Me, TV and Facebook.
Television and I are contemporaries. I was born in 1949. Television began in the late 40’s and grew up in the 50’s. And so did I. TV and I became inseparable. As did millions of those of us who would be known eventually as “baby boomers.” Although we could just as well be known as TV babies.
My parents’ and grandparents’ generations were newspaper readers and radio listeners. I recall as I became fanatically dependent on Hopalong Cassidy and The Mickey Mouse Club that my father was somewhat reluctant to accept the new medium. My grandfather much more so.
We used the hear comments quite critical of television. Some people went as far as to claim that it was a “communist propaganda” tool. And more than one preacher linked to the devil.
Eventually, well, television came to be the most dominant medium in history. We all became addicted and dependent. Young and old. Entertainment and news and advertising would never be the same.
And it was evident that television was indeed a tool. It was used for good and bad. Mostly good, we wanted to think at the time.
As we both grew, TV and I, it also became evident that the tool could be misused and abused. Today that reality is undeniable. Back then we had three channels and the quality was mostly acceptable. Lots of great stuff was offered. Innovative people took advantage of TV and gave us fantastic programming. TV news developed into a credible and important and even necessary option for information.
In time TV and I grew older. But we didn’t necessarily mature. My generation grew in great numbers but that great quantity did not translate always into great quality. Yes! We were intelligent, creative, daring, independent. And also arrogant and irresponsible. Not civic-minded as our parents and grandparents and at times immoral and dangerous.
Just like TV.
Now we have unlimited channels and options for entertainment and information. Hundreds and hundreds of channels and networks. And so much garbage. Again, just like me and my generation, great quantity but not great quality.
And this brings me to today. I have become a senior citizen. I am a retired old man. Just like the vast majority of my generation, I have plenty of time and adequate resources to enjoy my life. And my generation of boomers is living longer and healthier than our parents and grandparents. And now we have the Internet.
Yes! The new medium, the new tool, the new toy. Limitless access to all that can be imagined. Nothing out of our reach. We can finally let our creativity go where no man ever dared go.
And that’s the problem. If anyone ever thought TV was evil, a commie propaganda tool or an instrument of the devil, well, the Internet is all that and worse.
Yes. I will admit that computers have become indispensable. Technology saves lives. But does it really improve quality of life?
Among the many innovations that were invented and applied and implemented because of computers and the development of the so called World-Wide-Web (www or simply web for short) are the social platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like and so many more to come. Innovation, research and development, the imagination and creativity of man never stops. And that’s great.
However, the problem is the use of those innovations and creations. Facebook is not the problem. The problem is who uses it and how it is used. And what Facebook, as an enterprise, allows to be published.
Yes. I am aware that we are now entering First Amendment territory. But our founders never intended for the right of free speech to be used to lie, assault, attack and cause horrible damage. Facebook, and other social platforms, are doing just that. And, sadly, there are no controls to combat this aggression.
I entered the world of Facebook back in 2007. In my work as an entertainer and radio broadcaster it seemed a natural relationship. And it was quite advantageous for the most part. I used Facebook to promote my radio programs and concerts and my bus tours to Branson. And I profited from it. Facebook became my most important promotional tool.
Through Facebook I was also able to find family and friends and reconnect with them in ways that I never thought possible. That was great, also. And, as I understand, that is what Facebook was developed for.
Recently I decided to leave Facebook. I will no longer post and blog and engage in cyber conversation and dialogue. I have decided to abandon Facebook even though it has served me well. And even though it had become an important aspect of my life.
You see, these social platforms have become evil. Finally, I understand those who expressed concern and fear about television in the early days of the medium. Finally, I have become my dad and grandpa. Finally, I see how a medium can be misused and abused. And how it simply cannot be controlled.
Facebook, as an enterprise, does not monitor or supervise what it is published. They claim to do so. But the truth is they don’t. Maybe it’s true that they can’t because it’s just impossible to monitor more than a billion users. Maybe.
The problem is that Facebook applies the rules somewhat arbitrarily. Facebook allows any and all users to “report” anything published. Facebook encourages this indicating their so called rules and “community standards.” Facebook does not allow any defense of explanation once you have been reported and punished.
A “computer” decides. A computer looks for “key words” and determines that you have violated those rules of theirs and their community standards. However, you can simply open another Facebook page and post to your heart’s delight.
And these “posts” can be lies. There are people with Facebook pages that have written lies about me. Lies that go way past that line that no one should cross. I report these lies to Facebook and nothing is ever done about it. And in the event that some mild reprimand is applied, these people can simply open another Facebook page and continue with their aggression, bullying and libel. And since the internet is beyond government control, all this goes unregulated and uncontrolled.
Is there a solution? Yes! But most don’t want to hear it. And nobody in government will ever consider it. My solution is to leave Facebook. In a way, to give up. Surrender. Yet, I feel so free, so liberated. I feel so much in control. It had reached the point where I was somewhat controlled by Facebook. I would connect when I woke up and sit in front of the damn computer for hours. And when I was not in front of the computer I would have Facebook on my phone. I became angry at the lies. I would challenge those people to meet face-to-face and resolve whatever issues they might have. As cowards hiding behind “fake profiles” they never replied. They just continued with the lies and the aggression.
So, I win! Fuck them all! I am so better than them. I just had not realized. Who the hell needs Facebook, anyway? I have a TV. I have Netflix. I have, I think, about 1,000 channels of mostly shit. I have books to read, songs to sing. I have roads to travel.
Maybe I finally matured. I only wish the rest of my boomer brothers and sisters did the same.