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Culture Shock: from Facebook to Minds (updated)

dragonMay 15, 2018, 8:27:56 AM

[Gail McGowan Mellor is dragon@authorpendragon on Minds. 
Minds illustration above is by Thyers -- MrRobot@Thyers]

My buddies on both Minds.com and Facebook.com are talented, sharply intelligent, knowledgeable, funny, caring and liable to act to improve the world, because that's the kind of people who draw me everywhere. Minds is still under construction. Parts are rudimentary. Yet the Minds experience is eye-opening. If you're tough, it's glorious; and this dream is worth working toward. Two million therefore have already flooded into Minds, many from Facebook. Additional millions have been checking in, watching. We're out of Beta, out of Testnet, Ethereum crypto tokens are integrated, the engineering crew has doubled in size. Here we go.... 

Jumping to Minds is always a shock to the system, like diving into clear water on a hot day. 
There's a fabulously diverse colony of writers, artists, photographers, videographers and indie reporters here, just organizing. A monopoly until now, Facebook does not provide its users with state-of-the-art graphics capacity, because it doesn't have to....

(1) Wait till you see the animations! Graphics when posted on Minds are prelucid in color and nuanced in detail even as stills.... 

Sorrento by @Eric Jordan

(2) Voices on Minds moreover grow as clarion as the graphics. Therefore, the second shock is what it feels like to truly speak your thoughts, or even to fully think them, knowing that you could speak out safely if you chose.  

On Facebook, the number of friends and followers who see your posts depends on Facebook's whim, currently it's about 5%. Facebook also decides what news you may read and which words you may use, forces you to use your own name then sells your personal information

Facebook moreover is "proprietary"; its code is secret; even programmers cannot see what it's up to. So p
eople either rigidly censor themselves or give up all hope of privacy.  Minds in stark contrast doesn't spy on, censor, admonish or bundle and sell you. You can use a pseudonym (I'm dragon@authorpendragon) for fun, from caution or to hide from some stalker, or you can use your own name.  Up to you. Minds is "open source" so if you can read code -- and many on Minds can -- you know that no one on Minds is mining data to sell to Time-Warner or the NSA. 

Consequently, those on Minds who were previously silent often speak out. Most who keep a foot in each place find themselves speaking up more on Facebook as well -- because they get used to it on Minds, and because they know now that Facebook is no longer the only game in town.

(3) On Minds, remember that people with every attitude imaginable are speaking up too. It can be frightening/infuriating/intriguing to discover that it's not just you.

The free speech approach that Minds takes was born in the wildly-free 1980s pre-AOL Internet, sheltered for decades in the Deep Web from the growing AOL/Facebook/Google censorship storm, was claimed by Anonymous and now radiates outward from Minds founders Bill and John Ottman and Mark Harding.  Once, back on the 1980s Net, there were no brakes on free speech. Because bandwidth was limited and some "rants" -- infuriated speeches -- were endless. So the Well in San Francisco in the late 1980s invented "monitored threads" basically to hold down the endless-ranters and give everyone a chance to speak. Reasonable. 

Next however AOL in the early 1990s introduced puritanical censorship. AOL prohibited for example use of the word "breast". The AOL algorithm deleted posts and comments not only on "sexy breasts" but on "breastfeeding", "breast of turkey", "breast cancer" and "breast of the new fallen snow"! 

The more recent "political correctness" of course shows an adult understanding of what slur words can do to little kids. By being sensitive to another's history it avoids fights with other adults where none need happen. However, while it is anathema in much of the Left to say so, when political correctness is imposed on others by the only big speech platform on the web, it's censorship. Given Facebook's near-monopoly until now, it's a violation of the First Amendment. It's also counterproductive. Keeping people from saying things does not stop them from thinking those things and acting on them; you just don't see them coming.... 

We perhaps don't see ourselves.To the Left, for example, what's funny is irony and hypocrisy, especially big wigs demonstrating what jerks they are without realizing it. Most on the Left will tell you that the Right "has no sense of humor": "Where are its Lee Camps? John Olivers? Jon Stewarts? George Carlins?" The Left will tell you that the closest the Right ever got to being funny was Stephen Colbert pretending to be a rightwinger (you know, back when Stephen Colbert was funny).  

Actually the Right does have a sense of humor, and to some segments of the Right, much of it depends on baiting leftwingers. To the Alt-Right, what's funny is telling a dedicated Progressive that "Hitler was obviously a good man because baby deer liked him" and that he was "right about Jews" -- anything to anger the always-earnest leftwing -- then leaning back to watch them froth as they try to preach and teach. 

Rightwing meme artists take the mickey out of everybody, even make fun of the rightwing tendency to believe in anything as long as it's a dark conspiracy theory. The Flat-earthers, for example, are the Right making fun of the Right, offering elaborate "scientific" evidence that the earth isn't round. 

Kekistan, an imaginary country, is by contrast a truly touchy subject, as for some is Pepe the omnipresent green frog -- a tour de force of paperthin logic and magical thinking. Kekistan was, according to the Left, thought up by some leftwingers who at last pulled off a gigantic meme of their own. The Right says that this is ridiculous, that no leftwinger can make a successful meme; this is known. The Right says that it comes from the right and has deep occult significance.... 

One Official User View (by which I mean that there's nothing official about it) comes from David Gasten  "Regarding the Cult of Kek, You've got the SPLC openly spreading rumors that Pepe the Frog and the Cult of Kek are coded white supremacy. Turns out it was nothing more than an elaborate prank that Trump supporters successfully pulled on earnest progressive SJW's in 4chan. Replace KEK with LOL and it makes more sense. Not to mention, why would white supremacists use a frog with an Hispanic name?"

For anyone who is oddly inclined to plunge deeper into already outdated inanity, David suggests a far-from-canonical articleSimply remember that these memes, these often elaborate send-ups which catch fire across the world, attract superbly credulous people who believe the memes, real flat-earthers and people who really believe that Kekistan exists, to say nothing of those who take Pepe very seriously, ancient Egyptian god and all that. 

So i
f you're a Progressive, please ignore blatant, elaborate provocation, don't take the bait. Please. You'll be there soulfully teaching history all night while those who are deliberately provoking you laugh up their sleeves.The truth is, most don't believe that stuff any more than you do. Those who do believe it, believe it deeply, and are in no mood to be convinced. 

This may sound odd, but don't bother to be hurt. That's what trolls live for. 

If you are dizzied, repelled or terminally bored by someone's relentlessly adolescent channel, block it. [Click on the twerp's icon which will take you to his/her channel. To the right side of the name are three faint dots. Click them. There you can UnSubscribe to, or Block, that channel.] Subscribe to people who actually want a conversation. You'll find lots of them. You'll hear people from every viewpoint and level of awareness speak out on Minds -- from physicists to flat-earthers, from misogynists to feminists, from atheists and secularists to the blissfully spiritual to the calmly religious to the zealots, from those exquisitely alert to every legally-actionable micro-aggression to self-identified Nazis who say (and some who actually believe) that Adolf Hitler was a misunderstood Teddy Bear. You'll find music, art, discussions of anything you could name, and laughter.... 

In public and answering questions online, the founders -- CEO Bill Ottman, COB John Ottman, CTO Mark Harding -- and COO Jack Ottman are unflappable, impeccably courteous, politically correct. That's because that's professional good sense when running a free speech channel, and that's who they as individuals are. Their creation, Minds.com, however does not impose political correctness on anyone, because above all, the Minds team are online revolutionaries acting to expand not only free speech but open source architecture, personal privacy and blockchain distribution. So above all perhaps, if you like conversation, no matter which side you're on, don't enter a discussion here to win. Enter it to discuss, to express yourself and to understand how others think. 

That brings liberty of every sort. What though are the boundaries? Certainly not the ones you've seen elsewhere....

(4)  As broad as free speech is on Minds, there are limits, because every freedom denies another. (An unlimited right to kill for example would deny the right of others to live. An unlimited right to live on the other hand would deny the right of others to kill even in self-defense.  Real freedom requires balance.) On Minds, you have a right to say or see pretty much whatever you wish. So do others. You also have a right not to listen to or witness it. The Right of Free Speech is balanced on Minds by your Right to Privacy.

Not some owner's privacy. 

Yours. Minds gives you as a user privacy rights even against the Minds developers themselves -- your right for example to send encrypted messages that the Minds admins have no way of reading -- and the right not to have sights and words forced on you by them or anyone.

The flip side of gorgeous graphics is full color, often beautifully-rendered porn, ranging from tasteful nudes to pure raunch. 
The Minds developers do prohibit child porn and any other content that is illegal in the United States where Minds is based. Beyond that the choice is yours. If people subscribe to you, they'll see everything that you publicly post. The only exception is if you publish explicit material (which you should label with the "E' click) and some of your subscribers don't want to see porn. They'll raise an "E" filter, which will still let them see everything else that you post.

On Minds, you can  personally subscribe to or block any channel -- any person -- you wish. That's all your choice, not a choice made by Minds developers.  Unlike that huge "free" social media site that henceforth shall not be -- ahem -- named, nobody here will tell you that your subscribers cannot see your output unless you pay. More, you have your channel, your turf, where you shape the visuals, the conversations, what goes. My advice is to be polite about it , but if someone who is on your channel, visiting your turf, doesn't follow your rules of the road -- whatever they are -- kick the person off. Subscriptions tend to build up quickly if you've got something good. Increasingly free to explore the world of our thoughts and everyone else's, to "Mindread", we begin by seeing clearly through each other and grow to see at least dimly through ourselves.... 

(5) On most hot subjects, Minds people simply agree to disagree. There are some tricks to doing that successfully. Here, those who try to hammer others into agreement soon find that they don't have many others to talk to.  Accustomed to being micromanaged and censored, new people often come into Minds either aggressive or defensive, in either case swinging at shadows.  No need. When people are suppressed for years or decades, not allowed to talk frankly to anyone but people who are like them, their sourcing moreover gets sloppy. In an echo chamber, there's no real need to prove your points beyond citing someone else who agrees with you. 

make all the wild accusations about life that you wish. Seriously. Vent. Be prepared though to cite neutral sources. I keep saying this, but Keep your cool. Those with opposing views may at first call each other names that they think are devastating. Ignore it; getting mad only encourages it.

The best answer is to ask meaningful questions. 
Giving any example at this point in my explanation is going to annoy somebody. In discussing political-correctness as a form of censorship, I irritated some on the Left. Let me here, in describing the use of questions instead of attacks, annoy some people on the Right: white identitarians. 

Like everyone else on the planet, whites of every description do not want their children growing up ashamed of or endangered by an inherent characteristic, in this case their skin. That's being a good human parent. You can relate to that, whatever your views. 
True, White Pride people denounce "identity politics" while focusing rigidly on the politics of their own identity, but hey. Fear lies at the base of this -- that all ethnic identity will be lost in global sameness, that European art, language and inventions will be lost, that their kids won't be given a fair chance, that all whites will be killed or otherwise die out.  

So far, these are concerns that all ethnic groups have experienced. So no matter which "side" you're on in a hot topic, you can find a sweet spot like that where everyone gets it, and leave it right there, let it ride while you talk about things that interest you both: photography, music, a new invention, an old skill....

If you want to discuss something dicey, be sure that the other person wants to engage.  If that person is game to talk, for pete's sake don't start telling them what they think, askBe sure you're talking about the same thing.

As noted, if it's the latest form of Pepe or Kek and you're not already there, don't even try. 
Asking meaningful questions may result in a trolling answer, but may also start a real conversation. To go back to the white idenditarian example, ask: What's "a white"? How does the other person use that word? Does he or she see it as someone whose ancestors were all Caucasians (that is Europeans, Russians, Iranians, Arabs or Jews)? Aryans (that would include many people in India)? Perhaps someone whose ancestors were all Europeans (this including only those from the northern Germanic tribes and Celts like the Scots, Irish and Spanish plus the French, Italians, and Greeks)? Or northern Europeans only? How many whites by any definition accept White Nationalist and White Supremacist views?  

In a discussion, whether on the right or the left, don't get baited, even if offline you're gnawing on the woodwork and punching a pillow. 

If they write in CAPS, stay lowercase. Get evidence before you believe or assert anything. 
Listen. Be ready to admit it if you're wrong. There's a big payoff. People may not agree on key issues, but with serious questions and genuine listening, conversation gets fact-based and productive, and both sides often begin to see a synthesis, that point where their seemingly antithetical positions agree....You don't think that such points exist?

(6) On Minds we've encountered an astonishing trove of agreement. We all love free speech, beauty, the outdoors, music, high tech and laughter, and most either can take a joke or soon learn to. Our laughter tends to be irreverent in all directionsAlmost to a person,  U.S. people on Minds oppose both the Republican-Neoconservative and Democratic-Neoliberal wings of the Washington Establishment, oppose corrupt politicians (if that's not redundant), oppose child marriage, censorship, endless war, the corporate version of globalism, global corporate control of national governments, forced taxpayer subsidy of global corporations, the "mainstream" media, the counterproductive War on Drugs, mass surveillance, Israeli treatment of Palestinians, central and global bankers, Monsanto and it would seem the Clintons. Still. Few things pulled us together across continents faster than that 2017 troll war.... 

(7) Minds is ours, in a number of ways belongs to us, because we can invest in it, we can monetize our content, because for a gifted programmer with a bright idea for adding to Minds, there's a sandbox to play in. We moreover are an outspoken lot and the developers talk to us constantly, explaining and listening. So when Minds was attacked, we erupted in defense of it.... 

We were hit in fall 2017. Someone began posting gross scat porn, the kind that you couldn't un-see, putting it in every Minds group that the troll could contact. At first, people ignored him. He clogged up groups so much however that no one could discuss anything, plastering scat porn especially in Help and Support, where new people were sure to see it and conclude that this poop-obsessed idiot was what Minds meant by "no censorship".  The Minds developers were at first trying to give him fair warning, then got locked in a serious philosophical conversation with anyone on Minds who was interested enough to be contacting them about it.

The developers seemed to be seeking consensus without drawing attention because trolls and malicious spammers feed on attention.  A few users thought that the spammer was a kid who, after a decade in a cramped smelly closet with Cheetos and his computer, had discovered testosterone and didn't know what else to do with it. Even as he created innumerable channels of attack, this contingent thought that we should just befriend the poor dear.  

Like someone blasting sheer noise at highest volume, the spammer(s) was (were) however blocking others' right to free speech --- and that's all that he/they intended to do. 

Some Minds users still argued that free speech was an absolute, not to be violated even under this level of provocation, accusing Minds developers of betraying their trust even to consider stopping the spammer. On the other hand, Minds small-group administrators, spending hours scrubbing the scat out of channels and reassuring new people, for their part increasingly demanded decisive developer intervention. People all over Minds were soon contacting the developers on Support, asking for digital tools and/or offering to help in the hunt. As to the Ottmans and Mark Harding and those working closest to them, I'm not privy to their thoughts, but there's a point when you have to defend what you've built. 

Suddenly blam! Minds -- with outside help and acting within an increasingly alert community -- was on the offensive against that level of the offensive. Scat spammer begone. Should a similar situation arise, there will be no hesitation; what formed in that pause on very young Minds was policy. 

All those who got involved learned more about the responsibilities, choices and strengths of that most precious, complex and conflicted of human rights, freedom of speech. 

That's Minds: a dream, a movement, an adventure, a business, a crew, a game, an experiment, a home, a vessel where you can laugh, talk, learn and help sail into a freer, safer future. 
You're in time to help shape Minds. Remember too that its computer code is free and open source, and a present from Minds to the world. What the Minds developers envision is a worldwide network of open source nodes. So you can improve on the code, copy it, build on it; they'll help you. Minds is the first and the flagship of a fleet heading for liberty....

Super glad you're on board....


I've written other articles about life on Minds which may be of use to you:

Your Special Powers On Minds Over Internet Trolls

Where To Ask Questions, Make Suggestions -- and Get Answers -- On Minds

Dragon's Interactive Treasure Trove of Resources for Learning and Using Minds.com 

Hey New People On Minds! How To Get Likes, Comments and Suggestions! 

If you're interested in the history of Minds, in the context of Artificial Intelligence, global corporate takeover nations and the blockchain revolution, I'm also writing a history of that adventure in progress: So far:

I.       Bill Ottman's Minds.com, Leading the Charge Against the Globals  

II.      The Minds Who Power Minds 

III-A.  Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge Analytica's Psyops AI Campaign, Banned Alts and Bill

III-B.  The Nuts and Bolts of Free Speech 

IV-     Minds Enters the Cryptocosm in the Summer and Fall of WTF?

V.-     Minds Confronts the Shadow Tyranny and Declares Independence.