In Defense of The Small Social Network
Ditch Facebook. Log off Twitter. The path to a better internet is going small.
A few days ago, I went on Facebook for the first time in weeks. What I saw was a site that is a shell of its former self, one that has become ugly and overcrowded. I no longer use the events feature because the invitations come from people I hardly know, and the events are mostly things I do not want to go to. I no longer use its groups feature because the political groups devolve into unproductive shouting matches. The only groups I ever liked — the ones where queers sent each other nudes — got banned into oblivion, despite being private. And anyway, those too often just devolved into shouting matches.
I have no use for Facebook anymore: What was once exciting and novel is now bland, overly-curated, and filled with anger and disinformation.
I itch for an alternative. I want to envision a better internet, one filled with more adventure and less hate, or at least one where I can post the content I want without being banned. But it’s hard to imagine right now. Facebook is boring — but what lies beyond the safety of its corporate womb is downright scary.
Take 8chan, for example, the preferred platform of the El Paso white supremacist terrorist, and many white supremacist terrorists before him — Christchurch, Charleston, the Poway Synagogue. In every attack, 8chan users cheered them on.
As a Jew and a trans person, I can’t bring myself to mourn for the deplatforming of 8chan in the wake of the El Paso shooting. But as the platform faltered, I also felt a pang of sadness about the fact that there was no left-wing version of it, no queer version of it. There are few alternatives for someone like me, who doesn’t want to choose between a world-devouring platform like Facebook, and smaller platforms filled with Nazis.
I’m sick of barking up the Facebook tree, pleading with it, and Google, and Twitter, to not kick off people posting good content, to not ban my friends for sharing their bodies, to not be so filled with vapid consumerism. It seems as if we have no choice. Beyond the sketchy, Nazi-filled sites, what else is there?