Facebook is a platform for users across the globe to exercise their right to free speech. This basic feature may be the very reason that it will not suffice as a tool for positive social change. If Mark Zuckerberg’s intention was to create a space for a unified community that would change the world for the better, he failed to guide the global network in the right direction from the start. I don’t blame him for what Facebook has become; creating the world’s first truly global network is a commendable feat. However, it may be too late to refocus the motives of its 2 billion users worldwide.
While the inherent right to free speech is inarguable, it does not mean that everyone speaking is morally just, or deserving of a global platform. If Facebook is hoping to pivot its focus toward positive social change, continuing to allow a fully open forum that is welcome to negative, outdated, and small-minded thinking will not promote that progress. Some ideologies are simply unsustainable for a civilized society and allowing those ideologies to breed openly via the social network will, without a doubt, stifle forward movement.
I understand that the notion of an idea being right or wrong is highly subjective, but we don’t leave room for ambiguous distinctions when it comes to actions. While many ideas are up for debate, society has made it clear that there are actions, such as murder or victimization of children, that are not socially acceptable, are dangerous to the fabric of civilized society, and will absolutely not be tolerated; why should dangerous mindsets and ideologies be treated any differently?
In a time where resources are becoming increasingly limited, we, as a diverse but like-minded people, need to be moving in the direction of intolerance for such destructive, oppressive, and inequitable mindsets. These mindsets are as dangerous as, if not more so, to the long term success and ultimate livelihood of our human race as violent crimes.
We, as human beings, forget (or chose not to believe) that we are drafted into our lots in life by no making or choosing of our own. As a black man born in America, there were certain things dictated to me by the status quo and while, throughout my lifetime, I have felt that dogma slowly relent, it has never disappeared.
Even with my imposed “disposition,” I always considered myself lucky. My parents made the conscious sacrifice before I was born to pursue military careers. This was common among a lot of young African Americans in the 70’s & 80’s, used as a tool for social mobility to the middle class. Growing up, my parents had stable jobs and while we never had a lot of money, we were never without necessities. We were safe from drugs and violence and had access to after school and support programs. This part of my life was a stark contrast to the summers I spent on 79th St., on the southside of Chicago, with my grandmother. Even as a child, I recognized that my situation could have been drastically different had my parents made even the fewest of divergent decisions prior to my being born.
I never understood how those born into fortunate circumstances believed it was their right, not chance, that put them there. They fail to realize that our positions in life do not represent one’s value as a human being. When I see all of the hate and division coming from people (especially on social networks) simply based on one’s religious beliefs, education or economic position it is impossible for me to reconcile their lack of empathy.
If a person cannot respect the humanity of others or have empathy for those with fewer opportunities or advantages, their speech should be discounted and called out as counterproductive to the good of humanity. Why shouldn’t this way of thinking be considered dangerous or threatening to those whom they are disenfranchising?
This is not a political argument. There should always be opportunity for discussion and debate about beliefs and methods. In fact, I have opposing beliefs as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. I believe in compassion and service to others but disagree with some of my more liberal counterparts on the mechanisms to get to that goal. However, I also believe that all people have the right to live with dignity and be given the opportunities necessary to have a minimum quality of life.
To return to my core argument, Facebook is simply not the mechanism through which we will achieve the goal of building a global community where all people are looked after. A considerable amount of people do not share those same values and the bickering and fighting that comes with trying to convince them only muddies the waters and keeps us from getting anything done. My position on this goes way beyond just Facebook; democratic government is a great mechanism for debate but is not an efficient model for effecting desperately needed and immediate policy change in our communities.
This is not an assault on Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook. Hindsight is 20/20 and while the Facebook team accomplished something previously thought impossible by connecting over one billion people from across the world, perhaps they would have steered its evolution differently had they known what its impact would, or could, become. My argument is that much like Elon Musk or Peter Thiel, maybe Zuckerberg’s greatest act will be in his next enterprise. Whether it’s something he will create or support, Facebook exists as a launch point to even greater heights and a more unified, community focused world.
With social technologies, it is now possible for us to mobilize, organize and reshape our world without the traditional power structures that were necessary in centuries past. We don’t need government to organize, regulate and dictate our futures; we can do it on our own. It no longer makes sense to beat our heads against the wall, fight with those who will never agree, attempting to control an antiquated, inefficient and ineffective system that will only continue to allow our society to decline.
Technology platforms and social enterprises like Urban Array can lead the way in the next generation of Web3 Applications. Thanks to organizations like Facebook and Google, we are more connected than ever before and the framework for transformational change has been built.