DAN YORKE – The social media problem is about more than Trump

DAN YORKE – The social media problem is about more than Trump

Facebook and Twitter have shut down Donald Trump.

After much internal debate, the billionaire ownership teams of each platform reached their threshold of nervous responsibility for the weapon they had become for the president. Mounting concerns about the truth of his “stolen election” claims had resulted in almost non-stop “disclaimers” added to his posts. Trump never relented. He pushed the “big lie” and called them “big tech,” stoking the flames of violence.

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was more than these social media capitalists could bear. They saw on live television and streaming on their spaces the clear evidence of how effective their businesses could be in organizing destruction.

So now there will be even more hand-wringing and doubtless more government plays for regulations and accountability, meaning penalty, for the offending media and its users. Trump has been looking to stick the social media companies with elimination of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Act. In part it protects the companies from liability for the serious trouble its users create. Donald has been convinced it provides protection for liberal networking and content while hypocritically and maddeningly demanding unabridged flow of his own.

How we deal with social media is a really big conversation. Too big, actually, to reconcile that it has changed all human behavior, mostly for the worse. While many of us think the former president has been out of control, we have no interest in looking at each of ourselves.

For decades now, we have been fueled by our own digital adrenaline and become stars of our own shows. The technology has eliminated too much of our authenticity.

We used to tell someone we loved them privately. We used to congratulate our kids for their hard work and peak moment successes of growing up within our intimate family structure. We used to be satisfied to tell post-event stories of a great night out or a vacation. We used to be smart enough to admire and respect expertise.

Now, we pronounce our love for a spouse for all of our followers to see. We write heartfelt essays about how proud we are of our children so that others may post responsive and repetitive congratulations, but really, we just want them to see how great our parenting is. We make sure everyone knows where we are and what we’re doing at the moment we’re doing it. And we post unvetted garbage and opine about things that we know nothing about.

No doubt the digital world has improved our quality of life in so many ways. The internet has made the world so quick, accessible and smaller. But the price we have paid is manifested by what we’ve allowed Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other platforms to do to us. We’ve been baited with fascinating networking and information systems and allowed deep damage to our psyches, so much so that our natural healthy modesty has morphed to an incessant addiction to attention.

Easy to say for a guy who for all his career has paid the bills creating conversation and repeating his own name on the radio, television and now in print.

Touché.

Why someone would pursue a professional life of opining in any traditional or new media is a possible worthy question for another day.

Why a former president rose and fell on the social media sword is no doubt worthy of study as well.

Why social media has stolen our overall humility and sense of self seems a whole lot more crucial.

Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC

Comments

Good points all, Dan. While the national discourse has been coarsening for years, the decision to ban the former president, while lauded by liberals, is the first step to censoring us all. I must note that Amazon unilaterally shut down more than 10 million Parler accounts because they didn't like the "moderation" there. Before anyone yells that this is a private company and they can do what they want, I stipulate that they CAN, but they should NOT. If they do it to them, they can do it to you. It seems clear to me that Twitter, Facebook and the other large platforms have chosen to embrace the cancel culture and I hope it's the beginning of the end for them.

Hi Dan,

This was a good read. I liked how you touched upon we all used to say things in private to our loved ones (which I still do) I don’t need people to see everything online. I understand people are upset about the former President being banned from social media. All we have to do is look at the domestic terrorists that stormed our capital. That was a result of Mr.Trump misinforming his supporters constantly for four years. Just like we can’t yell fire in a public place, the social media platforms need to hold their users accountable. Mr.Trump constantly lost case after case about election fraud and many of the judges he appointed. Also, many of the states he challenged were also Republican ran. Mr. Trump lost because he was his own worst enemy plain and simple. Time for us to move on as a country.