Is it Safe to Speak?
So this is what being 'canceled' feels like.
My breath catches as I as I whisper to myself, “What the fuck?”
So it has happened, I got the dreaded, “Your account is in violation of community standards” message from Meta.
I wish I didn’t care. I wish that the fear that I cannot now access the 2,000 plus people who make up my Facebook community was irrelevant for me and for my business. But the truth is: most of us who run a business these days depend on social media for communication, marketing, and promotion.
I frequently use Messenger to communicate with clients. I often create events from my business page. I run several groups with several hundred participants covering topics from trauma and authentic expression, to creating a safe space for women to share our journeys and stories. I just joined several new writing groups that I was excited about participating in.
What did I do wrong? I honestly don’t know.
As we see an increase in the role of AI in our daily lives, I have also noticed a decrease in nuance and intelligent communication. People use ‘emojis’ to convey their feelings instead of words (which, in a sense, is a bit of throwback to Egyptian times and the use of hieroglyphics). It, however, does not speak much to our ability to actually articulate what we are feeling.
And when it comes to feeling and detecting nuance, AI is incapable.
I have seen fellow colleagues who are relationship coaches, body coaches, and sex coaches changing the lettering of certain words like ‘sex’ to ‘s3x’, in order to foil the Facebook algorithm. Whereas I understand that we need to apply measures to provide public safety, we are also slowly eroding the edges between ‘social responsibility’ and censorship.
Oh, but wait. Censorship only applies to the public domain and in a world that is consistently succumbing to the privatization of everything—the public domain is disappearing.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Reddit, and even Google, all are privately owned businesses for which the First Amendment is inapplicable.
Anyone who cries, “Censorship!” on any of these forums is essentially shouting into the void. As privately owned media companies they can promote whatever narrative and silence or ‘cancel’ whomever they choose. And social dissension is not actually even necessary. A simple misunderstanding on the part of a bot about a word that could be used in the context of either violence or food preparation as my recent use of the word ‘chopped’, in reference to ‘cleaning up’ my ‘friend’s’, list recently proved.
The alleged social ‘safeguarding’ in these forums is nothing more than a filtering system, run by bots, that determines which words could be used to incite violence, but which also buries any information that has been deemed not viable by people who program them.
Facebook, for example, has made its stance clear on where it stands in regards to the COVID 19 narrative. They have, for years, been flagging anything that goes against what mainstream media and ‘science’ (read that as: vaccine-promoted propaganda) has to say about the situation. They have gone as far as flagging any articles that provide information on how to ‘boost’ your immune system as fake news. I have largely steered clear of that particular discussion in the social media scene and for the most part in other arenas, including private conversations, as it is my own official stance that consenting adults have the right to do with their bodies as they so choose—but do not have the right to force mandates on anyone else’s.
In retrospect, I rather regret not talking about it more (as well as some other social issues I find especially disturbing), but my view on life tends to be, “Live and let live and mind your own fucking business.”
Though I stayed clear of the ‘vaccine discussion’ for the most part, I did once get ‘flagged’ for promoting false information when I shared a meme about how that gunky stuff that we wake up with in the morning, crusting our eyes shut, is left-over amorous evidence of spider’s nightly emissions from them mating with our eyelashes. I was, in that instance, ‘slapped on the wrist’ for sharing ‘fake news.’
I honestly don’t know what I have done to warrant a permanent Facebook ban. My account is officially ‘disabled’ with no clear path on how to challenge the ruling that I can only assume was made by a bot.
The actual dehumanization that is occurring within this process is rather shocking. No one will talk to me. No one will tell me, specifically, what I did to incur this sudden cancellation.
Typically, I post ‘selfies’ with little journal-like entries, occasionally some sexy poetry, advice on how to take care of yourself, to tend trauma, and maintain some sense of self in a world that is working overtime to erode it. I had just committed to 30 days of doing Facebook live videos from my page, a privilege that was just days ago reinstated. Occasionally, I make inspiring memes and I do enjoy a bit of satire, as well as, once in while, poking at the algorithm and the robots that run it.
Never have I (to quote the FB community standards violations): engaged in incitation of violence, written about self-harm, written about explicit sexuality, bullied or harassed anyone, engaged in sexual exploitation of another adult or child, coordinated or promoted a crime, affiliated with dangerous individuals or organizations, solicited sex, nor stolen anyone’s intellectual property.
No, I am not a model citizen; I am a fringe dweller. I am a cult-survivor, a recovered meth-addict, a writer, a healer, and a consciousness provocateur. I am a self-proclaimed witch and an advocate for common sense.
Amidst a sea of inauthenticity and professional chicanery, I am often a quiet island for people to land, to catch their breath, to release a giggle or some tears, to feel seen and held for a moment and to know that they—in their own struggles—are not alone.
I am frustrated. I am needing to promote the Dream Keys course that begins on October 31. I was planning on running a group Messenger chat and a private Facebook group for the class. I’ve done my groups that way for years.
Reluctantly, in the mere hours after being ‘banned’, I am uncomfortably confronting my dependence on this platform (Facebook) and I do not like the way it feels! In the past, when I have taken ‘Facebook breaks’, I always leave Messenger on my phone to maintain contact with my clients and now that, too, is suddenly gone.
I feel my brain scrambling for the things that will need to be done to fill in the spaces that the convenience of this utterly unreliable platform has priorly afforded.
Over the years, I have seen many people ‘leaving Facebook’ for this very reason: the ability to communicate in an authentic way is slowly being eroded. I’m a little nauseated by the false sense of security I had allowed to develop and the underlying arrogance whenever someone shared about being ‘banned’, ‘shadow banned’, ‘jailed’, or ‘restricted’ in their access to the platform. But is that not often what we think (historically) as we are watching the deterioration of other’s liberties. “That will never happen to me.” Well, it did and it can.
The changes in language and the way that it needs to be expressed—so as not to offend anyone or now ‘trigger the algorithm’—are beginning to feel suspiciously like 1984’s ‘thinks-peak’, ‘doublespeak’, and ‘newspeak’ the means that the imaginary totalitarian regime used to control the thought processes of the masses.
Only this isn’t pretend and though 1984 was meant to be a fictitious, if cautionary, tale some factions of society (and our own psyches) have gone and treated that damn book as it it were a manual.
If we cannot say what we think and feel, we cannot write it, share it, or in other ways articulate our values and the workings of our inner world, we truly are descending into what can only be described as an Orwellian society or, more terrifyingly—a dystopian nightmare.
Please, I ask, if you read this and are on social media, give it a share as I no longer can. I think free-speech (not with impunity, but with discretion and responsibility), is an important human right. It concerns me that so many people are either taking it for granted or leveraging it to be abusive or dismissive.
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