a lesson learned from pulling back

I’ve been in the process of pulling back from the public social internet over the last couple of years because, to be completely honest, I’ve found it to be almost universally useless. This isn’t simply something along the lines of what Cal Newport talks about, it’s actually as a result of spending time with people who have no use for it.

During our time in Liverpool, we were living and working in one of the most economically deprived parts of the U.K. and that extends to levels of computer literacy. It’s not uncommon to meet people there who don’t have a computer in their home. The only reason why they would have needed one was to check applications with the Job Centre. A good friend of mine doesn’t even have a mobile phone. He has a landline and an answering machine. If he’s not home, you can’t get ahold of him.

We see so much importance placed on things that are said on the social internet that we confuse it with a public forum. So when people complain about their posts being banned on Facebook or getting kicked off Twitter, they cry about their right to free speech being infringed upon. You see this mostly from a particular side of the political divide. What I think they have forgotten, though, is that Twitter isn’t yours. Facebook isn’t yours. When you sign up for your accounts, you grant them the right to remove your content or your profile for whatever reason they see fit.

And it is perfectly within the rights of the organisation to do that because it’s theirs, not yours. You don’t get to say whatever you want when you visit someone’s house. Facebook and Twitter are other people’s houses. Free speech doesn’t really apply when it isn’t the public domain.

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