Donald Trump has plenty of ways to speak to the world. You might not. That needs to change.
YouTube has become the latest tech company to permanently ban, or “cancel” President Trump. His YouTube channel, and his ability to upload videos, have been blocked by YouTube.
A few key takeaways here. First of all, let’s consider the entire premise of “social media”, and our reliance on it.
It may surprise some people to learn that social media as we know it today was virtually nonexistent on the Internet prior to the 2005~2006 period. Over the space of a few short years, YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), and Facebook (2006) sprung up like kudzu on the Internet. They convinced us that they were essential for online expression.
These sites were never essential for online expression, though.
Before social media existed, the Internet was filled with sound, video, and text-based content. How?
Individuals had websites. I created my first website in 2002, using Microsoft FrontPage and a $9.95 per month hosting plan. Businesses had websites, too.
The same is true today. You aren’t reading these words on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, are you? You’re reading them on my personal website. Neither Mark Zuckerberg, nor Jack Dorsey, nor any of their employees have any say in what is written here.
Donald Trump also has his own personal website (belonging to his business group). He could host a video there within a few hours. This would not be difficult, either technically or logistically.
Nor would this mean any shortage of exposure. Word of the video’s appearance and location would quickly spread. No YouTube required.
A social media site, when you get right down to it, is just one more website out of gazillions. That’s all YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are. Three more websites.
Donald Trump has other options.
But Donald Trump is the President of the United States, at least for another week. You aren’t. Maybe you don’t have a ready means of online expression, beyond social media…or you’ve been conditioned to believe that you don’t.
Individuals and corporations can still start websites of their own. (Again, that’s what Edward Trimnell Books is: an individual website.) But for roughly the past 15 years, we’ve gradually been conditioned to believe that social media is the default place (and the only place) where people should broadcast their thoughts to the world.
Never mind that organic reach on all these platforms has sharply diminished. On Facebook (to cite one example) most people and most companies have to purchase ads in order to reach many people nowadays. Spontaneously “viral” social media content is increasingly rare.
Breaking our conditioned reliance on social media is a larger topic. The fact is: many people are reliant on it. That brings us to this new world we’ll soon be living in (after Inauguration Day) and our new masters in Washington DC and Silicon Valley.
There were many reasons why I disapproved of last Wednesday’s action at the US Capitol. First of all, it resulted in unnecessary loss of life. But at a more strategic level, it was doomed from the outset to failure.
Let’s be clear: The January 6 incursion of the US Capitol was a very expensive, very destructive example of “pissing in the wind”.
But it was even worse than that. The left has now been given a new narrative: that America is under imminent attack from an organized, rightwing (and, oh yeah, “white supremacist”) conspiracy that is bent on establishing the Fourth Reich right here in America.
Never mind that the “conspiracy” was best typified by the shirtless guy in the buffalo hat, and the frumpy fellow who posed with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Those two couldn’t plot a sustained takeover of a Dairy Queen in rural Ohio, much less the takeover of the US government.
But the tech masters and the new Democratic Party leadership now have a pretext. A pretext is all they needed. They can now use last Wednesday’s Capitol Hill incursion as an excuse to ban any idea, personality, or content that they do not like.
And they’ll do this under the banner of “preventing potential violence”, or “saving America from the far right”.
Freedom of speech will be under sustained assault for the immediate future. Social media, as a platform for any political expression outside the leftwing/progressive orthodoxy, is dead. This new reality will require new strategies and new tactics.
First and foremost, conservatives, moderates, and freedom-loving people everywhere will need to build their own platforms—both at the small scale, and at the larger scale. The default methods of vlogging one’s views on YouTube, of tweeting, no longer function—not even for the President of the United States.
Former marine Lee McCabe is on the run from the law, mafia hitmen, and rural meth dealers. A gun-blazing chase through the badlands of Kentucky.