By groupies, I mean social network groups like those in Facebook. Politics and political organizing has moved to Facebook. That’s a natural evolution in a growing digital world. This blog is another manifestation of that same evolution. Prior to Facebook, other social networks and blogs, e-mail and e-mail lists were the mechanisms used by the political savvy.
With e-mails and e-mail lists, we also received SPAM. It became necessary to scrutinize whether any particular e-mail was from a friend or from some one with an agenda or was a malicious attempt to do you damage. We now have anti-virus, SPAM detectors and malware applications to protect us.
With Blogs, we also were presented with propaganda, with statements presented as truth but in reality are fantasy. Some of those mis-truths and lies were driven by personal and political agendas. They were attempts to spread misinformation to support an agenda. There are no apps yet to prevent the spread of propaganda. We must decided whether to accept or reject information as it is presented. We must develop personal propaganda filters.
We have all that with social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. There are more than these two networks. I’m just using them as examples. Social networks have all the advantages of e-mail lists and blogs. And they also have all the failings.
I didn’t use a social network much until this last year and I did so with a large degree of skepticism. It is easy to create a false persona. It is easier to present a false agenda to collect “friends” to persuade them to accept you viewpoints. It’s easier if you do so while keeping your agenda at a low profile.
Hook ’em while you “educate” them.
I have joined three Facebook groups. I dropped two and remain with the third. The first group I joined was purported to be a local Tea Party group. Maybe it was…originally. It didn’t take long to realize it was one person with an agenda who was trying to create a following. When I uncovered the agenda, it was one that I could not subscribe. The organizer was pushing the so-called Fair Tax. He had all the usual talking points and refused to acknowledge any alternate views.
I’ve written about the Fair Tax and my opposition to it in previous blogs. Suffice to say I believe the implementation of a national sales tax will evolve into a Value Added Tax as practiced in Europe and we will have a national VAT tax as well as an Income Tax. The Income Tax is anchored in the 16th Amendment. If you want to remove the income tax, you must first repeal the 16th Amendment. That will not happen.
The next group I joined was a state-wide group of conservative activists. They are a 501(C)3 organization and are prohibited from campaigning for any particular candidate. I hadn’t known that when I first joined. My error. I’m still a member of this group although in light of recent events I have to review how this revelation will affect my activities within the group.
The third group, one I left yesterday, was another with an agenda. An agenda that I disavow. I was invited to join a week or so ago. I observed the posts, made a few to get a feel for the group.
It had been presented as a grass-roots organization to support conservative issues. Or so I thought. After observing the posts and reading the comments I discovered two agendas of this group.
One agenda was the Fair Tax. There was a so-called expert in the group who repeated the usual talking points. No alternate view tolerated. The second agenda was pushing the candidacy of Ron Paul. Paulbots.
I’ve said in other posts that in my opinion Ron Paul is unfit to hold any elected or appointed public office. Some of his comments such as supporting Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons make me question his sanity. Once I discovered this group’s agendas, I left.
Social networking groups can be the avenue to link people of like minds, and many are. Others, however, are the modern equivalent of the Snake Oil salesmen of the 19th century. They sell a worthless, and sometimes dangerous product. Con artists. When you interact with these groups you must also shield yourself with a large amount of skepticism. When dealing with people whom you have no personal knowledge, Ronald Reagan’s advice is appropriate, “Trust but Verify.” The degree of trust must be built as you investigate and verify the purported positions of these people and organizations.
If you do not and cannot not subscribe to the agenda(s) of the group, you must leave.
All too many people accept whatever is presented to them on the internet as truth. I heard an acquaintance recently repeat some information he read on the internet or something that he heard and found some corroboration on the internet. You can find anything on the internet. Just because it’s there doesn’t make it true. It was an outlandish position. One supposedly engineered by the government. However it was obvious to anyone who had at least a high school level of science education that the supposed acts were beyond and contrary to scientific fact. The position was completely false.
Perhaps we should modify Reagan’s advice, “Verify then Trust.” Verification is not just one instance of corroboration. It must be a multitude of corroboration. Not a single piece, or even two or three pieces that appear to support a position but hundreds, thousands of articles that supports the issue or position.
Skepticism is a good and necessary attribute to acquire when dealing with the internet. All too many people don’t and they provide food for the predators in social networks and elsewhere.
It’s OK to be a groupie. But be a smart groupie, understand the agenda of your group and accept their agenda or leave. That’s what liberty is all about. The freedom to leave when you do not or can no longer abide with the agenda of your group.
Be smart. Educate yourself and develop your own positions and political stance. Don’t be a robot following other’s agenda. Be an individual and make your own