against the Excess of Social Media

Parker’s Perspective: Protecting the Common Good Against the Excess of Social Media

When everything falls away, there will be little left but the memory of who we were, and the good and the bad we left behind. It will not be the number of followers we had on Facebook or the cool picture we posted on Twitter or Snapchat. It will not be our social media profile that our family and friends spend time discussing, or will it?

Social media has soared because of the ease to throw anything out there compared to the time it takes to speak with a purposeful thought. Social media has also allowed the kooks of society to find each other and made it significantly easier to spread false and purposely misleading information to malleable minds.

I recall what life was like pre-social media, for we were the last reality generation and the last generation to spend more time outdoors than in. Social media was with a finger not thumbs and we used it to turn a dial seven times to get one voice. If we wanted more voices, we made more calls, usually after parental permission. Instagram is now parenting our kids.

I am a big user of social media, but I believe soon Facebook and other large companies will encounter some significant regulation. One, because we have given up our time and focus too cheaply. Second, because Facebook and other platforms have made a fortune off our information while allowing the spread of false information with minimal fact-checking.

Students are getting a lot of their education via social media, not through research to discern and create a unique, factual answer, and I predict that more schools will recognize the distraction that smartphones are in the educational setting and ban them.

Social media is now the size that private decisions can monopolize and persuade large portions of the population. Some will suggest the choice is to turn off social media, but can we?

Social media is here to stay, just like the need for electricity or any other widespread uses in society, but it can be regulated. Television is ubiquitous now and in the beginning, its inventor saw it as an educational tool. Once money interests realized we would rather be entertained than educated, regulation followed to ensure real news was reported, advertisement of certain products was prohibited, and the monopoly of providers was discouraged.

There was a reason for all these things: to protect the common good. Common goodness has been in our cultural DNA since the American revolution. Sometimes it goes astray, such as the inability to strike down slavery early or prohibition of the 1920s. But most of the time, protecting the common good works, whether through consumer safety measures, preserving equal access through net neutrality, or laws against pollution. There is always some excess to be capped.

I was reminded of these things in a recent discussion with a colleague at work. It was obvious that both of us had sampled our respective sources of information and arrived at our own conclusions, yet the conversation was a good one.

Nothing can replace the face-to-face dialogue with a sincere effort to reach common ground and take stock of the biases and inaccuracies in some of our sources. If social media works to destroy community, it should be regulated like a drug. In the meantime make sure your eyes are looking ahead, use public spaces, and read good books. Your time alive is more valuable than as a Zuckerberg algorithm.

Daniel Parker is an author, educator, and public servant. He may be reached at 13scribes@gmail.com. He will be at My Favorite Books on Saturday, Feb 9th 11 am -1 pm with some of his books for sale.

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11 Responses to "Parker’s Perspective: Protecting the Common Good Against the Excess of Social Media"

  1. Avatar
    James   February 4, 2019 at 11:23 am

    The common good is nothing more than socialism.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Hope   February 4, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Tallahassee has its own version of tainted social media in The Usual Suspects

    This is a group of people that attempts to infiltrate themselves in politics and promote themselves Non-Stop via WCTV, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tallahassee Democrat, taxpayer dollars , and their own media businesses. We all know who they are.

    They attempt to manufacture Humanity, and suck out all the life and decency out of our Lives, politics, and quality of life.

    Finally, they have come full circle because they were not built on a solid foundation, but puffed up images of themselves that are now deflating.

    They are self-destructing before our eyes and enjoy the show because it’s long overdue.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Gabriel   February 5, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Popcorn and remote control ready!

      Reply
  3. Avatar
    Snidely Whiplash   February 4, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Should the radical left get its way of 70 – 90% tax on the rich, free this – free that, and implement its socalist agenda our Nation will quickly become a crap hole like Venezuela.
    Mr. Parker may then feel the jack-boot of government on his squirming kneck as they do so much more miserable regulation then just regulating social media.
    Do you think many in Venezuela even have access to social media now that they have eaten their zoo animals?
    Where is PETA on eating zoo animals anyway?

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Mr. Entropy   February 6, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Re: “…Facebook and other platforms have made a fortune off our information…”

    This is correct. Most think your PRIVACY is what they want, but it turns out your age, sex, political affiliation, SSN, etc., is worthless. What they want it your DATA. The below are a couple of ‘pull quotes’ from the below linked article and I’ve shortened things a bit with comments in brackets [ ]:

    “Even the tiniest interactions with an app or service give [THEM, i.e., Fakebook, Goog, Amozon] useful data in building a simulation of you.”

    “Imagine [THE DATA THEY COLLECT] is a stick figure [OF YOU] at first, and as you use the system, it’s collecting fingernail scraps and bits of hair,” Raskin told NBC News. “What do you care that you lost a fingernail scrap? But they’re putting it together into a model of you.”

    “With 2.3 billion users, “Facebook has one of these models for one out of every four humans on earth. Every country, culture, behavior type, socio-economic background,” said Raskin. “With those models, and endless simulations, the company can predict your interests and intentions before you even know them.”

    ““““““`
    So they know how to manipulate you by showing ads for things they know you’ll like, or spin news stories, etc. The article is long, in-depth and chilling.

    “Why data, not privacy, is the real danger “

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Mr. Entropy   February 6, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    For some reason the link did not get published in the above comment:

    https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/why-data-not-privacy-real-danger-n966621

    Reply
    • Daniel Parker
      Daniel Parker   February 6, 2019 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you for sharing, and for reading.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Mr. Entropy   February 8, 2019 at 10:29 am

        Well it was a good article, one that I agree with and wanted to add a tangential coda to.

        My wife and I frequently walk around Lake Ella late afternoons/early evenings for pleasant exercise and we both marvel at the people, couples, young and old alike also doing so while completely absorbed in their cellphones/devices. It’s a wonder some don’t walk into the water they’re so distracted. People sitting on benches facing the lake, but only noticing the screen in their hands. Folks in their vehicles nearby, engines running again fully engrossed in texting the only redeeming grace is they’re not driving whilst doing it.

        Unless it’s Food Truck/Bandstand Thursday evening, most of the people are lost in the alternate universe of their addicting thumbed keyboard and screen.

        Me, I have a Blackberry with no “apps” on it since it’s just for me it’s a mobile phone.

        Thank you for your article.

        Reply
      • Avatar
        Mr. Entropy   February 8, 2019 at 10:30 am

        Well it was a good article, one that I agree with and wanted to add a tangential coda to.

        My wife and I frequently walk around Lake Ella late afternoons/early evenings for pleasant exercise and we both marvel at the people, couples, young and old alike also doing so while completely absorbed in their cellphones/devices. It’s a wonder some don’t walk into the water they’re so distracted. People sitting on benches facing the lake, but only noticing the screen in their hands. Folks in their vehicles nearby, engines running again fully engrossed in texting the only redeeming grace is they’re not driving whilst doing it.

        Unless it’s Food Truck/Bandstand Thursday evening, most of the people are lost in the alternate universe of their addicting thumbed keyboard and screen.

        Me, I have a Blackberry with no “apps” on it since it’s for me it’s a mobile phone.

        Thank you for your article.

        Reply

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