The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “social media

Two Tales of a City

Posted on January 9, 2019

Actually, Charlottesville, Virginia is more like a large town.  But over two days in August 2017, that community became the focal point for tens of millions of viewers.  What happened over that 48-hour period showed social platforms at their best and at their very worst.  It remains an informative case study. For a number of months prior to that August period, racist supremacist groups had used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to quietly organize and recruit supporters for an important event that became the Charlottesville riots.  Jason Kessler, a white supremacist leader, had been using a Facebook page as a rallying call for months.  To be sure, the leaders of the movement attempted to put the best face forward on social media, while they worked away behind the scenes at…

Rewiring People

Posted on January 7, 2019

Eight years ago next month, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg sat down and wrote a letter to his shareholders. In language that seemed so natural, so human, he laid out what Facebook had done for the world. “We believe we have created a greater number of stronger relationships between people, and that it helps people to get exposed to a great number of diverse perspectives.  By helping people form those connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information.” It all seemed to suit the times – an era when social media and emerging applications would bring communities and the world together.  Zuckerberg had made the commitment that Facebook would never grow into a company obsessed with revenue and profits.   None of this turned out to…

High Speed Hate

Posted on November 1, 2018

It’s no accident that the New York Timespublished a piece by Frank Bruni this week titled, “The Internet Will Be the Death of Us” directly following the murders of the 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue. In its concluding paragraph, the column noted: “I don’t know exactly how we square free speech and free expression with a better policing of the Internet, but I’m certain that we need to approach that challenge with more urgency than we have mustered so far. Democracy is at stake.  So are lives.” We can no longer ignore the direct line that runs from Internet hatred to the loss of life.  But neither can we claim ignorance anymore that the haters, trolls and agitators with mendacity on their minds and…

Elections: Social Media Gets It Right When We Use It Right

Posted on October 16, 2018

Technology and elections have gone hand in hand for a long time and it hasn’t always been a comfortable fit.  When radio and television came along, so did the opportunity to put image in front of substance.  Voting machines, while quicker, became known for glitches, recounts, and recounts and hanging chads. But nothing – nothing – has confounded politics and elections the way that social media has in the last decade.  Rather than putting more meaning and information into the process, platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter have front-end loaded misinformation, hackers, trolls, “fake news” and even the commercialization of privacy. Perhaps the worst of it all is that none of us feel we can do anything about it.  Facebook and Twitter especially…

“The Third Place (Chapter 14) – Humanity”

Posted on August 16, 2018

Dad had to take care of some financial tasks at the bank down the street, but when he returned we journeyed back upstairs to the balcony, which because it was afternoon was no longer bathed in light.  A comfortable coolness fell over us.  Instead of lemonade, the preferred beverage was now coffee. “Alright,” Alessandra began, “I want to talk about politics and democracy, if you’re up to it that is.  I think I get why the Third Place is so important to you, but I’d like to know what you think of our modern era and why we’re having so much trouble keeping ourselves together.  I travel that U.S. more than any other place and I see it everywhere.  Do you think that’s what’s…

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