Remember Godfather Part 3, when Eli Wallach (Don Altobello) hires a father-son team of assassins to kill Michael? He starts off his pitch by saying he had a “stone in his shoe” that he needed help getting rid of. I always loved that line, and I thought it would be a great segue for an essay I’ve been wanting to write for quite a while now on the matter of our modern-day state of affairs in the arena of social media and public communications. I could have just put it on my personal blog site, but because the world of Substack has been slowly opening my eyes to the bullshit games of the old-school social media outlets, I decided it was time to get this stone out of my shoe. I make no apology for what follows.

Chronologically, by today’s standard, I’m officially old; at 65, I’m so far out to pasture that I can’t even see the fence line anymore. However, the benefit of being a walking fossil is that- like the insurance commercial – I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two. I predate cell phones, desktop computers, the internet, and the dreaded keyboard and mouse. And I sure as hell had a functioning, independent and self-sustaining brain that knew how to go to the library and take notes long before Google, Facebook, Twitter, and for the love of God, Wikipedia, which I consider the single greatest force behind the dumbing down of the American population, if not the entirety of Western Civilization.

Feel free to mock… I’m all too familiar (as a late-stage Boomer) with how confident the younger Generations are that I don’t have the first fucking clue what I’m talking about; I can take it, Boomers have broad shoulders. But while you snicker outside of my earshot, you should take a moment to think about how the younger Generations have been sucked into the addictive nature of social media and all the insidious ways your brains are being influenced and directed according to the whims of the high-tech puppet masters busily sucking your brain dry of free and independent thought. I’ll wait.

Before any of you get your undies in too much of a bundle, let me extend an olive branch by quickly admitting I jumped on the social media bandwagon all the way back in the early days of Blogger, Google Groups, and everything that came after. I own this just as much, if not more so, than any of the generations that have come after mine, each of us wanting to keep up with the Joneses and be members of the cool crowd. For these vanities and self-indulgences I deeply and sincerely apologize… If there was even a whisper of a chance to put all those horses back in the barn, trust me… I’d be at the head of the line out there, chasing them down and throwing halters and lunge lines around every neck I could get close to.

Of the 1500 words I could spend next lamenting the minutiae of the mess we’ve made (or how this stone got in our collective shoe), I prefer to make a more general point about the nature of human contact, communication and interaction and the extent to which the things that make us uniquely human have been co-opted, profiteered, and manipulated to set us farther apart from each other rather than bringing us closer together. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook constrain us by limiting not only how many words we can use but also manipulating who can see it, be offended by it, and whether or not it conforms to the prescribed narrative and allowable opinion of both the creator and consumer of that content. It’s silly on its face that these platforms presume to know best what we should see or hear or read, especially when their motivation is not to keep us safe but to ensure their profitability and long-term relationship with advertisers and government agencies or mainstream media Outlets.

In the months since I have turned away, ever so slowly, from Twitter and Facebook and the allowably-consumed news sources out there, I have begun to discover such incredible talent, wisdom, depth and insight, and honesty on display through Substack that I can’t believe I didn’t know about it sooner. I first heard about it in an interview between Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald. I certainly don’t share Greenwald’s politics, but that’s the beauty of this place; it’s not an echo chamber. It’s a public forum for the sharing of ideas, offered up for the larger audience to determine for themselves what to think and how to feel and whether or not the world is a better place wherever the voices of each of us can be heard and acted upon accordingly. I’m sorry Glenn moved on, but in his wake, he helped stand up what just might be our ultimate salvation from the insidious addictive nature of what is hopefully a dying breed of mass communications. For me, at least, that stone is finally out of my shoe.


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