This comment of mine was hidden away on a multi-thread post comment on our Facebook group
from two days ago but after reflecting on it yesterday, I felt it was important to re-post in its own right (and maybe discuss) here, if there is interest. This comes partuclarly after mulling over some of the questions raised by Paul Kingsnorth in the interview I shared on my own Facebook wall yesterday, in particular the deeper questions around (as he puts it) “What is the purpose of being here? What are we here for as humans? What sort of a culture do we want to live in? At the moment we’ve come to a society, and again something else that Covid has revealed, that doesn’t really have any meaning at all except on a material level.”
My response was to a post by one of our own group members, that concludes by describing / labelling our community as a ‘silo’, an ‘echo chamber perfecting itself’, which seems to represent (for this member) “the dark side of social media”.
I did respond to the comment and had thought that maybe there would be a reply on the original thread, but given that one has not been forthcoming, I felt that it might prompt a potential discussion of what we see as the ethos and aims of the group and whether that does actually resemble the ‘dark side of social media’ for anyone else here, and what that actually might mean?
For me, I see what some of us are attempting to do here as the very different to what you describe in your conclusion. So I guess my own ‘alternative view’ would be to suggest that whilst it’s easy enough to throw around the usual, somewhat accusatory labels like the old ‘echo chamber’ and the ‘dark side of social media’, to some, it’s clear to observe that the opposite of ‘siloing’ is occurring here.
I’ve actually lost count of the many messages and emails I have received from Campfire members who have said that are being hugely helped and uplifted by the fact that we have had the courage to put our heads above the parapet and ask questions. It’s actually been very moving for me and I’m seeing, in real time, the unravelling of many things for many people, happening at different speeds, as each one of us realises what is going on and begins the process of sensemaking.
We are then able, through debate, through observation, through mutual exchange of ideas, hopes, fears, to get a sense that we are not alone. Collectively, we have been afraid to express doubts, fears, hopes, freaks. I had three such conversations in the past 24 hours, all very moving. It’s an emotional, uncertain time for a huge number of us.
It feels like an opening up for many. We are all on different stages of what feels like a similar journey but all hoping finding common ground in that we wish for a better world. It’s more important than ever to be shining a light on what we are seeing increasingly rapidly as a broken system, mired by (to name just a few) untruths, corruption, nefarious agendas, propaganda, surveillance and extremism in many forms.
My own ‘radicalisation’ was simple and recent. It came through my direct experience of being locked down in a newly created ‘underclass’. (I quote Jacinta Ardern’s reference to a new class being created).
What I have seen playing out rapidly since then is various shades of what might be described as coersion or even extortion here in Greece and now the fines, which are a step too far even for most of the vaccinated.
Saturday’s protests will shine a light on what is going on. More than ever before in my life time, I see this new division cutting swathes through humanity, it hurts in a very visceral way and I feel very inspired to do something about it. I actually find it repulsive. We still have time to stop this if we act.
For me, echo chambers are when everyone agrees and no one questions. I’d happily challenge your implication that Campfire is anything like this. I see a different picture – a huge number of nuanced views and an awakening to what is playing out. Most here are playing respectfully and with dignity, a few, maybe through fear resorting to levelling and the closing down of their own truth.
I’m not sure in your closing comment if it is this group that your are describing as ‘the dark side of social media’? If so, I have to ask why you’re hanging out in the ‘dark side’ when you seem so critical of it? Or maybe your intentions here are wholly positive?
When I’m seeing this group’s purpose as shining a light, for hope of a better future and a different world, and you’re describing it as ‘the dark side of social media’ I wonder where the meeting point, the collective point of truth, is able to find itself.
Underpinning all this, for me, is our oft-quoted phrase over the past year and one that I often use to keep myself in check…
I also share here the original comment for balance:
“An alternative view might be that many of us have listened carefully for a long, long time before we spoke up to challenge what we observe to be a manifestation of the radicalization process taking place in real time in this group. The saddest part of all is that as each person leaves who has tried to speak up and describe what they see – not always elegantly, not always diplomatically, it’s true, but courageously nonetheless – the process of siloing accelerates and you can see the echo chamber perfecting itself. Welcome to the dark side of social media.”