Social Media In Four Words: Lord Of The Flies

There’s hardly a moment that goes by in today’s social media connected world that isn’t filled with the most pustulent, indignant filled outrage.

Regardless of the moment here’s what you’ll find: someone, somewhere is just coming to realize that for no reason other than someone they do not know has decided – they need to be destroyed with the most vile laced hatred, publicly. And in some cases, it’s far worse. i.e., open calls for hands-on violence against their property, family members, employment, and more.

This is what describes social media today. A far cry from the place once described as, “To make connections and keep in touch with family and friends.” of yesterday, is it not?

The reason for the “Lord Of The Flies” reference was in response to a repeated question I’ve been asked of late, coming from quite a few differing sources such as friends and family, as well as other media queries.

It goes something like this: “Do you think social media has become a cesspool? And if so, why don’t you think Zuckerberg, or Dorsey et al. aren’t cleaning it up rather, than seeming to do (as in defend) the opposite?”

Here’s how I usually respond:

Although the first part of your question i.e., “Is it a cesspool?” can be answered with one word, “Yes.” The second part on the, “why?” takes a few more, but in that few more is contained the entire metaphor, or analogy to answer it.

For me, the allegory contained within the story of “Lord Of The Flies” (William Golding, 1954 Faber and Faber™) clearly depicts what is transpiring within these enclaves. i.e., It’s children with no real understanding of right vs wrong, with either a stunted moral understanding, or worse, completely twisted ones.

Primal instincts rule and are enforced, right alongside where the fear of being at the mercy of the group or crowd commands one to invent rationalizations why they must either conform or, join in. Irrespective of how unsavory or, outright dangerous the calls to conform may be. i.e., Join in, conform – or perish.

Only escape from the “island” sort of speak, allows any semblance of back to reality and/or the real-world.

And there lies the issue (in my opinion) that gives one a glimpse as to why the figure heads of these companies seem to defend the indefeasible. But there’s a twist to all that “defending” that many are missing, which I believe helps prove or, at least, help back-up my insinuation.

Let’s use two easily remembered uproars that transpire all the time on Twitter™.

First: Twitter users are routinely and relentlessly calling out Jack Dorsey for “allowing” the President to tweet on demand. The furor over this has been worthy of the term hysterical. And it has not relented. You know what else has not relented? Mr. Dorsey’s tacit approval of his continuation. Again, to the absolute dismay and disgust of its most boisterous users.

Then there’s the other, which is: That same user base will repeat or display the same type of furor at Mr. Dorsey for some other infraction they deem as “unacceptable.” And with near immediacy Mr. Dorsey is back-peddling, apologizing, then openly agreeing with. Case in point: The Chick-fil-A® uproar.

So why the difference or, seemingly double standard toward his user base?

Trick question, there is no difference – if – you look at from the point of business. Here’s what I mean:

The President actively pushes the user base of outrage (which I’ll contend is the majority of all users on the platform) into action. i.e., to use and engage on the platform. If he were to stop or do something to which it would impact the President’s tweeting? The user base and active monthly user clicks would drop precipitously. i.e., Rage and hate is good for the “clicking business.”

And in the social media business – a click, is a click. Human or bot doesn’t matter, as long as that “click” will pass the ever evolving and encroaching terms advertisers will still pay for.

So, Mr. Dorsey offends both Chick-fil-A customers, as well as any business minded person with the sheer hypocrisy of business ethics he demonstrated in his statement. But remember – all those “business people” along with “Chick-fil-A customers” are minuscule in comparison to losing the user base of outrage. (all assumptive, of course)

This is why he seems to stay so steadfast to allowing the President to use the platform as he likes. Why? Because the outrage is good for business. Ban the President in a stance of solidarity with his customers – and the platform tanks. Are you beginning to see my point? If not, let’s move on to Facebook™, for another comparison.

There is probably no CEO of a major concern that appears to be more disingenuous every-time he speaks than Mark Zuckerberg. Regardless of the venue (think  U.S. Congress and the European Commission for just the two latest) people are always perplexed as to what he actually means when he makes statements or, trying to square up his actions with his prior words when it comes to Facebook’s policies.

Again, it’s as easy to see as the pillow he uses to prop himself up: Policy is driven by the user of outrage, whether it’s human or bots. All is theatrics as to not allow any disruption or, any tamping down of this user base. All others are expendable. Case in point:

Conservative views? Banned, shadow banned, or whatever else it’s called.

Remember when “Zuck and Crew” were so concerned over this set of users and publishers back not all that long ago? Remember there came a meeting where Mark stated as much as (paraphrasing) “We can’t even do what you’re accusing us of, nor do we want to.” Only to suddenly find the user base so outraged that it suddenly near overnight they openly admitted, “Oh yeah, by the way, umm… yeah we’re doing that.”

Today? It’s even worse. But (and it’s a very big but) then again, that depends on which user group you ask.

If one remembers back then, they openly affirmed that not only were they going to continue this process, but they would double, if not and triple down on it. And they have done just that. So much so that now the words contained in “The Declaration of Independence” have been flagged as “hate speech.”

Think that through for a moment, and as you do I want to ask you a question: “Where was the outrage of such from Facebook’s leadership, never mind just Mr. Zuckerberg?” Hint: __________(insert crickets here) Now, as you try to reconcile that bemusement let me ask you the “Why?” for this latest public defense. To wit:

Via Re-Code™: “Mark Zuckerberg clarifies: ‘I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.’”

It seems that the allowance or defense of the indefensible caused Mark to have to come out and clarify that although he finds it “offensive,” defending (or the allowing for publishing on his platform) this viewpoint is defensible.

So let’s see, the document that allows for this is hate speech, is what is considered the true hate speech, and is not worthy of defending in-kind or, in a manner so prominent, as what Mark rushed to the defense of what most consider truly offensive. Got that?

Oh, and just to clarify again – he finds it all, “deeply offensive.” But as  for the Declaration of Independence? I guess he and the crew had other more pressing engagements.

The reasoning is as clear, as it is simple:

Holocaust deniers are good for business. People defending the Declaration of Independence along with the Constitution? Not so much. i.e., They’ve left the “island” long ago, and those still remaining are no longer engaging or, just waiting for another platform or “ship” to come along. So, when it comes to this crowd or, group of users? “Zuck and Crew” could give less than two sh-ts. Those “clicks” are again probably minuscule in comparison to the clicking of bots and more of “outrage.” And “Zuck and Crew’s”  actions (or lack of) seem to prove this out.

As I iterated earlier, using a business lens – it all begins to make sense, does it not?

The other similarity between the analogy of the book and social is what transpires at the end – and I do believe we are witnessing just that.

For as the mob goes from publicly ridiculing and antagonizing those deemed “not with them” to finally taking up arms and hunting down their perceived adversaries – they begin to burn the entire island down, setting everything ablaze.

I believe that’s precisely where all of social media currently is. i.e., In the final stages of a woeful tale.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr