A couple of months ago, I left Facebook. I grew tired of its pointlessness. Its impersonal sharing of personal moments, bored me to tears. Its perception of being in touch while actually being far away, and alone, didn’t do the trick for me. I do not have the desire to share my life with the world; I do not desire the fake impression of being popular because I get lots of likes on my semi-funny posts, or cute cat-videos. That filled the bucket for me, but the drop that made it overflow, was when it became known that through Facebook, at least one shady company had elections for sale. Cambridge Analytica was the scapegoat, but I do not believe that they are the only ones who did what they did. In this day and age there are very, very few things only one person, only one company, can do. Especially shady stuff. I don’t know who the others are. Their only way to stay profitable, is to remain secret.
As news comes out that Facebook has been hacked a couple of times, and millions upon millions of people’s details are up for grabs, I’m glad I left when I did. I wonder though, as Facebook never deletes anything, was my data a victim too? And, though Facebook has promised to get in contact with the people who were targeted, will they if my data is now out there? Probably not…
I did stay on Twitter, though. For fun – to have something to do while waiting for a train. I did have occasionally interesting discussions with people whom I disagreed with – and still disagree with, but their way of arguing with me has led me to respect them. They seem to stand in life the way I do: I have certain ideas about where I think the world should be headed, and I have certain ideas on how the world could get there… But I am very well aware that my ideas aren’t perfect; and I’m very well aware that I don’t know everything. Especially not how the future will turn out – even if we follow my ideas to the letter. And on that basis, it’s fun and interesting to discuss pretty much everything – provided the counterpart holds the same position about flawed ideas. That’s something we can talk about; arguments with people who don’t claim to know everything, and remain respectful, sharpen your views. And, as I said, makes the encounter one that leads to mutual respect – even though you continue to disagree.
I admit, I’ve also lost my cool a few times. Ones I stated that I thought Donald Trump wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and got immediate verbal abuse thrown at me – so I threw some back, and then people complained that I was unwilling to talk. Another time someone stated that almost all of the bad things in the world were caused by white men, so we should have a racial bias against white men. Me, being a white man, pretended to think this was about me, in response to which someone asked ‘why do you apply this tweet to yourself’? And in an attempt to be racially incorrect, in order to show the other person a mirror, I used the N-word (in combination with a typical Dutch discussion about Black Pete, Saint Nick’s slave assistant over here, that people of colour apply to themselves too; a little side-note follows at the bottom). I probably shouldn’t have – the mirror effect didn’t arrive on the other end, that’s for sure. I don’t believe that becoming racially biased against white men is going to rid the world of racism. But perhaps I’m an idiot. For this misstep I was, quite forcefully told off – and rightfully so.
But that’s about it. The vast majority of my experiences on Twitter were summed up pretty good by James Patrick (@J_amesp), who said: “The screaming into the void, while being constantly proven right and simultaneously ignored, is just pointless.”. I’m of course not so sure about the ‘constantly being proven right’ bit, see above. But what I said was largely ignored. Occasionally one or two people responded. But in a digiverse of several million ‘souls’, that’s not much. And even the ones with a massive reach, rarely reach a million responses.
So here is why I’m leaving Twitter too – my last anti-social media account alive (except WhatsApp). It’s utter pointless to go on-line and scream at the top of your fingertips that the world is going to shit if people continue to be so biased against everyone with different views. This anti-social media is spurring on the polarization we’re seeing in society for it’s so easy to block out opposing views, to block out views you don’t like; and it’s so easy to find a few people who like what you say (even though it’s bullshit), which makes you feel strong and emboldened to continue shouting whatever non sense pops in your mind… Social Media is not the place to openly discuss new ideas (I strongly oppose the view of Dutch politician Thierry Baudet in this), for reasons stated above: you never have to respond to people who disagree with you. And as long as you’re not forced to counter critique on your views, it’s not an open discussion. It’s just screaming into the void hoping people will follow you. And that, my dear readers, is not just a waste of time, it’s a way for this world to go to shit.
There are only two people I’ve encountered on Twitter that I regret not talking to anymore. Just two. I highly enjoyed our discussions, even though with one of them we barely moved an inch closer together. But I highly respect the both of them – even though I’ve never met either, and perhaps I never will, as we live on opposite ends of the world. Given the chance, I would jump at it.
As for the rest of you, I’m giving you the ultimate block. I am leaving Twitter – it should be obvious to you why. I’m going to live among real people again.
P.S. I’m not re-reading this, forgive the typos.
P.P.S. As for the Saint Nick and Black Pete’s issue in The Netherlands, it’s basically this: when racism against black people was still completely normal (the 19th century), the Dutch invented a ‘tradition’ where Saint Nick and his black slave assistant would come to the country to bring presents to the kids. Pretty much like Santa, but on December 5th, and with black clown-looking suckers instead of elves. Anno 2018 this kind of racism is no longer normal and people of colour have a problem with Pete being black. They want him to be different colours. They present it as if that would solve racism in the country, and they seem to recognise themselves in the slave position of Black Pete. As my kids don’t care what colour Black Pete is, neither do I. For the rest I refrain from commenting on the topic.