On Authoritarian Social Media: Political Aesthetics Escape Pod Exemplified
In the shadow of recent events, I have taken it upon myself to make concrete the issues relevant to social media, namely: the inefficient methods authority practices over populations of people it seeks to facilitate understanding between.
I believe that Political Aesthetics Escape Pod, like every Facebook group, is inherently inefficient as an oversized, solitudinous group, because it exists on a platform that allows the bias of authority to exert control over the voices of those who need to be heard; if we can can agree that we all possess the ability to inflict harm on others, including the violence that is imbued within the act of silencing a presently oppressed minority, we can not trust it, and its size, as an intersectional medium. In other words, because all Facebook groups operate by the same standards of authority, we can not expect Facebook to provide us with the means of expressing valued opinions in good faith, regardless of how efficient it has proven to be otherwise as a source of informative communication.
I implore those seeking solace in the authority of others to consider these facts and to reexamine their choice to entrust such a medium to treat them as equals in a world developed through the domination of The Other- in this case referential to the harm inflicted on those who know how healthy it is to express anger and frustration in meaningful ways. What is meaningful self-expression?
Meaningful self-expression is the act of being honest to one's emotions, and acting accordingly to present one's audience the fruit of such emotion. History has shown us the outcome of such. Therefore, to be surprised is an example of the ignorance one has subject themselves to by allowing themselves to entrust a potential source of equal footing in this politically frustrated atmosphere of simultaneous learning and sometimes, healing. There will be no other way around having a silenced voice until authority comes to terms with its own need to maintain power as a self-righteous beast of burdening ideology. This is truth until authority becomes self -aware of the power social media grants them over others.
I propose Facebook moderators, administrators, those with an abundance of clout, and all other forms of authority participant in politically-inclined Facebook groups, act upon their self-imposed and outwardly imposing value judgments, and seek a new form of consensus in deciding who belongs in their sphere of influence, as opposed to placing the power to silence an oppressed minority in the hands of the powerful few, leaving room for adaptability in the case of the changing views of the populations they oversee. If the Far-Left believes that communal spaces, if ‘communal’ can imply the building of a community with shared ideas and learning, have potential in providing society with equal access to the means of producing the spread of said ideas (eg. through discussion and argumentation in good faith), they will see to it that banning the harmed is not an efficient means of doing so- that giving the harm-less (for argument’s sake) equal access to this platform of discussion exemplifies a communal source of production. By seeking to monopolize and homogenize a mass of people as relatively large as the population of Political Aesthetics Escape Pod’s, the authority figures of so-called communally-signified Facebook groups marginalize the minority.
Consensus is a very, very laborious burden- the burden of which increases exponentially the larger the number of participants involved in consensus. Because of the patience required, it can only be said that only those who have said patience and time to labor through it are capable of enacting this sort of efficient authority over a community.
The fact that this labor is often unpaid results in a heightened possibility for betrayal, as emotional and physical restraints break down in an attempt to alleviate such a burden. This, however, does not make consensus 'impossible'. It only makes it more difficult to achieve.
Consensus, regardless of how encumbering it may be, can be made more efficient by means of confederation. By limiting the number of people being moderated, and by administration acting together as a body of authority, separate groups maintain the right to their own autonomy and therefore also may uphold the right to abstain, or maintain a joint alliance within the following proposals of consensus. This also allows for much less infighting as well as efficient means of regulating large populations of participants involved in these groups, most of which are moderated by a relatively small group of high-clout personalities either way.
These groups also ought to be more audience-specific, so that allies don’t get mixed in with oppressed minorities whose battle for wellbeing is also their lived experience and whose voices, therefore, are less likely to be silenced out of undue respect for an inherently disagreeable population. The problem of empowering administration in the hands of a motley few resides in the immovable mass of disagreement that amounts to a constant dissonance that weakens the group as a whole, which therefore also weakens its output of production. (see: Emma Goldman's Essay, Minorities vs. Majorities)
Some have already inquired on what sort of importance and urgency has possessed me to spend time writing this short essay. My answer is simple: when your identity and immutable self-expression is not only politicized, but sought after by authority to make a mule of, many of us become desperate to be heard. And for those of us who are more privileged than others, the strengthening of our discourse though dissonance also does us well. Some of us, more ambitious types, seek both as possible proactive outcomes. Many allies, with well-meaning hearts and honest-as-can-be souls, too seek these groups to learn and grow. By being banned from these groups one’s desperation to be heard and thus increase one’s potential for survival is invalidated. Many of us, belonging to these impoverished communities, end up invalidated.
Being silenced is nothing short of having your attempt at achieving wellbeing be quashed, eliminated, run down and subject to internal violence as one realizes that one less avenue with high potential is closed for the day .
That is precisely what was done in the Facebook group Political Aesthetics Escape Pod, when hundreds of Black leftists were removed from the group for being associated with a hypothetical “coup”. The language in and of itself (“coup”) is ironic in that the administration believes Facebook shoild not be taken seriously, while also maintaining that the ousting or removal of administration is violent (see: definition of coup; surely they don’t mean to prevent any acts of wit so the second definition is all that is left). Daily sustenance in the form of achieving exposure for the sake of alleviating one’s pain has been denied by anyone threatening to change authority for the sake of minority populations’ voices.
Allies, too, end up losing out on their chance to grow by feeding them only what authority deems is worthy. What does this say of the marginalized? The victims of daily systemic, isolated, and well-hidden violence? That they are not worthy of being learned of, and deserve to be kept in the dark. This is deed is performed by those who would, in the same breath, denounce the fake news of Fox Network and Breitbart as expressions of ‘hidden genocides’. These are only Facebook groups, and for many of us, these are the only ways in which we can influence others to help us escape our torture at the hands of authority. By acting as virtue officers of what constitutes as righteous or not righteous, thereby paralleling the manipulative and dishonest tactics of recent populist movements for the benefit of an uncertain social gain, authority, within the realm of social media, limits and beurocratizes the consent by which the disproportionately suffering participates in their own survival and wellbeing.
Not only is the safety of people of color indirectly influenced by the spread of awareness of issues we face, but also that of the white population. With a growing number of alt-right and neo-Nazis in the West, a large portion of their infiltration has occurred online via both Stormfront AND Facebook. The chances of a quiet, and successful, alt-right infiltration to gather intel on activists and organizers, or those merely seeking to increase the efficiency of activism and organization, grow exponentially in a group made of thousands of members where moderators ard only a fraction thereof. The amount of labor required to administrate a group that large with even a few hundred moderators makes it a lot easier for Neo-Nazis to hide behind unauthorized profiles on Facebook, assuming that these moderators are actively screening all the members in their groups. Thus it can be said that the larger the groupings of people on Facebook, the less safe a group is.
Assuming moderators and administrators alike do seek to treat these forums, their populations, and the causes they agitate for with as much importance as they attach to their livelihoods (and radicalization thereof), I conclude with the following potential solutions:
Facebook groups ought to either:
- limit their size so that labor required to run a Facebook group efficiently is also optimized
- voluntarily disallow oneself from enacting administration over a group if one finds themselves unable to do so, or
- create a confederal-ist network of smaller, more manageable Facebook groups with further-specified interests, so that consensus is easier to reach; moderators within each individual group will come to consensus over their own groups, and bringing to light their decisions in a communal pool of administration.
“...Not because I do not feel with the oppressed, the disinherited of the earth; not because I do not know the shame, the horror, the indignity of the lives the people lead, do I repudiate the majority as a creative force for good. Oh, no, no! But because I know so well that as a compact mass it has never stood for justice or equality. It has suppressed the human voice, subdued the human spirit, chained the human body. As a mass its aim has always been to make life uniform, gray, and monotonous as the desert. As a mass it will always be the annihilator of individuality, of free initiative, of originality.” —Emma Goldman