Is this live? Is this the internet? Is this me actually logging on to…what is it called? A Blog? Not sure I even remember how it works. How is it that, after disciplining myself to write every day for…what?…a decade? More than. I think I started blogging in 2006 when my third child was born. That iteration was pithily called An Undercurrent of Hostility which seemed a goodly name given the Anglican Wars going on at the time. It was all funny stories about children back then, and bread recipes. Gosh, I miss the days of the feed reader, of waking up and checking on The Wine Dark Sea and Pentimento and Et Tu Jen and DarwinCatholic…and, oh yes! there were some Anglicans—At A Hen’s Pace and Jessica.* But then Facebook came into the world, that Great Leviathan, and began to swallow everything up. Can’t remember exactly where I was going with my reminiscences, I just wanted to link this:
In a March meeting, Laura Dehmlow, an FBI official, warned that the threat of subversive information on social media could undermine support for the U.S. government. Dehmlow, according to notes of the discussion attended by senior executives from Twitter and JPMorgan Chase, stressed that “we need a media infrastructure that is held accountable.”
“We do not coordinate with other entities when making content moderation decisions, and we independently evaluate content in line with the Twitter Rules,” a spokesperson for Twitter wrote in a statement to The Intercept.
There is also a formalized process for government officials to directly flag content on Facebook or Instagram and request that it be throttled or suppressed through a special Facebook portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use. At the time of writing, the “content request system” at facebook.com/xtakedowns/login is still live. DHS and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, did not respond to a request for comment. The FBI declined to comment.
I think “declining to comment” is probably their best course of action. I do love this bit as well:
How disinformation is defined by the government has not been clearly articulated, and the inherently subjective nature of what constitutes disinformation provides a broad opening for DHS officials to make politically motivated determinations about what constitutes dangerous speech.
What’s so strange about this world, for me, is that I really don’t like being on Facebook and Twitter that much. In fact, I miss being able to read people’s longer thoughts about stuff that isn’t even about the last two years. Ordinary people used to write about what was going on in their lives and what they were thinking about. They read books. They read the Bible. They tried to make sense of the fractured though opulent nature of daily life, of being a Christian in a world that was shifting away from the comfortable assumptions of a Christian-ish “liberal” society to whatever it is we have now. Life was hard, but it was possible to make sense of it, to go against the grain, to see the growing storm cloud but not be too anxious about it because each day was rich and busy, exhausting and real. Am I being nostalgic?
Probably, so sue me (haha—don’t, please). Being a human person is so terrible because we can’t see the future. When all of us got on Facebook, and then Twitter, we didn’t know that eventually, we would find our lives and even our “speech”—if what happens in these “online spaces” can be called that—so constrained. It’s been a great unraveling, not just of the words, but of the concepts underneath them. It’s not just about the FBI being really anxious about what we all plan to say, it’s also about the unraveling of our minds, of replacing “lived reality” with LARPing and anxiety. It produces tweets like this one, which, to me, seems strange and a touch incomprehensible:
I have said before, it would behoove white evangelicals to consider why they are losing the support of Christians just as faithful as they are rather than simply writing them off as ‘not taking the Bible seriously.’
I’m not giving the link or the author because I don’t think the person saying whatever this is should be held entirely responsible for expressing a frustration felt no matter what level of faith or faithfulness one might possess. The person is trying to make sense of the world as it is, using the categories available to hand. She is lamenting a fracture that began so long ago but is only visible now. She thinks “it” is about “race,” but really, the tweet articulates a profound division over the nature of the very world in which we live. The “Christianity” she speaks of isn’t even recognizable to me. Her lamentation is mine as well.
We all bear some responsibility, though, because we all gave over our lives to these platforms. We wanted them, and they were given to us. Of course they were going to be used in various kinds of ways that eventually proved to be wrong and bad.
But what of the tweet itself? The idea that “white evangelicals” are “losing support?” The assumption underneath the term “white evangelical” is that there is a zero-sum battle going on for Christianity, for Evangelicalism, whatever that means today. The aggressors must be those “white” ones, whoever they are, who are trying to gain ground against the other ones. I suppose the tweet assumes that the “white ones” want bad things like “Christian Nationalism.” The tweet signals—a new and yet ancient kind of communication—virtue and goodness. It pleads for the status of victim from a lofty position of cultural and virtual power. The FBI would not probably be inclined to worry about this tweet.
Anyway, I haven’t been blogging because I am disoriented and grieved and tired. I have, for months, been contemplating giving up. Social Media has left Blogging lying there by the wayside, half-dead. But I don’t really want to leave it there to die its final death. I prefer blogging to almost everything else. It’s going to take me a while to build back the muscle, but I’m going to try. Hope to see you tomorrow!
*Don’t be mad at me if I didn’t name your old wonderful blog. I read so many every morning while I tried to grapple with the daylight and I Loved Them All.