I watched the video of Carole Cadwallader deliver her talk at TedX2019. There was a tremor of nerves in her voice that disappeared as passion for the truths she documented took over. Interestingly, her presentation was slotted into the category, Truth! Carole is a journalist with The Observer and researcher with Cambridge Analytics, the organization that presented detailed evidence of how Facebook influenced the Brexit vote with a campaign of lies and distortion. She quoted Parliament: “Democracy is now broken. The 100 years of laws to protect it have been circumvented by technology.” Watch the video. It will be an excellent investment of your 15 minutes. TedX: Democracy Is Broken
This confirmation of what you already suspected is a hard truth to face. Social Media brings us many benefits. We can have relationships with people no matter where they live; make new friends, stay in touch with old friends and family, give and receive support for living. This wiring together of cultures has the potential to increase understanding and collaboration around the world. And like any tool that can be used for either good or ill, it has been used to pit people against each other and stimulate the fear that produces violence. We deal with the tragic aftermath we see all around us. Right now, we’re at a major choice point.
Social Media is a powerful tool to grow a business by effectively and easily interacting with thousands of people. I’m an author. Social media is the most important tool an author has to help her readers find her books, buy them, and share their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm + sharing = sales = money = paying the bills. It can also do serious damage through unwarranted attacks by individuals, through manipulating algorithms or through direct interference in how information is placed or lost. Unfortunately, mob rule also finds an audience on Social Media. Misunderstanding - whether accidental or intentional - stirs up whoever is most frustrated and like a hungry lynch mob, groups go after the target of the moment.
Authors have been advised for some time now to build their email list rather than be dependent on a sometimes benevolent, sometimes malignant, 3rd party platform. There are certainly alternatives to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of which are owned and operated by the same group. If you decide to get off those giants, you have to find alternatives and learn to use them. You have to sacrifice the greater, supposedly-predictable impact these platforms offer with their greater reach for a lesser one with potential. With so much competing activity on social media, it’s increasingly difficult to have an impact without it. But - do you want to be part of a system that collects your information to manipulate you, not only into buying certain products but into voting and behaving certain ways? That perpetrates crimes to destroy innocent people, whole cultures? Where is your moral line?
Social Media is a powerful way to offer resources and support to people struggling with devastating illness and trauma. It’s even a powerful way to expose corruption and criminal activity. This discussion is a Case in point. The questions to consider are these: can it be controlled? Who is able - and willing - to do so? What are the consequences of doing nothing?
Right now we see social media triggering hatred and violence against those hated. The biggest challenge is the difficulty in knowing what’s true. We’re trained to believe what we see, but technology can make visuals that look real and call them news. When you get overwhelmed by angry people spouting insults are each other, you tend to retreat into the nearest familiar-feeling shelter, usually not checking to see whether that too is a false front. Yet social media also offers spiritual, heart-centered folk a platform in which to meditate together, learn together, know what situations to pray for. So is it better to withdraw in order to protect the details of your life from being used against you? To avoid the risk of being tricked by lies? (Spoiler alert: you’ve already been tricked, it hasn’t stopped, and it’s not likely to in the near future.) This is what makes it so difficult to know what to do. We’re rarely aware of how much we’re managed by technology.
Can we - how can we - keep technology a blessing rather than a curse? How can we make a corrupt system hold those whose corruption makes them rich, accountable? What can I do? What can you do?
One thing you can do is talk about it. Share what you learn on the platforms in question. Once you stop being afraid of facing the collusion - once you take a stand – you find other people who have stopped being afraid and are taking a stand. As your community grows, people will have ideas. Solutions will appear. We can’t sit around waiting for someone else to take the lead. They may or may not, but Carole Cadwalleder already did. She told us truth and gave us evidence to support it. Change begins with one step, one stand, the courage to face the truth, and the courage to choose who to be. Do you really want to live in what is already being called the “post-truth era?” When you look back on this pivotal time, who will you wish you had been?
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At first, CyberShark was a lark – a cool, high-tech game. As CEO, Ben flexed his Matt Damon swagger and cocky grin and charmed investors. His gift for gab didn’t hurt, either.
It was still a lark when the tidal wave of money rolled in.
It stopped being fun when the Beta test flopped and Ben realized he was completely on the hook for the whole damn project. Worse, this failure involved not just science – not his forté – but quantum science, the modern explanation for how spiritual practices affect the whole, bloody universe. Where the hell should he even start?
Wait! Terra! His crazy cousin was always lighting candles and burning sage. Hadn’t she even traveled places to do retreats, quests, or something? Would she still be mad at him for yanking her chain when they were teenagers? Maybe, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
“I’m Terra Kano. I was a Sheriff’s Detective until my cousin Ben’s panicked call for help. I was shocked. Ben always dissed my magic, but now his new technology won’t work without it – the magic of pure intention and humility, that is. Ben’s life and fortune don’t mean diddly squat now that the Slave Masters are after his invention. If Ben doesn’t master spiritual magic, we’re toast. Every human on the planet could be enslaved…forever!
I have to help him, right? So let’s do this thing!”