The Social Media Con Job..

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The Creeping Tide of Corporate Fascism

Years ago, when a friend suggested I establish a Riley’s Farm Facebook company page, I was fairly new to Facebook itself, and I didn’t expect much. I’ve always been a bit of a social media addict, because I enjoy debate, writing, and reading real people’s take on the news, but I never foresaw the “small business” dimension of social media.  As our “likes” and “follows” grew, I became aware of how easy it was to sell our events on Facebook.  We run a fun business, and people are looking for things to do, and as the years went by, I had the sense that the Facebook feed was on everyone’s mobile and desktop.  And we were right there as well, offering up “Sleepy Hollow” or “Christmas in the Colonies” or Field Trips.

We don’t run an asphalt company either.  We post pictures of corn coming up through the chocolate earth and small children picking their first strawberry.  Our image feed probably looked pretty exotic to moms in the suburbs and urban folks fighting traffic all day.  This is common to most social media.  WE (all of us, you, me, our small shops, your trip to New Orleans) are the show.  We provide the content and Mark Zuckerberg makes the money.

That’s fine, I guess.  A win-win.  We get exposure.  We re-establish old friendships and we find people particularly in tune with our perspective or our product.  It has a way of building very tight affinity groups.  The core Riley’s Farm customers on Facebook — I get the sense — would likely take a bullet for us.  I almost felt sorry for people who talked trash in our comments section.  They were eaten alive by people who love farm country and American history.

But there’s a catch in all this comradery. If you build a major Facebook presence, as a business, your company rolodex isn’t really yours.  The 43,000 people who liked our page could ONLY be reached through Facebook itself.

I can remember feeling a little anxious about this, as that audience grew, but I was boosting posts and paying Facebook tens of thousands of dollars in ad money and filling up our calendar with happy, paying guests.

And then a really weird thing happened for the first time a few years ago.  I was put in Facebook jail for a few days and I couldn’t post any news to our company page.  I can remember being startled by how implacable, and absent, Facebook customer service appeared to be.  The few times I managed to have an online chat with someone (go through the advertising department if you’re an advertiser, and maybe even if you’re not), they had no idea why I was jailed and they seemed to think it was wholly reasonable to endure random, periodic correction of #wrongthink.  I was chatting with “safe space” information age children who grew up on Dreamworks animations.  It’s difficult for those of us who grew up on the Bill of Rights to understand a generation full of such abject cowards.  Words hurt them.  You don’t need sticks and stones anymore.

In fairness, some moderation is necessary. You wouldn’t want to go on Facebook and see a beagle being tortured or a journalist in Syria literally losing his head.  We might even reduce the feed-strength of some very well established, and proven, urban myths — but the great issues of our times?  The problems of radical Islam?  Muscle bound men changing identity and competing in girls’ sports?  Covid policy?  Critical race theory and the race hatred of a monster like Louis Farrakhan?

Seriously?  Ban you from Facebook for discussing the things we should be discussing on social media?  Moreover, BAN YOU FROM DOING BUSINESS because you have discussed a forbidden topic in a forbidden way?

Back up for a moment and ponder this situation:  You have executive authority of some sort.  You are the principal of a school or the senior partner in a law firm or the division chief at the police station.  You find out one of the people working for you takes a political position you find abhorrent.  This has happened to me at least twice.  One of our employees hated law enforcement, viscerally.  Another one of our waitresses was a Marxist.  Put yourself in my shoes.  Would you arbitrarily fire someone for having the wrong opinion?

Not only would I NOT fire someone for disagreeing with me.  The idea never even occurred to me.  I might be more cautious around someone like that.  I might feel sorry for them.   I might tease them, but FIRE them for having a different opinion?  Block their email and social media privileges?  Are you KIDDING me?

Evidently, I just fell off the turnip truck.  I am a HOPELESS idealist.

Conclusions

Number One: I no longer feel like building my audience on Facebook.  It can be taken away INSTANTLY.  If you want to be entertained, and taught, and amused by Jim Riley and family, do it here, or here.  My content is too good for Facebook.

Number Two:  Someone observed the other day that the particularly evil chapters in world history don’t always have Hollywood art direction.  Think about it:  in 1930s Germany the sun still came up, flowers bloomed, a few people even danced, but a creeping, totalitarian fascism was gaining strength underneath the appearance of every day normality.  Ponder all of the American corporations who went RIGHT ALONG with the lock-downs, the masks, the social distancing.  Do you think Zuckerberg actually wants to de-platform me?  Of course not.  Our family, and our business is too interesting.  He’s banning me because that’s the price of modern corporate fascism: use your industry to shut down the ideas unapproved by the elites. He’s a happy fascist industrialist.  He’s doing what he’s told to do.

 

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This post was written by Jim Riley

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