Our divided social media spaces

Examining the various realities we live in, Trump's legacy, the news ban in Australia, and a project I'm backing

Hi friend,

Recently, NBC Asian America had put out a very questionable article on the classification of attacks against Asian Americans.

The clickbait-titled article failed to clarify what exactly constitutes a hate crime and oddly romanticized avoiding reporting to reduce inter-POC conflict.

While I had much to say about the article on my Instagram, what surprised me most were the comments. Both the author and NBC Asian America posted the same image with almost identical captions, but the comments were polar opposites.

Two completely different echo chambers rewarding two different perspectives.

Rarely do we have an opportunity to look outside of our own bubble. Our social media companies have been crafting our own personal worlds for us, with an individually customized feed curated based on our beliefs and desires.

Imagine if the front page of every newspaper had a different headline for every single person that read it. And imagine if the copy for each article was finely tuned to each person’s diction and world views.

What becomes truth? And what becomes fiction?

In 2016, The Wall Street Journal had put together an interactive article comparing Democrative and Republican Facebook feeds alongside each other on various topics. While the results are shocking, it has become far worse in the past five years. Our feeds are now largely made up of accounts we don’t even follow, including recommended accounts, suggested posts, and sponsored product placements.

  1. We need to put an end to relentless personalization if our goal is to create a unified community. For humans to connect with one another, a shared reality must exist.

  2. There should be a space in which disparate voices can and will come together to discuss polarizing topics in a mature and compassionate manner.

A post shared by Steven Wakabayashi (he/him) (@stevenwakabayashi)

It is a bit concerning that every single one of our social channels is governed by a private corporation. Unlike the roads we use and water we drink, there does not seem to be an equivalent of our social media platforms focusing on public utility.

With the technology that we have today and the cultural necessities of being connected, I believe that it is everyone’s right to have an online space that is free of advertisements and external pressures to buy and perform in the desired manner. Similar to public parks, a free and open online space that is funded through tax dollars with improving public welfare as its core goal… this would radically transform the internet as we know today and shake up our tech industry.

In 2020, the USA military budget was $721.5B - far more than the combined total of Google ($181.2B), Facebook ($86B), LinkedIn ($8.1), Twitter ($3.72), and Snapchat ($2.5B).

Although some may wince at a government creating its own social media platform (North Korea, China, Russia…), is the better alternative to allow private, unchecked citizens the power to create platforms that are far ahead of legislative control? Perhaps we can create a system of checks and balances that allow citizens to vote on the features and leadership of the public platform.

I sincerely hope we do something soon before our platforms become more divided and divisive than they are today. Our future depends on it.

What I’m up to

For Clubhousers: Sunday, March 7 w/ Dalia Kinsey @ 1p ET- Living Queer & Melanated. Topic TBD (add me @wakuu and I’ll ping you in)

For queer POC: Tuesday, March 9 - Digital accessibility masterclass

For queer Asians: Sunday, March 21 - Yellow Glitter Sparkes, Gaysian support group

For Asians: Sunday, March 28 - Asian American Healing Space

Trump’s lasting legacy

Would you like your Diet Coke with or without ice?' the server was instructed to recite. A polished tray with chilled bottles and highball glasses was already prepared for either response. Directions for pouring the soda were detailed in a process no fewer than seven steps long—and illustrated with four photo exhibits. The beverage had to be opened in front of the germophobe commander in chief, 'never beforehand.' The server was to hold a longneck-bottle opener by the lower third of the handle in one hand and the Diet Coke, also by the lower third, in the other."

A look inside the Trump Hotel. by Washingtonian.

Paid news

The law is a response to years-long complaints from news outlets around the world about the role that Google and Facebook — and their mammoth digital ad businesses — have played in the decline of journalism and the decimation of its business model in the internet age. The two companies have responded in different ways: Google is making deals with Australian news publishers; Facebook is cutting them off entirely.

Why Facebook banned (and then unbanned) news in Australia by Vox.

A project I'm backing

Was referred to this Kickstarter project by a friend, a magazine capturing the intersection of activism and design. A really interesting concept that examines the role of design in protest and policing.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),

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