I appreciate warnings. When I’m a guest at a meal and my hostess tells us that one of the dips is super spicy, I appreciate knowing that before setting my mouth on fire. When a friend suggests that I skip reading a popular book because it is filled with profanity, I appreciate taking it off my reading list. When my phone alerts me about an accident up ahead and re-routes me, I appreciate saving the time I would have sat motionless on the freeway.
But what happens if I find out that the dip wasn’t actually spicy at all. There simply wasn’t enough to go around and my hostess wanted to save it for her other guests. Or my friend knew that I would love the book which was actually unobjectionable, but wanted to write about it on her blog before I wrote about it on mine. What if the developers of my traffic app only wanted to route me so that I would pass a certain coffee shop that was giving them a kickback on each beverage sold?
I no longer appreciate the warnings. Instead I feel manipulated.
This is exactly what is happening on Facebook and other social media sites today. I was aware that years ago already, Google and YouTube restricted videos from Prager University warning that they were “inappropriate” for young audiences. If you have seen these videos you will understand that the translation of “inappropriate” is worry that young people might be exposed to conservative ideas and the fear that they may be intrigued to learn more about them.
Recently, however, I’m seeing more of this type of slanting of information masquerading as concern for viewers. Not by silencing entities like Prager University, which at least has other avenues in which to disseminate its ideas, but by playing liberal extremist nanny to the interactions between individuals. This week, Facebook masked a photo that was posted by a contact of mine. Facebook feigned concern that the post might offend me, so that they wrote, “We covered this photo so you can decide if you want to see it.” There was an additional warning: “This photo may show violent or graphic comment.” Now, there are a lot of inappropriate picture that I wish I did not have to see. Many of them are on the covers of newspapers or magazines that are hard to avoid as you walk through an airport or check out from a supermarket. However, although, I don’t personally know this contact, I do know that she has never posted anything I would consider inappropriate. I proceeded to click on the “uncover this photo” tab.
If you have your smelling salts at hand along with a teddy bear to cuddle if your blood pressure begins to climb, here is the message I uncovered.
You came here from there because you didn’t like there, and now you want to change here to be like there. We are not racist, phobic or anti whatever-you-are, we simply like here the way it is and most of us actually came here because it is not like there, wherever there was. You are welcome here, but please stop trying to make here like there. If you want here to be like there you should not have left there to come here, and you are invited to leave here and go back there at your earliest convenience.
I do hope you have survived this graphic encounter with words that are so out-of-bounds that social media know-it-alls will shield you from them. My first thought was that this should be sent to all those white, wealthy, liberal individuals leaving states like California and moving to states like Texas.
May I humbly suggest that you be careful whose invitations you accept, whose book reviews you respect and whose driving directions you follow. Most importantly, treat concern for your well-being from any politician, academic or media outlet as a clarion call to research more and make up your own mind.