Dean Clough

June 11, 2021

Portico Darwin: Please Delete Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp


That's what I wanted for the title of today's post, but I can't use the strikethrough formatting in the subject line.  Whatever today's post is called, I hope you'll consider deleting these apps from your phones and your lives.

Dramatic?  I don't think so.  I believe Facebook has uniquely exploited human emotion in a way that is wholly complicit in America's vivid polarization and seeming demise.

That's because our friend Mark Zuckerberg figured out early that rage engages.  And because Facebook knows so much about you, advertisers can buy their way right into your life.  And you're on Facebook longer to see advertising because it holds your attention because you're engaged because your news feed has you enraged.  It's brilliant, if not sociopathic.   

Oh, and a lot of what's in a given person's news feed is objectively not true. 

Facebook is directly culpable for the malevolent attitudes out there resulting from their elevation and promotion of fake news and disinformation, which they know enrages and thus engages, yet refuse to moderate.  We thus have large swaths of the population that are dangerously misinformed directly due to their reliance on Facebook (and their subsidiary tentacles, Instagram and WhatsApp) as their primary news source.

OK, no doubt Zuckerberg and his pals are big-time achievers and what they created is genius and beloved by many as a means for seeing little Bobby's first steps.  They deserve much of their success. 

But to that, I also say:  To those whom much is given, much is expected.   Sure they earned a lot of their success, but a lot of it has been luck, and there's also plenty of dirt on Mark's hands.

They've failed miserably in their responsibility to the general public to do their best to keep the platform free of misinformation, hate, and incitement to violence.  Instead, they've done the opposite, and continue to monetize the polarization they themselves foment.

Please know I am a staunch advocate of free speech.  But please also know the Supreme Court itself has specifically ruled the First Amendment does not extend to speech that incites violence or creates a public risk ("you can't falsely scream 'fire' in a crowded theater"). 

Finally, remember that while we all have freedom of speech as Americans, we don't have a Constitutional guarantee to freedom of reach.  That covers me, as well as former Presidents.

Are you still on Facebook?  Do you think my request is drastic and out of line?  I'd especially love to hear from Facebook fans that disagree with my stridency - as always, your reply will be printed unedited and without wisecracks.

(Breaking news:  this was published on Wednesday, but I didn't see it until after I had written today's post.  Perhaps this amazing 8 minute video bolsters my case?)

10 seconds of seriousness.  As I've said before, It gives me sincere pleasure when one of my brilliant friends has taken the time to not only read something I've written, but to send a thoughtful and detailed response.  That's the case here, with my close friend Byron Browne IV's response to my Four Americas post.   Check this out.

"I have some quick thoughts on how we got here.  Most of it starts with the massive wealth transfer from the lower and middle class to the upper classes that started under Nixon (perhaps as a reaction to the Great Society) but really took off under Reagan.
I believed the upper class, consciously or unconsciously, saw an opportunity to ride discontent over Great Society progress in areas of poverty and racial equality to push concepts like tax cuts for the wealthy under the brand of “trickle down economics” and movement away from business and state pension systems to the 401K model.  

These two “innovations” are, in my opinion, two of the most significant contributors to the massive wealth transfer from lower/middle class to the upper class that has occurred since then and a major reason why we have so much inequality today.  I think some people started to become more aware of what was happening in the first Bush presidency which may have inspired him to reverse his position on “no new taxes” and propose a tax increase during the early 90’s.  This is when we see money in politics start to really take hold, even before Citizen’s United cemented it as part of our political system.  

To counter the move toward a redistribution of wealth thru tax policy started under Bush and pushed forward under Clinton, the wealthy started sending more money to the Dark Lord, Newt Gingrich, and his ilk.  His “Contract for America” and philosophy to block any progress by the opposition party brought identity politics to a whole new level.  His timing with the advent of the internet created a perfect storm for broadcasting identity politics and tribalism across the US which has accelerated with the arrival of Social Media.  These identity politics has distracted Americans from paying attention to the massive wealth transfer that was occurring.  

The really fucked up yet brilliant part of it all is that the people who are losing out the most are also the ones that are most likely to support the narratives that justify the wealth transfer.  I’m referring to the people that typically fall into the Free America and Real America groups. 
I’d like to think that there was some organized conspiracy that put this plan into action, but I think it was simple human greed and historical timing that made it all possible.  Unless we can reverse the massive wealth transfer that continues to take place, I don’t see how we can emerge from where we are now.
I could go on and on, but have to attend a call with my fellow tech bro’s from 'Smart America' "

Byron, thank you, my friend.  You really added a lot to my original post with your great prose and I am very grateful.

P.S.  Some believe it was indeed an organized conspiracy - check out Kurt Andersen's "Evil Geniuses".

On the decidedly lighter side:  As the video itself borders on the obscene (at least for those of you bulge-sensitive), I will not name the reader that sent this in.  But it is worth watching if only to witness a band that's gotten perhaps a smidge too much creative control.  It is Van Halen at their peak, with the heretofore unseen video of "So This is Love".  You have been warned.

Thank you to any one that is reading this blog.

Apropos to today's post in terms of the name of the band, and the title of the album.  Here is another of America's best bands, and an album that resonated everywhere in music.  Here are Talking Heads and their seminal "Remain in Light".  
(P.S.  I found the autobiography of Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz to be unusual for the genre in terms of the quality of its writing and general lucidity.  A must-read if you're a fan of this vital band or maybe even if not.)

(P.P.S.  I might as well round out my list of America's all-time best bands.  Criteria:

  • Some degree of longevity
  • Some degree of popularity
  • A meaningful live presence

In no particular order, America's 5 Top Bands:

Pearl Jam
Grateful Dead

I welcome your comments on my list, snide and all.  But you must name the band that is to be removed, and the justification, in order to add one of your own.)

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.