September 14th, 2020 by Jan

With Covid19, the west coast on fire, a crazy moth infestation, protests, riots, and insane, cruel and corrupt governments running rampart, asking, where are we going and why are we in this hand-basket? is a fair question.

All this is not just a 2020 thing. We’ve worked up to this horror over the years, day by day. We are dealing with the climate changes we were warned about and ignored. And a lot of the trouble we see now is the direct result of a life with the inter-web and social media addiction and manipulation.

I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix the other night and well, holy shit, or maybe I should say Holy shift! My pal, Art Baner has a pondering pipe and I’ve metaphorically borrowed it this last week.

I am not a shaker or mover in the world, and no one can call me an activist. However, I like to think, that while, I do what I can to make the world a better place, I know for certain, I don’t do all I can. I also know my privilege in just being able to say those words.

Ken and I are well and safe today. And, when so many others are not, it’s hard to justify my putting my head in the sand, yet, as I ponder…justify is exactly what I’m going to do.

I haven’t felt the need to post on this bloggy thing for a while — mostly because I use other outlets. I have a few internet pen pals and can ramble, vent, rant and pontificate each day quite easily. Because of the inter-web, I can share my dramas, traumas, joys and celebrations with a click of a button, and feel somewhat heard and seen. I’ve been grateful for these outlets, especially in these strange times of isolation and social distancing.

Before Covid19 I never watched the news. Today, I turn to Dr. Henry and the CBC more often. Sometimes I watch Trevor Noah but, I don’t like to get serious news from TV comedians or from postings and videos on Facebook.  I get outraged easily. I also realize,  that what news I do get, is from sought-after and like minded sources. Sources that are totally bias to my way of thinking. (An example: I would never watch FOX news, but do read Heather Cox Richardson.)

My father who was a life long member of the GOP, died before the last election. I wonder how he would react to the happenings of today. I like to think he would turn away,  yet… he watched Fox News a lot and believed it, so maybe not. I know we were divided on issues long before the current shit show.

I’m shocked when conservatives (in Canada as well as the US) vote for and pass horrible and hateful policies, putting money and pseudo religion first. I often asked myself, how can anyone think any of that is okay? How are we so different in our values and understandings of the world? Don’t they see and read what I do? Don’t they understand the world out there? How can anyone think that and not this?

The Social Dilemma show – clarified it for me.

No, “they” don’t see what I do and I don’t see what they are fed. The developers of social media make sure of this. I only see what they want to show me, because they’ve been watching me and notice the things I’ve “liked” and the searches I personally go on.

I see what I agree with, from people who agree with me. This is mainly because of what I post and click on. I also help “them” out by blocking or “friending” others depending on what they post and click on.

Social media creators admit that when they started these platforms, they had high hopes of joyful connections and bringing people together. And, they did. As a result,  I reap the benefit of an on-line community in so many ways.

Unfortunately a byproduct of social media has also divided us and has had a big hand in destroying democracy.


So, after some pondering… here is how I’m going to justify my continued use of social media.

I acknowledge and accept responsibility that by participating, I am part of the problem. In the same way I am participating in climate change by driving a car and consuming goods.

I am grateful to be older and not have children. If I was younger or raising a family, I would hope my actions would be different. Alas, I am older, have no children, and my life is simple. I know, “they” know all about me. I’m guessing they probably find me boring and yet, I’m still addicted enough to feed the bastards.

(Side point… The only business that calls customers “users” are drug dealers and social media giants.)

Of all the platforms social media offers, I use email and Facebook the most. I use What’s App with four friends who refuse to be on Facebook, and, being connected to them is important to me, so I went there with them. I don’t use twitter, Istagram, tic toc, or other platforms.

I like Facebook. I’m not willing to give it up. I don’t have an all or nothing mindset with social media. I would miss it and my friends around the world if I deleted my account. I’m a Nosey Parker. I like seeing what my friends are up to.

What I can do, is set better boundaries for myself. I can change some of my on-line habits for the better.

I’ve turned off all notifications. I don’t, won’t and never have accepted friend requests from people I don’t know.

The friends I do have are actual friends. There is only one person in my list of friends, I’ve not met in actual life. I also belong to a few FB groups, like quilting groups, local FYI groups, buy and sell pages, and save the bears organizations. As of this week, I’ve un-joined most of these.

The less I click the better. I will no longer watch suggested videos or show my support or displeasure by clicking on anything other than personal updates.

However, show me a picture of your dinner, hike or family and I’ll be all over it. Show me how the asshat is a fucker, and I will no longer agree or disagree publicly. If you know me, you know where I stand and who I support.

I will continue to enjoy and click “like” even “love” when Gaby shows me the photo of her kayaking, or Becky shows the sunrise photo she took. I love it when Joel post a pic of his dog, and Laurie shares her trip to Ireland. I especially want to know that while Jim and heather needed to evacuate because of fire, they are safe, and that while Joanne is in isolation because of Covid, she is okay. I like the silliness my brothers posts, and the low tech Sunday serenade Tommy plays on his guitar, and oh I do love it when Jess and Lainey share their art work. And, I will continue to post photos of MuMu and I hiking, of Ken up to something, and I hope one day, I will start to have contest time again.

This is the community I need and love. I’m not willing to give it up, even with the full knowledge that I am helping make zillionaires into bazillionaires.

I’ve said from the beginning, social media has to be fun and it’s only fun if you play. I’ve purged people who don’t play, and I block friends that instigate trouble..

Alas, if you are reading this, please know I cherish my friendships and want them to continue. If you choose to leave social media, please don’t leave the friendship. Find another way to connect. Call or write.

Because of the inter-web, we are seeing more of the world than ever before. And because of social media, that sadly that includes the good, bad and oh so very ugly news and actions that are meant to divide us. But, don’t forget, as manipulated as we are, we are also seeing families, friends and communities come together.

We may be complicit but are not helpless.

Do something good for yourself and the world today. Maybe watch the Social Dilemma and choose well what you post, and when you click.

6 thoughts on “pipeponderings

  1. Jamie

    Thanks Jan. Your blog helped me clarify for myself what’s important in how I participate in social media. And I really appreciate where you’re coming from. For myself.
    I like to: post a few things from my own social sphere for community building/belonging; curate and post good sources of journalism bc the public purse trained me and pays my wages and I pay it forward by being a public pedagogue; be a conduit for important social actions.

  2. Sue S

    Very interesting entry, Jan. I was very affecred by The Social Dilemma. I already have many of the same habits you have described regarding social media use and I do see the social be benfit of my continued use of Facebook. However, it disturbs me greatly to think that my opinions are being manipulated for the benefit of a few gazillionaires and that as a result I am a complicit in the downfall of democracy. Food for thought.
    I miss you!


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