Social media has always been evil
Musk's acquisition of Twitter is probably not going to change anything
What a strange ol’ world we live in. I’m writing this week’s newsletter in amongst the news that Elon Musk is buying Twitter and, while I really didn’t want to focus on it (or mention it at all), it’s pretty difficult to avoid.
I use Twitter a lot, mainly to network with other freelancers but also as a procrastination tool. The response to this acquisition varies hugely, with some people vowing to leave the platform and never return, while others are happy to continue sipping the Kool-Aid until something directly affects them.
Either way, the reaction to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has left me a little dumbfounded. Did people actually think that social media platforms were ever really owned and operated by good people? I thought we were all burying our heads in the sand anyway, knowing fine well that our tech overlords would one day put a chip in our brain, and it would all be over.
Personally, I admire people who don’t use social media. I’ve deactivated Facebook a few times but my job means that I sometimes have to go on for client work, and I am too lazy to create a separate work account.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for 15 years, you’ll know that Facebook has been responsible for some downright villainous things - not least the genocide in Myanmar, the use of fake news in the Trump election and even the global network of paedophiles using the platform to source images of children (one of the many reasons why I won’t be posting photos of our baby on Facebook!)
I did make the conscious decision to stop using the platform regularly, however, by deleting the app on my phone. I still find myself scrolling in the browser from time to time, though.
Instagram is a tricky one for me because I do love the communities on there - I have met lots of greyhound owners and fellow book lovers via the platform over the years. But equally, I find it hard to ignore the voice in the back of my mind that’s harping on about how dangerous Instagram can be. In particular, the information leaked by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen last year about how the company has access to data showing Instagram is driving teenagers to eating disorders and even suicide.
So, in reality, social media has been a land of villainy for a long time. Not to mention the ethical grey areas surrounding the technology we use to access these platforms, like the underpaid and overworked staff at the famous “iPhone City” factory in Zhengzhou.
From the technology we use to the clothes we wear and even the food we eat, there’s really no way for us to leave only a positive impact on this world. I’m not sure how this newsletter became so nihilistic, so I can only apologise for that… but what I am really trying to say is that: if you are feeling disheartened by one or
The commonly quoted phrase “there can be no ethical consumption under capitalism” comes to mind here. Pair that with the break-neck speed that the internet churns out stories, I doubt we’ll even be hearing about Musk’s Twitter takeover in a few weeks’ time.
I’m no internet anthropologist, so I doubt I can accurately predict how this will impact our experiences online… but one thing’s for sure: social media has always been evil. Our only options as civilians are to abstain completely or try to use our platforms for good. Take this post from poverty activist and cookery book author Jack Monroe, for example (click the tweet to read Jack’s full thread):
There’s still a lot of good being done on Twitter, and hopefully, that will continue even as the platform’s new master rises to his throne. And if it doesn’t? We’ll all find somewhere else to hang out…
What do you think? Ironically, you can chat to me on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email.
📚The Service by Frankie Miren - Vice contributor Frankie Miren’s debut novel tells the story of sex work in London from the perspective of two prostitutes and a journalist. I haven’t seen many people talking about this one, but I thought it was fantastic. Miren’s writing style is great, and the way she explores the complex relationship between feminism and sex work (and the conflicting views that arise) is fascinating.
🎥 People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan - I signed up for a free trial of Sky Cinema purely so I could watch Grindah and the PJDN gang in their first big-screen flick. I love the TV show and have been rewatching it recently as my comfort show, and I often find that sitcoms don’t translate well to full-length feature films, but this was certainly the exception to that rule.
See you next Wednesday with more musings on topics that are important to me, including but not limited to: mental health, work/life balance, internet culture, and much more.
P.S. If someone forwarded you this or you arrived via Twitter, please consider subscribing!
Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:
21st April: Who are we really?
13th April: The ultimate gramma debate
6th April: Has social media killed nuanced debate?
30th March: Finding diamonds in the rough
23rd March: Do brands really care?
16th March: The future of this newsletter
9th March: Don’t shoot the messenger
2nd March: How to stay informed without going mad
23rd February: This is how it’s always been
16 February: You can only do your best
26 January: The way to a person’s heart