Why I Stayed on Parler
When most of my friends and colleagues hear I’m on Parler, I get that look. No matter their political beliefs, they wonder why I’d label myself as part of a “far-right platform,” especially during a heated election cycle. The reasons are simple: less noise, no data mining, and no powers-that-be force-feeding me updates I don’t want.
As a precursor, I’d like to say that while Parler is home to a slew of Republicans, it’s also home to many creators, business owners, and other folks who don’t claim a political party, or at least don’t shout it from the rooftops. While plenty have made Parler a right-wing spot, the entire purpose of the network was to provide a place where you can talk about anything that’s covered by the First Amendment.
I don’t talk politics online, period. So the idea I can’t use a social media platform for something other than politics is ridiculous. That’s like saying everyone on Facebook and Twitter are party-affiliated, and it’s simply not the case. Just as people communicate with friends and loved ones on top networks, they can on smaller platforms like Parler and MeWe as well.
Judging me for my presence on a network that hosts millions of Trump supporters is like calling anyone who visits a bar an alcoholic. It also shows an utter lack of acceptance and tolerance.
While I’m still active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, my personal use of these networks has decreased lately because of the amount of manipulation they perform on members and the number of innocent posts being politicized by other users. As a marketer, I regularly study the psychological aspects of keeping people tuned in; Facebook and Twitter know this practice all too well. The Social Dilemma, for the most part, is quite accurate.
Here are all the reasons I maintain a Parler account without compromising my beliefs and morals:
Freedom of speech is paramount to Americans’ way of life
As I’ve always explained, free speech is a moral issue, not a political one. And while privately operated networks aren’t covered under the First Amendment, their actions speak volumes. A friend joking about killing her brother was recently put in Facebook jail. Another friend was temporarily banned for calling someone an asshole. Neither of these was a threat in any way, yet Facebook took swift action.
Offending someone does not automatically translate to threatening behavior. Yet, every day good people are getting slapped with timeouts. This most often is due to individuals who don’t directly work for Facebook, making the call based on their own beliefs.
Don’t get me wrong. If a private forum wants to institute rules to keep discussions on topic, that’s not a free speech issue. It’s actually quite acceptable. For example, I’m a moderator for the Van Halen News Desk, which disallows political talk. However, there’s no special treatment — no matter the candidate or sub-topic, political comments are filtered out. Members can report comments, but the action taken is based solely on the content posted.
The difference between Facebook and Twitter, and other forums, though, is their claim to be a place to talk about anything. I’ve seen outrageous levels of censorship that actually violate their terms of service. Hence, the banning of one’s sister when she’s taking stabs at her brother. One can only wonder who reported the offense.
Mining personal data is how networks own your time and make money off your thoughts
I’m fully aware of how websites and platforms collect information on me. I don’t have anything to hide, really. While it may seem hypocritical for me to use networks that mine my data, the fact is this information has already been up for grabs long before any of these sites existed. However, I do believe that every user should know upfront exactly what is collected and why, and it shouldn’t be buried deep in the fine print. I also think continually refreshing databases with one’s every move for no other purpose than money is pretty creepy.
Facebook’s practices go beyond its own channel. With millions of websites integrating various elements of big blue’s SDK, way more is collected and utilized to force-feed content and monetize. That means navigating an online store can prompt specific content to appear in your Facebook feed, and Facebook makes money off your mere thinking about a purchase. It’s what Google started practicing many years prior, but on a much larger scale. Facebook owns Instagram, too.
I want to use social media to escape tribulations
I go to my local bar to get my mind off the day’s work. I want to mingle with friends, throw darts, and sing karaoke. I’m not there for drama and hassles. The same goes for social media. I want to see all the milestones being met by my loved ones. I want to congratulate friends on successes and convey sympathy and empathy when necessary. On a personal level, I’m not on social media to witness fights, get sucked into egotistical debates, and spew hate. Yes, I’ve failed at times by doing just that. And I immediately am disappointed in myself. Today, even witnessing such attacks makes me feel worse.
While my family and close friends aren’t on Parler, I am meeting some fantastic people who are there for the same reason. They want less noise and less drama. On Parler, I market, talk about music, review various mediums of art, and chat about anything but politics. I still have to kick a few trolls off my posts, but for the most part, it’s relatively quiet on the news front.
It’s easy to judge someone for the supposed company they keep
Years ago, Twitter was fun. I was connected with a slew of business people who gave great advice, as well as people who’d keep me busy reading hilarious hashtag challenges on a random night. If someone trolled, they were either ignored or shut down rather quickly. Today, you can barely tweet a thing without someone taking huge issues and getting all their cronies to jump in to help. Fact: One follower, upon finding out I had a Parler account, made a point to reply, “unfollow.” That’s it: no discussion and no consideration as to why I’m even there.
Nonetheless, I know there are plenty of great people on Twitter. I don’t judge them for the platform they use. I’m not as concerned about the network as I am about the people themselves. And while conservatives make up the majority of Parler’s user base, it doesn’t make up 100% of it. I take issue with blaming a platform that allows people to pick and choose what they see and who they converse with merely because millions banned from other networks opted to go there.
Parler has a long way to go if it wants to be viewed as a platform for everyone
I won’t dispute this. But the perception of one-sidedness doesn’t stem from Parler itself; it’s assumed based on the beliefs of some of its critics — just as many view Twitter as being a liberal platform, despite there being a vast amount of non-liberals on board. It all boils down to how you use the network, and I choose to use it in a positive, productive manner.
Which leads me to the final reason I continue to use Parler.
If a company has a specific mission, it should have the opportunity to fulfill it
Becoming a far-right platform was never Parler’s intent. Its focus was on two things: free speech and no data mining — issues people from all walks of life regularly complain about.
I remember when people shamed Facebook because of all the game invites they received, even though it was the users sending them out en masse. After some time, Facebook gave users control over blocking the requests. Not even this is a relative example, though. Today, we make quick decisions without even looking under the hood.
While I’m uncertain of Parler’s future, I hope it can become a place where everyone feels at least somewhat welcome. But I know that could only happen if we stop looking at everything from a political perspective and realize that it was designed to be a place where we can simply be ourselves.