Cambridge Evilitica changes nothing.
It’s not news that people are trying to manipulate you. Right from the TV commercials that were being fired at your mom while you were in utero, you’ve been treated as a cog in a big evil capitalist machine. Long ago, some cave man experimented with which cave-door-drawings would bring the most people for him to trade wooly mammoth tusks with, and ever since then every major systemic power has tried to sway the masses. Ads and manipulation are not a new evil… they are a replacement for an older evil that involved fire, brimstone, military weapons, occasionally classroom worksheets. Manipulation is just what people do.
So is gossiping. It’s not news that people are gathering your information, either.
You’re picturing someone peering in detail at each of your status updates, but don’t worry—even your mom doesn’t care that much. Think of it more like a clicker counting traffic on a busy street. They’re looking for trends. For vulnerable people who are easily manipulated. For anger, fear, and ignorance. Isolation. Entitlement.
If you don’t want to be aimed at with that weapon, then don’t be the kind of person they’re looking for. Don’t post content you’d be ashamed to have discovered by anyone. Don’t re-post fake information or one-sided diatribes. Don’t spend time crouched in combat with trolls who don’t matter. Find and be part of conversations that do matter. That build bridges.
And by all means, #deletefacebook if that's what it takes. But don't be under any delusions about what that will or won't solve.
Because it's not that simple. If you were manipulatable on Facebook, you'll be manipulatable on whatever shiny new app lights up the night sky as our next communal north star. The problem is not the night sky, or picking the right or wrong star to follow. They're all essentially the same stars.
What matters is the quality of the compass you're using.
What matters is how tuned in you are to who you are, what you want, and your compassion for those around you. What matters is having the kind of deep rudder that makes it hard for others to steer your ship for you. So if you don’t want to be manipulated, don’t be that person. Be someone who isn’t steered by fear, hate, or simple thinking.
Be the kind of person that hosts conversations on their wall where a diversity of people share really deeply about the important things. Where they disagree and get hurt and wise and surprised and a zillion other things.
Be the kind person who chimes in to hold space for another perspective when things get too one sided.
Be the kind of person that asks why—that reads news critically and watches for the stuff that makes the world too simple. Who doesn’t amplify messages that make the reader feel too good, too angry, too self righteous, or too justified.
Be the kind of person who refuses to be afraid of the downtrodden, when being afraid for them is a much more rational response. Be the kind of person who not only isn’t fear-angry-isolated-exhasted-entitled, but is also looking out for the people who are that way... And asking how that happened and what can be done.
Be the kind of person who lives in the world, too. Who plants tulip bulbs on the meridian, and walks their kids to school and dances while doing dishes. Who pauses in the early light of morning to think about what kind of tea would be just perfect, and reads a book for twenty minutes by candle light just because it feels good. Who listens to their gut in a million tiny and huge ways. Who volunteers, and goes to community events, and loves the faces they know in the flesh a million times more than any face from a screen.
And then, be the kind of person who stands up for their neighbour’s rights to do that exact same thing. To have the safety and time and resources to plant tulips or make brownies or whatever their guts feels like doing today.
Manipulation has existed forever, and will exist forever, and there is nothing you can delete that is going to change that reality. It’s the addition of the rudder that is really going to protect you. And others.
So add things.
Live full. Live real. Live connected.
And fight for your neighbour’s chance to do the same.