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Mean girls and their big brother

The internet and social media can be like high school. You have your nerds, your cool kids, your jocks, your prom queens, your misfits. Like Breakfast Club with a modem. There are always some mean girls. That is, those with nothing positive to say, who like to throw shade, are judgemental put-downers. And they don't have to be girls. There are a lot of guys online who are mean girls.

It's also like an orchestra that builds and builds for you to buy buy and buy some more. You mention a couch in an message and suddenly every other advertising is offering you sales on sofas. You join a group for hiking and for the next week all sorts of goods appear related to trekking.

It is also a sketchy back alley. You've got frauds, swindlers, and criminals.

For me, the best of what is possible with social media is Humans of New York - shared stories, positive acts, extending into collective movements in real life for social justice and good.

At its worst, it is online communities that breed hatred and division. They come now as coordinated attacks and hacks of democracy, stirring hate, forcing extreme opinions. These are dangerous trolls because they have impact in real life and incite violence, hate, racism, bigotry.

Of course, there is a Harry Potter element with the Dark Net where the ne'er-do-wells lurk like cyber snakes.

It's also an advice column, a library, a meeting spot, a lecture hall, a podium, a stage, a show.

We are the ones that are the spectacle, the goods, to whom opinions and objects are bought and sold.

Big brother watches and listens.

He counts his money

And he counts his ballots.

And he counts on you to be lulled into a false sense of security.


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