The Questionable Era of Social Purpose

Leave a comment

Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.

Laurence D. Fink.

P.S. Eric Posner disagrees:

There is no reason to believe that CEOs are capable of determining the best social uses for a corporation’s funds. Do you want the CEO of Exxon or Coca-Cola to use dollars that would otherwise go into lowering the prices of their products to fund the latest climate-denial institute or an art museum in a wealthy community? Or would you rather use those dollars for your own charitable interests?

Twitter & Trump Are Trash

Leave a comment

First thing: This isn’t a post calling for the overthrow of Jack Dorsey. Mike Monteiro wrote that, and he wrote the shit out of it. This also isn’t my confession that all the creative energy and professional time I threw at the web in its early days was misguided and I helped build the mess we’re all in. Rick Webb wrote that, and he wrote it better than I could. 

This post isn’t a screed directed at the macro unfairness of all things now (though I feel it) nor do I want or intend to have any impact with it.

This post is a throwback. I started my first blog way back in 2004 not to accrue an audience, but to shape my own thoughts. This post is more of that. I resolved at the end of 2017 to write again for that reason, and that reason most of all. 

This is a lengthy disclaimer that the only opinion I hope to express, the only perspective I am sharing is my own: only an atom of the body politic.

I left Twitter last week. Like many other people, I’ve had enough.

By the design of social media, likely no one has noticed. The algorithm abhors a vacuum.

I want to work out why I did so. I want to do it in a place where every action doesn’t immediately invite a hoard of 280-character performances based solely on one’s first reflection. You don’t need to agree with me. Hell, you don’t even need to read this.

I think my first reason is pretty simple.

Donald Trump is a trash person.

He is also the focal point of conversation on the platform. I left to create some distance between myself and his bullying, literal nonsense, and penile-inferiority induced threats. Donald Trump still exists. He’s still a threat to democracy and I still consume the news. But now I don’t have to wade through his mental flatulence and manufactured distractions just to catch up with the thoughts and opinions of people whom I do admire. I’m not pulling myself out of the game, I’m focusing.

My second reason is more debatable.

Twitter is a trash platform. It wasn’t always, but it most certainly is now. Verifying white supremacists, failing to prioritize safety, allowing itself to become a tool of Russian global destabilization, any one of these things should have been cause for deep reflection and collective action from Twitter and its leaders. I know fuck all about Jake Dorsey’s character and attacking it would be a waste of time to write or read. However, I can pass judgement on his actions. The lack of his actions, that is.

All my fellow “digital natives” need to wake the fuck up that there’s no such thing as a neutral platform. If I let the KKK rally on my lawn, I’m with the KKK. I’ve coached some of the CEOs of these platforms and I will never understand this strange vein of both utopianism and libertarianism. Maybe it’s that I grew up in a town with the KKK and they didn’t. I don’t know. A lot of smart people have told me it’s not Twitter, it’s the tweeter. They say Trump will be Trump no matter the medium. I disagree. I want Donald Trump to have to walk his wide ass to the press room to say his vile shit. He’s a classic bully and he folds like a cheap suit under real scrutiny. I want his pathetic base to be forced to march in their khakis and tiki torches at all times. I want to see them and I want them to see me. And I want the web to pull itself out of its own ass and take responsibility for the ways people are using their products.

A good friend of mine called social media the new tobacco. They make an addictive, lethal product and then tell us we are solely responsible for the consequences. I wonder if it’s time for a Truth campaign for the web.

My third reason is personal.

My brain is trash on Twitter. I’ve watched myself decline in recent years. It’s not hyperbole and it’s fucking hard to admit. Being always-on, as the advertisers say, has harmed my ability to produce original thought. Twitter has taught me mostly how to scroll endlessly and consume the 500 ways people react (in performance mostly) to meaningless recent events (spoiler: it’s mostly outrage). I just don’t think I have enough blind outrage to share with my 14k followers to stay relevant (though I’ve tried). My brain needs space. I need time to reflect on my own. I worry that my thoughts are just the quote retweets of others.

Do I think my leaving Twitter will actually make an impact?

No. If the last few years have taught me anything it’s that individuals have less Power (intentionally with a capital P) than I once hoped and that consequences happening for shitty actions are far rarer than I would want. I’m told this is the nature of things at middle age, but I am in no way obligated to like it, accept it, or put up with the glib, cynical retorts of others (“duh, dude”). I stay around because I think things can be better. If you don’t agree, why the hell are you even breathing?

I did leave myself an out, though.

I’ll come back if Twitter curbs Trump. I don’t need him suspended. I need him fenced in from threatening entire nations and specific individuals on the platform. Again, I want him to face a camera to defend his dick size.

A lot of people are saying it’s a micro-penis, by the way. Like it’s wider than it is long.