Archive for July, 2014
It will come as no surprise to anyone when I say I can live my life happily knowing I’ll never be President. A line taken from Shakespeare’s Henry IV reads, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Pundits talk about it all the time, the vast difference between the faces of a man when he enters the presidential office to when he leaves it. Barack Obama has faced some of the staunchest congressional opposition in history; the wrinkles and grey hair tell the story. Even now, as the Middle East melts into a multi-country war zone and our Southern border is overrun by displaced children, Barack Obama continues to face severe criticism for nearly everything. For a president who centered their campaign around the notions of hope and change, very little of either are present today.
Sometimes, for a bit of dark humor, I’ll turn on 95.3 FM which happens to broadcast Fox News in my local area. I’ll catch bits and pieces of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity absolutely eviscerating the president on anything that might be in the news on that given day. Sean Hannity just the other day was calling Obama a “radical who is sticking to his radical views.” Hannity also went on to join the clamoring over the president’s apparent refusal to visit the overcrowded Mexican/Texas border, stating the president has some sort of ulterior motive by allowing these children into the country. Obama noted that it would only take a small bit of legislation to stymie the influx of children and help secure the border for the limited future. Obama also mentioned that he was not interested in “photo-ops” and that visiting the border will contribute absolutely nothing towards solving the crisis. In a recurring theme, Obama stated that if we make this less about politics and more about doing what is necessary, there would be far less of a problem. I don’t expect any forced unity from either side of the political table, but I can certainly tell you that I wouldn’t want to be faced with the choices of one Barack Obama.
At Can the Man we frequently discuss using platforms created by the Man. Our early discussions led to a maxim that Randall Secky (Co-Founder of CTM) and I long ago came up with: “sometimes you have to use the Man’s tools in the quest to free yourself from the Man.” This paradox becomes clear when looking at CTM’s presence on Facebook.
It is no secret that Mark Zuckerberg is almost universally hated. At CTM the word hate is rarely bandied about, and usually reserved for people who are on the Dick Cheney/Rupert Murdoch level of abomination. Although Zuckerberg has not reached the level of Master of the Universe-wannabe/mega-asshole, many argue that he is on his way. In the cozy, rural town of Sherman, NY, where I was raised, the elders in the local saloons often speak of Zuckerberg with disdain scowling “He’s ruined more relationships than alcohol” and “If I ever caught him in the street I would kick his ass until the police pull me off and take me to jail.” Some view these sentiments as over-the-top, but others say that the criticism of Mr. Facebook isn’t harsh enough.
Personally, I don’t trust Zuckerberg nearly as far as I could throw him. I believe that he would have no qualms about selling anyone’s personal information to a nefarious shadow government for a couple of bucks; an assertion supported by some of Facebook’s recent misdeeds. However, I do still use his Facebook. I distrust it as a form of social media and use it infrequently (and when I do it is begrudgingly). I justify my use with two main reasons: convenience and Can the Man. I use it for the convenience of wishing a distant cousin a happy birth day who I have not spoken to in so long that I have lost her phone number. I also use the CTM group page, which is a valuable resource for us to connect with other writers and interested parties. The presence on Facebook certainly adds an important dimension to CTM, at a price we can afford: $0. I am aware that by using Facebook we are contributing to Zuckerberg’s virtual empire and in doing so are paying him not with dollars but with information. However, many speculate that information alone will soon not be enough.
Zuckerberg has long planned to monetize the site, hoping to reap even greater profits for his multi-billion-dollar social network. Already any group can pay to have their page promoted artificially by Facebook’s autonomous advertising, but sources (such as independent journalist Luke Rudkowski) have confirmed that Facebook is in the process of not allowing group pages to post anything without paying. This will fundamentally change the free exchange of ideas on the site by forcing independent media (with tight budgets) like CTM and Rudkowski’s wearechange.org to search for other outlets. Even more surprisingly, Rudkowski asserts that he had a page with 400,000 Likes that was taken away from his group by Facebook and sold to Time Warner.
Spoiler Alert: Facebook doesn’t play fair.
So what choices do those of us in independent media have other than useful media leviathans like Facebook that indiscriminately focus on using public ideas for profit? Sadly there is little we can do but fight the good fight by providing incisive content that throws light onto social issues that the mainstream media and Men like Zuckerberg would rather leave in the dark. If we are shut down on Facebook we will simply groan and find a new outlet because those driven to find answers and expose the truth do so any way that they can. Where do we start? In the words of Rudkowski (from the link below you can see his entire interview with Max Keiser) we must “build…real alternative media.” We need another social media platform that supports content generated by independent media resources like CTM. That is a future we can all imagine and strive for.