The Struggle Continues
On Nov. 7, 2017, I posted this on FB from a place in North Carolina:
I voted. I enjoyed voting more than I expected. I felt renewed confidence that my politics really have become laser focused on evaluating the possibility that almost everything the power brokers in Silicon Valley say is best understood as vicious sarcasm. They’ve baked a profoundly distorted, toxic worldview into every aspect of how they use language, and they got into that groove while maximizing profits for insiders. There’s a story to be told about how I was part of that, but the numbers are also really clear. I didn’t agree with their direction or their vision, and I got out. I was not part of what Facebook, in particular, has been doing at any time since summer 2010.
I think the fear that authoritarianism is on the march is primarily a consequence of Silicon Valley’s unspeakably arrogant and irresponsible actions on the world stage. What Silicon Valley’s doing is worse than random violence. They’re using deceit on an unprecedented scale that could lead to mass violence and suffering in the near future if nothing changes. With violent people, it’s easier for everyone else to decide who the bad actors are. (Hint: the people who use violence are almost always bad.) Silicon Valley has also become overwhelmingly bad, but they’re highly skilled at framing themselves as innocent and helpful. They’re also using leverage. They’re using more leverage than has ever been used in human history.
If any of the people in leadership circles in Silicon Valley read this message, they’ll probably dismiss me as an ineffectual, delusional fool who should take anger management classes, and that’s what makes them so dangerous. Angry people don’t vote and then write messages like this. This is not an aggressive message, especially not in the context of the bone chilling amount of harm that Silicon Valley is already causing and will continue to cause. I know I’m not explaining the problem effectively, but I reject the Silicon Valley attitude that just because I can’t fully explain why their method of making billions in profit is unethical means I should say and write nothing while they keep iterating on their tools of oppression. I may have less than no voice today, but I’m going to build new technology tomorrow that will exist independently of their rising form of tyranny. I’ll also continue to vote.
I posted this a day later, just before going to sleep:
I’m pondering what I wrote yesterday, and there is an ideal response I’d like to see. The big tech companies may not be able to figure it out unless I share, so here goes:
It’s easier if they do this as a coalition. These companies have deep relationships that aren’t entirely bad for consumers. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google could also gang up on Facebook and run them out of business on the basis that social media is different and should be restructured as a partnership between governments and the private sector. Maybe the American electorate should make a recommendation :)
Either way, it’s within the realm of possibility that they could spend $1 million in total costs out of the billions they’re raking in every few months and take a closer look at why this guy Todd Perry is so critical of them. What they’ll find is that I actually was severely bullied and discriminated against in a particular way that has to do with people perceiving my facial injury as a facial expression and then becoming biased towards telling negative stories about me. It’s a wonderful case study in how unconscious bias can become a self-reinforcing process that shapes companies, industries, and political discourse in general.
The closer you look at the facts of my experience, the more obvious it gets that what happened to me is an example of what companies should avoid doing. It might be easier if the industry scapegoats Facebook, but I’d be equally supportive of helping Facebook evolve its culture and business model so that they can maintain their position.
The bad news is that I don’t see how they can avoid telling a story about how they got started by making it normal to hustle market participants. The good news is that I’m under the impression they can also argue that they never really broke the law. They competed vigorously in the market, and now that they’re on top of the pile, they need to advocate for a new code of corporate conduct in order to avoid a situation where people like me literally die of exposure to deprivation and risk.
They need to make a statement along those lines which shows that they get it. It’s time for them to stop acting like the don’t understand what’s happening.
That said, I’m sad to say that I don’t expect the big tech companies to do the right thing here. The data I have about them doesn’t paint a promising picture. We had the Civil War and then WWI and WWII. This time around, I won’t be surprised if the action occurs around hacking and armies of covert operatives really going at it and ruining each others lives permanently.
I’m concerned that many millions of people like me will simply die unjustly within that transitional paradigm before a meaningful resolution emerges from the sea of pain. The rhetoric is likely to keep getting worse. Reality goes out the window.
With a little luck, the big tech companies can work with state actors to keep the heavy weapons out of it. There are many possible futures, and I think that’s one of them.
And then, I added this comment in the morning:
I had great dreams after writing this! One quick addition: I’m aware that it sounds tone deaf to ask the tech companies to spend a million dollars on an issue that would have a side effect of benefiting me, but the very, very dry joke here that everything they’re doing might be dependent on this misunderstanding. The headline should be, “Big Tech firms put three trillion of shareholder value at risk because they can’t afford to be seen spending a million dollars on a one time investigation into the root cause of their problem.”
Last but not least:
I put my last two FB posts in an article at https://medium.com/@toddperry/the-struggle-continues-905fafffb820
I’m hopeful this article will hold up for the long term as a definitive journalistic frame for the facts I shared back in April at http://sharkinjury.com
I probably won’t post anymore on FB, except for temporary alerts about health and safety. I’d like to find an alternative platform for those use cases too, but I don’t have one yet.
I’m also going to remove comments. Sharing or blogging is a good way to comment on my writing. I’m always happy to receive electronic messages as well. My schedule is open for chatting online, but it might not always be.
If representatives of FB or one of their peer companies would just acknowledge the reality of how people react to my facial injury, there would be so much opportunity that could rapidly unfold. I have an abundance of knowledge, good energy, and love to give, but I can’t overcome powerful people who systematically deny the facts about my lived experience.
If more and more people keep using FB, then I may have to become a very isolated person for the rest of my life. They may become de facto authorities, and I will become a true political dissident. They have made it clear they will never show mercy and allow for me to build shared realities on their watch that are based on facts, and they don’t even have law enforcement powers right now!
I used to give Big Tech credit for not using violence to silence me, but one of the ideas I’ve considered deeply while being an outcast is that companies like FB might implode if word gets out that they use violence. Their people are not keen to make war, yet. Their engineering core would probably still walk out on the leadership if there were a credible rumor that someone like me had been handled with violence, but that’s changing. I see their ranks getting harder every day. Big Tech is scary.
On a positive note, I’ve already learned a lot about the world. I have a good sense of human nature that I’ve only begun to elaborate with a computer, or pen and paper, or even just in my mind. If I can never find a space that is free of Big Tech’s robotic denial of my humanity, then I’ll just be alone. My guess is that I’ll find spaces, but I can survive for many years even if I never do.
Big Tech might also change, but probably not before they snuff out millions more lives like mine. Few people will have the same resources that I have been able to muster to stay alive after their identity and the facts about their life have been invalidated by the hive mind of Big Tech. At the rate they’re going, it could get really messy.
I came of age letting the leaders of Big Tech form a world view that was based on stacking together blatantly false narrative framing elements about me. In fairness, they may not have ever been aware that they were relying on the use of deceit. The effect of my facial injury is subtle. It affects people at a subconscious level. It took me fifteen years to figure it out, and I had access to way more data about this matter than anyone else!
People are always challenging me with lines like, “Is it even remotely possible that you might be wrong?” I guess they just can’t wrap their head around the idea that I spent years at a 10% confidence level. I spent a decade forcing myself to stay 90% confident that everyone else was right and I was wrong to suspect that something funny was going on with my facial injury.
Then my confidence went up to 30%. I started to talk about it. Then 50%. I formulated a theory, but I thought I might be genuinely delusional. I really thought I was losing my mind, and I looked into it. Then 80%, and I spent multiple years there, too. I got better at describing what’s happening, but I knew as a scientist that I only had something like an 80% confidence level.
I spent whole years suffering under the 20% possibility that I might still prove to have been substantially delusional for a minute, but the facts kept on supporting the theory, so my confidence increased. It’s above 99% now. Maybe other people should try opening their minds up to a 1% possibility that my theory is very, very strong?
My point is that I’ve learned to protect myself from false narratives. I won’t be a part of creating anything like Big Tech again. I helped them get a monopoly on misrepresenting the facts about how people react to my facial injury, but I won’t help anyone else do that. I’d like to expose the willful ignorance of Big Tech and live to see a day when their web of lies about people like me can be replaced with a new commitment to science and humility before that which is greater than our own perception and self-image.
I’ll end with these words. My intention is to be kind, and valuing diversity is essential. I’ve gained so much from learning about the perspective of people with different racial backgrounds from my own. I’ve had many important experiences with people who identify under the LGBTQ umbrella. I work to appreciate religion, and I cherish human expressions of the divine. I have several stories in mind about how the practice of Islam in America has added greatly to my life. I wish I had more of these stories. I read a lot about deportation and the struggles of people outside America, and the facts make me sad to the core. There’s some really emotionally hard actions being taken lately, and all the data suggests that the pain associated with these outcomes has increased dramatically under Trump. I’d like to do more to make immigration policy less cruel, and if I’m unable to affect meaningful change in the near term, I can still help people gain access to muscular platforms for offering protest. I oppose rape and sexual misconduct in all its forms. I will check my power and my privilege. I will commit to being mindful and seek higher meaning through offering service to others. I will smile. I will study history. I will honor the wisdom of the Earth and the heavens above, and I choose to believe that life is what we make of it.