Social Media and Whataboutism

7:00 am EEST (GMT+3). This is the June 18 2020 daily proof of life post. Today I want to talk about social media and whataboutism. Oh, and more examples of people missing the point, making it about themselves, and getting defensive.

Over on the business site I posted a statement about social media, e.g. why the company has no official presence on Facebook or Twitter. It was based on the same statement I made here about quitting my personal Twitter account. The comments I received have been typical. I don’t know what it is about social media and whataboutism. It’s like the cream in the Oreo for some people.

(As a point of clarification, I get more comments on my posts both here and there than you ever get to see. I lean heavily on the power to moderate. This isn’t a democracy. I owe no one a platform for their views. My house, my rules. Get your own blog; they’re free. That said, thoughtful, articulate, and civil comments are always welcome.)

But What About…

To whit, I have been told that other platforms and means of communication have also been used to spread hate, fear, and disinformation. I’m denouncing two obvious targets, but what about YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok? What about email, text messages, and phone calls? What about blogs, man! I use blogs, but blogs can spread propaganda too. Obviously I’m a hypocrite that hates freedom of speech.

This kind of bullshit is why I’m a hermit.

Anyway, pointing out that other wrongs exists is a convenient way of skipping past not just the issues we’re discussing (in this case, Facebook and Twitter), but the issues they’re bringing up (which encompasses pretty much the whole internet and all written communication ever). As if taking a stand against one thing obligates me to take a stand against other things. As if not trying to fight all possibly moral and ethical battles invalidates my stance on this specific battle. Get out of here.

Take It Personally

Going hand-in-hand with these types of comments are the people that internalize any criticism of things they like. The treat it as a criticism of them, as if that thing is the whole of their identity. My decision to walk away from those platforms is clearly a personal attack on everyone that chooses to stay, insert eyeroll emoji here. I’m going after them for finding Twitter and Facebook entertaining or useful.

I used to respond to these types of responses diplomatically. E.g,. “My choices are not your choices, so you do you“. I’m done with that. If I have laid out a moral and ethical argument for my decisions (tl;dr Facebook and Twitter enable fascism) and that stings, well, maybe it should. Perhaps my choice causing you some discomfort means that it’s not me that’s causing you distress. Your defensiveness and immediate leap to whataboutism could really be an opportunity for you to reexamine your values, priorities, and choices.

Social Media and Whataboutism

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