When I sat down after last night’s ride, to bullet-point the thoughts which most consumed me, I didn’t get too far. You see, some of what I think about I’m afraid to share. After all, I’m someone whose self-worth is supremely correlated with how others view me. And the truth be told, I hold back a lot of what I think about for that reason. For example…
Most people reading this have no idea I’ve been privately studying Islam for a decade, and my interest in it goes back another decade beyond that. That’s not a joke. To date, I’ve completed nearly 30 books on the subject and have been to a local Islamic center a handful of times meeting with their education leader.
My interest hasn’t yet guided me to accept Islam as a faith, and I’m not sure it ever will. I do feel though, connected with it far better than the Judaism I was raised with or the Christianity that surrounds me. Whether I accept Islam into my life or not is a story for another day. I can only say that as a blueprint for community living, I’ve not seen a better one, and I’ve looked at most of them — in depth.
Just the thought of sharing that with an audience of dozens frightens me, though it’s been on my mind nearly every ride since I began this page four years ago, and since I began blogging and 2002. The Islamic faith, as a model for community living and how one should conduct one’s self privately, is what I think about as much cycling, fitness, and all the other nonsense that occupies my brain.
That’s as much as I’m going to share for now. Throwing this out there this morning, to people who will fix to strong opinions quickly, feels like jumping out of an airplane. And if you know my story, the last time I jumped out of an airplane, it didn’t go so well, but I did make a full recovery. Still, this morning I’m taking that leap.
We live in an age where we accept a president who says it’s okay to grab a woman by the pussy. We have state legislatures making it more difficult for poor people and people of color to vote. We have elected officials proposing legislation to minimize the rights of gay and transgender people. We have representatives and senators who are willing to make racist and homophobic statements to the cheers of the crowds which finance them. Yet in all of that, I’m afraid to show my true colors. Shame on me. Shame on us all.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
15.0 mph avg
Seat Time: 11 hours 22 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Praise. Enjoy…!
I created my first Facebook account in 2006. A friend, familiar with the organization, assured me it was going to be huge. I didn’t use that account much, but as Facebook grew in popularity and more people I knew were using it, I got increasingly drawn in. This was before the era of the smartphone and my desktop computer was my exclusive porthole into social media. I’d check Facebook for a few minutes each morning, again in the evening, and maybe in the middle of the day if I wasn’t too busy. It was far from being the center of my world.
The evolution of my Facebook use was subtle, but increased over time. The more connections I made, the more time I spent using the platform. And as evolutions go, I barely noticed what was happening. With the advent of the smartphone and the Facebook app in 2008, the social network left my desktop for my hip pocket. On a dime, I went from checking it 2 to 3 times a day, to checking it in the grocery line, at traffic lights, waiting for a waitress to take my order, and anytime I wasn’t otherwise engaged — including airport bathrooms. It became central to my daily experience.
As my use increased, I found value in the platform — I’m a people person and Facebook is made out of people. I’m also an introvert with a tendency toward social awkwardness, so it allowed me to fulfill my need for human connections, but from a safe distance. I enjoyed connecting with people over music, fitness, and art. I also participated in my share of sophomoric hijinks, including homemade videos of my talking dog.
Between 2010 and 2015, as the tenor the nation began to sour, Facebook became more political, more volatile, and increasingly divided. Finger-pointing, abusive language, and vitriol became the the currency of exchange for many. As this manifest, it became a badge of honor for some to be sent to Facebook jail, to have their accounts suspended, or like my brother in 2020, banned from Facebook for life. During this time, many left the platform of their own accord due to the negativity.
As the platform grew more negative, I leaned in with a more positive presence. I shared original stories, original photographs, and kept my interactions as positive as possible, though I still participated in some sophomoric hijinks — because in a nation absent of decorum and struggling to stand up straight, I never lost my sense of humor.
As interactions grew more negative, the call increased from governments, action groups, and parents for Facebook to minimize threats, abusive language, and people who abuse the platform. Facebook responded with the use of artificial intelligence (bots and algorithms) to determine who was violating their “community standards”. Those in violation would have their use limited or suspended, with little recourse on the part of the offender. As this continued, inconsistencies began to surface in how Facebook justice was administered…
Recently a woman photographed a dramatic image — her own shadow against low gray clouds. The image was magnificent and made it around the internet in a matter of days. When a friend shared it on Facebook last week, I made the comment…
“Witchcraft. Burn her…!“
Within 48-hours I was notified by Facebook my comment went against community standards and my account had been suspended for 3-days. This came just two weeks after a similar suspension for using the word “execute“ in a proper sentence. Keep in mind, no human being was a part of that judicial process. Justice was administered by artificial intelligence. The algorithm did give me the opportunity to appeal my sentence, but made clear the appeals process could take several weeks — for a 3-day suspension.
With nearly 3-billion accounts, I understand why Facebook could never staff or pay enough humans to take on a task that bots and algorithms can do far more efficiently. I also understand that they’re working to minimize kinks in the process so innocent people don’t have their accounts suspended for using the word “execute” in a proper sentence. In truth, I really don’t have an issue with my account being suspended for those minimal infractions.
The issue I have with Facebook though, is its repeated use of the term “community standards”. This is a company who’s representative have a lied under oath before the US Congress. It’s a company which has manipulated its algorithms in ways to make the platform more addictive for everyone, including and especially children. It’s gathered information for the benefit of selling it without user knowledge. It eavesdrops as a means of targeting and redirecting its advertisers. It has knowingly created divisions among users because those divisions have been proven, by Facebook‘s own staff, to keep users engaged longer and more frequently.
In short, Facebook is a manipulative, devious, and self-serving enterprise which puts marketshare and profit ahead of all other concerns — including the mental health of children. I don’t need them preaching community standards when a part of their mission is tearing communities apart on behalf of marketshare and profits. Nearly all of what I’ve shared on Facebook, going back a generation now, has been positive in nature. I’m one of the good ones — one of the people who tries each day to make the experience positive, not just for me, but for those I interact with.
What Facebook bots and algorithms don’t take into consideration when they suspend or ban users like me, is that they’re also separating families and friendships. I’m grateful each week I can connect with friends and family around the world. That experience has helped me during difficult times. Facebook is also a business tool for me — I use it to promote my small business, and always in a positive way. My Spoke And Word Page on Facebook has been the best therapy I’ve ever had for dealing with my mental health issues.
In a world where it’s reinforced daily that we shouldn’t take things personally, I take this very personally — I’m hardwired that way. I’ve been one of Facebook‘s biggest fans. Despite their corporate nonsense, the miracle of global interconnection can’t be overstated. The influence on my life, from people I’ve connected with via that medium, has made me a more rounded person and broadened my mind in ways I could’ve never imagined to 2005.
Being suspended for an innocuous comment negatively impacted my livelihood, my personal relationships, and even my mental health. I’ll accept this, my second 3-day suspension, and I’ll likely return to my Facebook routine when it expires — maybe. That said, if I find myself suspended for an innocent comment again, I’ll walk away and never look back, even at the expense of family connections, my business, and my mental health.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
15.1 mph avg
Seat Time: 10 hours 12 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Leo Sayer. Enjoy…!