Ever since the Christchurch terror attacks just three weeks ago, I’ve been struggling, trying to process what has happened to the Internet that I’ve grown up with, the country that I love, and the hateful state of the world. The Internet is sick, and we’re not going to fix it with just tech or just law.
My healing process focuses on concrete action and change… both inwardly, and outwardly.
So, mostly for my own reference, but also perhaps to help someone else, I’ve been reflecting, and have come up with some guidelines on how I will interact with the world and with the Internet for the next decade. I’ve been doing these things for the last three weeks and they honestly have made my life, and interaction with the world, a slightly better place.
*NOTE*: This is a work in progress.
No more comments
I still prefer my news to come from actual journalism, but comments sections encourage extremism and clickbait journalism. Therefore, I will not visit stuff.co.nz or nzherald.co.nz until they have removed their comments sections. I will use radionz.co.nz and newsroom.co.nz instead.
If I want to read and share opinions, I can do it in person over a coffee, a message, or an email - with people whose opinions I care about.
Stop international actors deciding my ethics and behaviour
The siloing of personal data into a handful of apps owned by international companies (who play by US rules, not NZ rules; that have US ethics, not NZ ethics) is dangerous and harmful. I will put less personal data into apps, and focus more on building my own website jevon.org as my own safe place, for me to hang out.
I haven’t touched jevon.org for about six years. Eventually I’m planning for this Jekyll instance to be my website, but it needs some actual design, colours, and a big ol’ clean up.
Use social media to be social; not to get opinions
I want to use social media to stay in contact with friends that I care about, and to see their photos; not to get blasted with opinions from randoms or hateful speech.
I will remove friends (on Twitter & FB) who share awful opinions, and I will only use social media occasionally, so I only see the most relevant content when I do login. I will actively cultivate my friendships in the real world.
I’ve been gradually doing this anyway. My Facebook notifications feed is where things go to die.
No more idle social media
Instinctively and idly visiting social media for the dopamine hit of new content/information is too easy to game for bad purposes. It encourages lazy content, bad algorithms and extremism. I will remove both Facebook and Twitter shortcuts from my phone, keeping it installed only for work-related and emergency reasons.
I will turn off/ignore all Facebook & Twitter notifications. I will visit social media when I want to visit social media.
Messenger is still fine though. That platform only offers conversations with people I care about; there’s no algorithms.
Actively report objectionable content
When I see any kind of objectionable (racist) content on the web - anywhere, on any site - I will not just scroll over it or ignore it. I will report it:
- To the site, who may or may not do anything about it; and/or
- To DIA, who have the authority to ban it from publication. https://www.dia.govt.nz/web/submitforms.nsf/cencomp
- This covers anything written, any images, and any video.
- This is my responsibility as an Internet citizen.
Twitter can enable change, but mostly it’s a dumpster fire
Twitter has too much objectionable content to reasonably report everything, but it can also be a platform for change, so I don’t want to abandon it yet. Twitter insists on using ~*~algorithms~*~ to tell me what to see (i.e. the most divisive and extreme content).
I will use Tweetdeck (which doesn’t use algorithms, renders most-recent first, and can be more flexible) instead of Twitter web or mobile. If Twitter breaks Tweetdeck, I will stop using Twitter.
Stop being complicit in family/friend racism
When a friend or family member says or implies something objectionable (racist, sexist, transphobic, etc), I will not do the easy thing. I will not ignore it.
If it’s casual, I will ask “what do you mean?” or “why?” and ask them to explain why they are thinking the way they are thinking.
If it’s intentional, I will summon all my ferocity and tell them that that is not OK, that they need to immediately decide whether they want to still have me in their life.
Luckily this is extremely rare in my network of friends and family. I have the *best* bubble.
Stop being complicit in physical racism
When I see objectionable (racist) graffiti, I will immediately call Wellington CC on (04) 499 4444. I will carry around permanent markers and destroy any such graffiti as much as I can, even if I look silly while doing it, because it is the right thing to do.
When I see somebody wearing objectionable (racist) apparel, I will call Wellington Police on (04) 381 2000 to report them - from a safe distance, if necessary. I will take a photo or video if it’s safe. If they are getting on a bus/train and I haven’t reported them yet, I will not get on the bus/train, but make a note of which bus they boarded. I will not let NZ be safe to racists.
If I ever see any sort of objectionable (racist) abuse, whether targeted or not, I will first make sure that I am safe, then (if possible) make sure anyone targeted is safe, and then call Wellington Police on 111 or (04) 381 2000 to immediately report the person. I will take a photo or video if it’s safe.
Support marginalised communities with cold, hard cash
I will continue to set aside X% of my income as donations towards good causes, particularly to support groups that are marginalised.
Control my spending influence to support the good
As a business owner & community leader, I am able to influence spending decisions. I will not support platforms that support or enable divisiveness, intolerance or enforce US values on global citizens. I will not purchase services or ads on:
- Cloudflare: Supporting 8chan and other obnoxious sites
- Facebook: Enabling live streaming without filtering or moderation
- Twitter: Permitting extremists to collaborate, not taking action against known white supremacists & TERFs
Be kind to myself
I will remember that complacency enables evil, but you also have to look after yourself first. You cannot do activism 24 hours a day.
I will continue to be out and proud. I do not have fear. But I will not tolerate intolerance.