One Cause At a Time – Archive

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Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Documentary: THE SOCIAL DILEMMA and Social Media

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Social media has been the focus of criticism in recent years. Following our review of Social Warming, we’re presenting a recent documentary about the hazards of social media. Although making its premiere on Netflix, The Social Dilemma is now available for viewing on YouTube. Catch the embed below.

(If you see only code, you can find it via direct YouTube link. It’s also a must-watch, especially for social media professionals).

As always, you’re welcome to join the conversation on our Facebook page or contact us via email.

And thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

September 16, 2021 at 8:14 am

Book Review: SOCIAL WARMING and the Effects of Social Media

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[DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided for review purposes. All links are non-affiliate links, and all opinions are my own]

Over the past five years, social media usage has shifted away from communications and marketing and into darker areas. Two years ago, P.W. Singer’s Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media outlined how social media has been used to drive dissension and division. However, Charles Arthur outlines how social media networks have facilitated this process in Social Warming: The Dangerous and Polarizing Effects of Social Media from Oneworld Publications.

In his book, Charles Arthur describes “social warming” as a gradual process that occurs over time and usually happens (in his words)

“…when interactions between people who used to be geographically separated and infrequently exposed to each other’s views are more frequently brought together, and kept in orbit around topics that will engage them and create addictive experiences”

Social Warming, p 4.

With social networks becoming increasingly accessible (and mobile devices/smartphones becoming more available), there are greater opportunities for network algorithms to amplify “engaging” posts. This amplification of posts encourages users to log in more frequently and for longer periods of time. Since this process is unregulated and unrestricted, users become gradually more accepting – and less critical – of social media content.

Throughout Social Warming, Charles Arthur highlights key examples of how unchecked social media activity has adversely influenced social media user behavior. For example, he sites social media’s over-reliance on algorithms to promote “engaging” content without context as a factor in swaying political and social thought. Arthur also notes how “scissor statements” (things said to deliberately spike controversy and division) have often driven further dissension. Social Warming also highlights how a lack of foresight and critical thinking on the part of social media networks drove a wide variety of political and social upheavals, with one chapter dedicated to issues around COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theory.

Although making similar arguments to the previously mentioned Likewar, Charles Arthur focuses on how the leadership and procedures within social media networks have frequently abdicated responsibility through relying heavily on algorithms, developing a laissez-faire attitude towards monitoring, and focusing exclusively on user growth. Arthur makes various concrete, practical recommendations for social media network leadership towards the end of Social Warming.

Like many other people, I saw social media as a unique way of connecting people across communities. As a professional, I worked to help smaller organizations and nonprofits (as well as larger brands) use social media in a healthy, ethical way. Although it is easy to make social media the ultimate cause of dissension and division, Charles Arthur’s Social Warming: The Dangerous and Polarizing Effects of Social Media makes a very strong case for that belief.

And thankfully, provides some solutions. Highly Recommended.

Please feel free to continue the conversation on our Facebook page, or leave a comment below.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

September 7, 2021 at 8:08 pm

Surviving the Metra Lollapalooza COVID Express

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Lollapalooza officially ends today, and I am personally grateful for a variety of reasons. After all, I was around when Lollapalooza started as a touring show that was merely corporate-sponsored pandering led by a spoiled, entitled musician whose then-latest hit served as a paean to shoplifting. However, coming home from a friend’s showing at the Fulton Street Collective meant taking the Metra Rock Island line home…and dealing with a throng of young Lollapalooza attendees who were…

Well, I live tweeted it, and here’s a timeline for your reading pleasure. And yes, you can offer thoughts and prayers as I express what happened without sounding ageist or entitled.

Saturday, 9:15 pm – I arrive at the Metra LaSalle Street station. The waiting area is filled with mostly adults. It’s quiet, and the 10:00 pm train appears to be on time. Sitting down, I relax and look forward to a relatively peaceful ride home.

Saturday, 9:30 pm – Heading outside, I enjoy the cooler air of a summer evening in Chicago. Nothing seems to be going wrong except for a possible delay in the train’s arrival.

Saturday, 9:40 pm – The first of the Lollapalooza crowd begins showing up, and soon they’re dominating the platform. As you can see by the photos above, none of them are wearing masks. Within fifteen minutes, I decide to double-mask for my own safety.

Saturday, 10:04 pmAs two trains finally arrive, Metra employees encourage a single line to check passes before boarding the train. Lollapalooza attendees force their way through, ignoring directions and waving cell phones in people’s faces. As I board the car, I sit in one of the front most seats.

Four minutes later, I perform a rough headcount: the car contains approximately 30 people, only six (including myself) are over 35. Only four people (including myself) are wearing masks. As public transportation, Metra falls under the federal mask mandate.

Saturday, 10:11 pm – I’m reminded of the irony of attending Raks Inferno on Friday night: the troupe (and home venue Newport Theater) held a limited capacity, vax-only show that turned away two people. Afterwards, on the way home, a throng of Lollapalooza-based motorcyclists defied traffic laws and performed wheelies only seen in high-end action movies. (And which never end well)

I say this because I tweeted that Mayor Lightfoot should have canceled Lollapalooza. After all, reentry should have been more cautious, and businesses should not take precedence over public health…but I digress.

(Yes, my Tweeting takes on a slightly sarcastic tone, but it was my way of documenting what was happening, as well as allowing myself some self-soothing. But I felt it worth discussing in light of current COVID-19 trends in Chicago and the state of Illinois)

Saturday, 10:16 pmTwo Metra employees enter our car and announce that if anyone is getting off at a stop in Beverly (my home neighborhood since I became Mom’s caregiver), we need to move “two cars up”. Ten of us rise and walk through two cars. We ask if it’s the Beverly car…and we’re told it’s the next car up.

Barnard Park, Chicago
Barnard Park – Photo by Gordon Dymowski

We moved through five Metra cars (almost the entire length of the train) in order for the doors to open for us to get off. Although the number of people in each car dwindled, many of them were from Lollapalooza and did not wear masks. None of the Lollapalooza crowd looked sober, and one drunkenly told me I was “fired” and offered a fist bump. I refused. We eventually made it to the front car, and sitting down, simply waited for my stop.

Saturday, 10:29 pmAs the Metra train began its end run towards home, I felt concerned about that evening’s sleep and ruminated on my past. In my past career in social services, I’ve worked in a variety of rough situations (including a St. Louis-area office in the basement of an infamous housing development). I never felt as uncomfortable (or threatened with illness) as I did on that train ride.

Saturday, 10:37 pmAs my train gets closer to my home station, I realize that I smell something a bit…odd, and look at the seats in front of me. Three young women are talking, and one of them is vaping. (I am unsure if this is allowed on Metra trains, but say nothing).

At the stop before mine, two of the women depart the train. The last one – the woman who was vaping – looks at me and says blankly, “I’m lonely.” I keep silent and get up as we approach my stop.

Saturday 11:00 pmAfter successfully disembarking from the train and arriving home, I chose to update Twitter with a note of gratitude. The next morning, I managed to provide a follow-up Tweet. All was relatively well.

Although this essay may seem rather over-the-top, there have been genuine concerns about Lollapalooza becoming a superspreader event like a recent festival in the Netherlands. With COVID rates increasing in the city, the Mayor’s press for further vaccinations is a smart move…but holding Lollapalooza was ill-advised. Metra shares part of the responsibility for not rigorously enforcing the rules…

But holding Lollapalooza in the first place was a bad move. In not canceling the show, Mayor Lightfoot demonstrated a greater concern for corporate and business interests than the welfare of the city. She’s scheduled to provide a COVID update on Monday at 10:00 am at City Hall. Don’t be surprised if the evades questions about why she let Lollapalooza go on.

The answer’s obvious.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Written by gordondym

August 1, 2021 at 8:48 pm

Five Lessons I Learned Finding Remote Work

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Recently, I experience a major change in my COVID-19/caregiving lifestyle: I was hired for remote work. Job seeking during the pandemic has been challenging, but the transition back into remote working has been much easier than I would expect. My experience freelancing and caregiving helped me develop my skills, but my transition into remote work helped me learn five key lessons:

  1. LinkedIn is A Very Powerful Professional Development Tool – Although many people use LinkedIn as a professional networking tool, it has also been a great tool for professional development. By researching companies and organizations, pursuing leads (which led me to my current situation), and catching up on professional news helped me stay current. In talking with other writers on Facebook (I am also a New Pulp author, many of my colleagues wondered why they were still on LinkedIn. I believe that any social media channel works as long as you regularly engage. LinkedIn has always been a powerful tool for me, even now while I’m homebound. Speaking of networking…
  2. Networking And Professional Development Still Matters – Much of my time spent in lockdown was not only spend caring for my mother but also networking via a variety of channels. Thanks to Eventbrite’s search, I found many networking events and training via Zoom. Engaging with my peers via Twitter and Facebook helped me stay connected. Taking advantage of free classes and training from organizations like Free Code Camp and General Assembly, provided new skill sets to bring to the table.
  3. Doing Small-Scale Work to Keep Your Skills Sharp Is Not a Bad Thing: During the lockdown, even though this blog was minimal except for the occasional story (like this recent post about, I managed to find some small-scale, low-paying digital research/remote work positions. Sites like and We Work Remotely were invaluable in providing some great leads. (It also helped that I had worked as a contractor with Cultivate Now, who consults around remote work issues. However, some remote work situations aren’t that positive, and my next lesson was…
  4. Know When To Leave A Situation That Doesn’t Work For You – Perfect example: I had been hired by a company that was looking for “academic writers”. Given my background, I thought it meant either proofing academic papers or research journal articles. Their payment scheme was unusual (you had to wait a period after completing a piece), but I thought it would be fine. It turned out…I was doing other people’s homework. People would submit money to this site and have people write their papers, do other homework assignments, etc. After working for a few weeks and having my pay withheld because my work didn’t mean their standards (although it meant the clients), I realized there was no way to win…but I had some payback with both a strongly worded Glassdoor review and better-paying work from reputable companies from that point forward. And finally…
  5. Taking Small Steps Lead to Big Rewards – During my time of inactivity, I made the effort to engage in small, positive changes getting new business cards, renewing domains, turning over some small scale volunteer efforts. Although I don’t think there is a one-to-one-correlation, taking care of smaller, less important tasks allowed me to prepare mentally for remote work. Feeling ready in the short term helped me feel more confident. That confidence helped me through several job interviews which led to my current work situation

Finding any work in current times is challenging; finding and starting new work is an exceptional accomplishment. I refuse to take my new situation for granted, but with more employers relying on remote work and remote workers, I think I managed to hit the curve at the right time.

Thanks for reading! Please leave any comments below or join us on Facebook.

Written by gordondym

June 17, 2020 at 8:55 am

An Open Letter to

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We need to have a serious talk.

Many people, professional organizations, nonprofits, and other social endeavors rely on your service for a basic community-building tool that provides event planning, RSVP, member contact, and other services for a small price. (I should know – I use meetup to organize groups around caregiving, coworking, and Doctor Who). You’re recovering from a recent service outage on your site, and although your acquisition by WeWork has led to further growth…you’ve also had some hiccups. (Like, in retrospect, adopting “Resist” groups as part of your philosophy.) But in short… has way too many faults and issues, making it very hard on organizers to use your service. And worse, you rarely listen to Meetup organizers when they provide feedback, choosing to charge ahead rather than allow Meetup to become a truly effective community-building tool.

For example, customer service – when I received an e-mail from “Katie at Meetup” about a billing problem, I e-mailed her back with some information as well as my follow-up. Suffice it to say, I received an autoresponse that suggested articles that might “help” me solve my problem. After reaching out via Twitter, I was fortunate to get another employee to respond – an actual flesh and blood person. (Although I have to say that although your Twitter outreach is excellent, you might want to rethink how Meetup engages on Facebook. Too few posts and too many complaints about site functionality.

An example of Meetup's customer engagement

An example of Meetup’s customer engagement

And speaking of site functionality and user experience – several years ago, you asked a few Meetup organizers (including myself) to beta test a new format for the site. We did, and we gave you honest feedback: we hated it. But you went ahead and implemented it, and the site is a mix of high-end “kewl” graphics that make it difficult for us to promote our events…and back end graphic interfaces that were out of date in the late 1990s. Even now, Meetup’s web site seems built more for people to find “last minute” events (which make planning difficult) rather than build and engage a community. (Speaking from experience, two-thirds of my two largest Meetup groups have not attended a Meetup in the last two years, and purging them is a long, arduous process).

Although Meetup has some basic social media functionality (such as posting to Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin), the ability to generate a Facebook Event page from a Meetup event would be especially beneficial in driving traffic and membership to our Meetup site. After all, Eventbrite allows that, and they’re free (with limitations). Sure, I could create an Eventbrite page for a Meetup event and then generate a Facebook Event…but if I’m attempting to drive traffic to a Meetup group, wouldn’t it make more sense to streamline the process? And Meetup will sometimes send e-mails about upcoming events to members while organizers send similar e-mails; wouldn’t it be wiser to give organizers a reason to further invest in Meetup? (People can join and use Meetup for free, and with your pricing system based on the number of members…well, we can’t easily purge absent members, and so we’re stuck paying for members who do not engage our community yet are unable or unwilling to leave).


That’s part of the problem that many organizers (including myself) see with – you ask organizers (who pay to use the service) for feedback, and then ignore our feedback. As paying users of Meetup, that behavior demonstrates poor customer service as well as a short-sighted approach to online and offline community building. Especially given the fact that Meetup “owns” a group’s data – after all, trying to funnel an entire community through one platform should mean a greater willingness to empower organizers and users to engage more effectively.

I can see the counter-argument from some who are reading this open letter: “But Gordon, if Meetup is so ineffective and you’re not reaching all of your members, why not switch?”. Ironically, Meetup’s philosophy of aggressively recruiting new members without any further incentive results in a passive audience who believes themselves to be reliant on the service. (I have asked my Meetup members about options; few are willing to switch over entirely). Besides, the point of investing in Meetup for many organizations is that the site alleviates and streamlines the work of online and offline community building…and with the service focusing more on entrepreneurship and community building as a business rather than a social function, Meetup is slowly becoming a relic. Soon, Meetup will be joining services like Friendster, MySpace, Prodigy and Compuserve as electronic communities that quickly became outdated and obsolete without acknowledging the needs of modern users.

I don’t expect you to do anything, Meetup, and that’s the sad thing…there’s no vision, no discernable leadership, no other mission other than growth. For organizers like myself, the possibility of switching to another service is difficult but possible. But for those individuals who are seeking support, small organizations looking to build advocates, and nonprofit organizations looking to mobilize…your apathy and nonresponsiveness are particularly telling. And once you leave, they will be stuck.

Thanks for listening,
Gordon Dymowski
Chicago Now’s One Cause At a Time

Written by gordondym

June 5, 2019 at 8:46 am

Mission Driven Culture: A Conversation With Teddy Heidt of Gauge Collective

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(Special thanks to Teddy Heidt of the Gauge Collective for his time and insight) 

Chicago has a healthy, thriving community of mission-driven businesses working to drive profit as well as social impact. Mission-driven businesses operate from a key set of values, focus on benefiting stakeholders as well as stockholders, and work on driving community collaboration. My recent conversation with Teddy Heidt, founder of the Gauge Collective, provides insight into how a mission-driven business integrates its values into every aspect of its culture.

The Gauge Collective was founded by Teddy Heidt, a brand digital marketing specialist who specializes in building, strengthening, and implementing digital strategies. As a freelancer, Heidt discovered that many social media agencies hired to help brands often provided work product with low quality and little insight into the essence of the brand. Inspired to take positive action, Teddy Heidt founded the Gauge Collective, a community of collaboration-minded social, digital, and creative freelancers, which assists a wide variety of organizations (from start-ups to larger businesses) in crafting and executing efficient and effective social media outreach strategies. Their onboarding process allows the Gauge Collective to immerse themselves into how a brand “ticks”, providing ample opportunities to foster a sense of collaboration as well as provide a brand-specific outreach strategy.


The Gauge Collective takes an “anti-agency” approach to social media and digital marketing: under Teddy Heidt’s leadership, the Collective supports a group of freelancers from a wide variety of fields (including social media, graphic design, email marketing, and videography). One of the key values that Teddy Hedit has integrated into the working philosophy of the Gauge Collective is diversity: not only does the Gauge Collective desire to support freelancers from marginalized communities, but Teddy Heidt was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable LGTBQ Executives. As Heidt pointed out in our conversation, the Gauge Collective actively seeks and collaborates with brands and a small, community-based group of influencers who are “uniquely themselves” to provide thorough strategies that lead to specific results.

The Gauge Collective’s mission-driven impulse towards collaboration and community also extends into their desire to work with nonprofits, other mission-driven businesses, and socially conscious brands. With their immersive onboarding process and ability to provide smaller scale yet more effective services, the Gauge Collective wishes to provide services for nonprofits and other mission-driven businesses who may be unable to hire larger agencies. It speaks to Teddy Heidt’s vision of the Gauge Collective that they can contemplate growth in both their client base and in engaging the greater freelancer population. With a mission-driven impulse towards collaboration and community, the Gauge Collective under Teddy Heidt’s leadership provides a great example for other businesses – and even some digital agencies – to emulate.

If you would like to ask a question or leave a comment, please leave them in the space below. We also invite you to follow and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Book Review: LIKEWAR – The Weaponization of Social Media

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Once upon a time, social media was seen as an online ‘town square’ enabling a diverse array of opinions. Soon, it became a way for marginalized individuals and groups to have their voices heard. Now, in the age of Trump, ISIS, and “Russian bots”, social media has become a weapon for sowing dissension and division. If you’re seeking a thorough examination of how this happened, Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking is an indispensable guide for learning how this happened and provides great historical insight into the forces that shape our current online landscape.

If you’re looking for a breezy, easy-to-understand guide to social media and online warfare, Likewar is not that book. Singer and Brooking provide a dense, thorough examination of how social media and online communication have morphed into an abstract battlefield. Starting with Trump’s first Tweet in 2009, Likewar provides a great overview of how many entities have adopted the principles of digital marketing and social media engagement (like controlling the narrative) to engage users.

But more damning is the central idea that many social media algorithms, with their emphasis on “likes”, provide an opportunity to make false information “viral”, allowing it to remain within a conversation and create an ideological echo chamber for the user. One of the points that Singer and Brookings make in their book is that these strategies are not created by hackers experienced in technology…but people with marketing strategy and insight into online engagement. Think of it as the dark side of “clickbait” and “viral memes” – online information designed not just to engage, but to sow dissension amongst users.

Individuals and groups are using these techniques to enable others to fight in a new kind of social media-based warfare, and Likewar provides a field guide to how these conflicts are waged.

In light of the recent federal shutdown, Likewar provides not only a strong historical context but an almost uncanny prescience. We are already seeing some of these tactics used by the right around the Covington Catholic incident. Consider online conversations about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) comments about algorithms despite some research backing her claims. With the Department of Homeland Security issuing a directive in response to DNS attacks, we are seeing a rise in Internet-based strategy and warfare. Knowing the changing landscape can help many individuals and organizations adopt and prepare…

Consider Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media your must-read book of 2019. Informative, insightful, yet also cautionary.

Please feel free to leave comments below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you wish to contact me privately, please reach out via this contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

January 24, 2019 at 11:03 am

Meet Your Neighbor: Silvana Favaretto of the Tulle Project

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(Special thanks to Silvana Favaretto for her time and insights)

Part of this blog’s purpose is to highlight Chicago-area “mission-driven businesses” like nonprofits or social enterprise. However, the whole notion of a “mission-driven business” seems…abstract. Every business has a mission: to make a profit. However, what distinguishes a truly “mission-driven business” is a move from a single person to a movement…and my recent conversation with Silvana Favaretto of The Tulle Project demonstrates how one person’s personal development can lead to the growth of a community.

I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Silvana Favaretto as she shared her story, as well as provided background into The Tulle Project.

Imagine one day, you find yourself with the “perfect” life, but you realize you’re bored and feel that you lack a sense of purpose. Silvana Favaretto found herself in that place, and she was aware of the limiting messages that people were telling her. Although she was working on self-reflection and self-development, she realized that she needed to establish her own priorities and focus less on following rules and more on just being present. She knew she was on a unique journey, and she wanted to focus on where that journey would take her. silvana-favaretto-tribune-shot

Remembering the casual freedom and initiative of her childhood, Silvana Favaretto engaged in a unique 100-day experiment: she decided to wear skirts made out of tulle, a fine fabric that resembles netting. Journaling and documenting her experience via social media (like Instagram and Facebook), Silvana found that more women were recognizing aspects of her own self-evolution and began following her journey. As the 100-day project came to a close, she found herself feeling more grounded, more honest, and more centered than she had before…

…and as a result, she founded the Tulle Project. As the website describes it:

The Tulle Project is a movement, a tribe, and a space for females everywhere to express their strength, vulnerability, femininity, and whatever they want! The Tulle Project has taken beautiful, sophisticated skirts and transformed them into a symbol of feminine strength—charging women to express themselves, take ownership of their stories and create the life they’ve always wanted.

Engaging women via social media, events, photo shoots, and other means, The Tulle Project actively works to empower women to develop their own strength. (And yes, The Tulle Project also has a great selection of skirts as well). But in many ways, The Tulle Project is a great example of a mission-driven business.

In speaking with Silvana Favaretto, it was apparent that The Tulle Project’s mission was inherent within its company operations. Empowering women was not an aspect simply added to a current business; Silvana’s journey provided greater emotional resonance to The Tulle Project’s mission. It also became apparent that The Tulle Project’s mission focused on values like honesty, authenticity, and empathy rather than focusing on hitting trends. At a time when women’s issues have greater focus, The Tulle Project’s activities allow women to take ownership of the project, investing as much in themselves as they do in the Project. Although the focus may be on fun and fashion, The Tulle Project provides a safe haven for women to provide each other support, guidance, and understanding on a deeper level.

(Yes, there are other organizations that follow a similar mission, yet The Tulle Project is driven by the unique experience of Silvana Favaretto. In short, it is because of her journey that their mission of female empowerment permeates throughout The Tulle Project’s activities. Goodwill, collaboration, and connection are three of the values that The Tulle Project promotes, even if it falls under the guise of distinctive outerwear).

So what’s next for Silvana Favaretto and The Tulle Project? An upcoming “100 Days of Bold” in which women will be encouraged to explore what it means to be “bold”. Although the current tenor of female empowerment is focused on a different set of issues, the 100 Days of Bold may serve as a necessary conversation for a select group of women. Developing assertiveness, self-reliance, self-esteem and a strong support network are challenging for a woman in isolation; in some ways, The Tulle Project has become a key (if very distinctive) ally in the fight.

And they’re a great neighbor to get to know.

Please feel free to leave your comments below. Please join our conversation via Facebook, and contact me directly if you have questions or wish to have your organization featured on our blog.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

October 8, 2018 at 11:49 am

Facebook, Free Speech, and Social Media

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After posting my interview with Dawn Xiana Moon about the Raks Inferno fundraiser on August 2nd, I did what many of my fellow Chicago Now bloggers do in these situations: post a link to this blog’s Facebook page. As a blogger, I feel a responsibility to highlight great nonprofit and community-based initiatives, so featuring this fundraiser was an extremely easy decision for me to make.

The next morning, I checked Facebook and found a post from Dawn on her page. She had mentioned that when she attempted to promote the Raks Inferno: Immigration Protest Edition Facebook event, they turned her down due to “political content.” In a further comment, Dawn indicated that they requested information including her social security number, a copy of her driver’s license, and a working knowledge of classic Doctor Who production codes.

Yes, that was a joke…but what comes next isn’t so funny.

In talking with my fellow Chicago Now bloggers, I learned that Jessica Gardner of Little Merry Sunshine also was denied the opportunity to promote a post on Facebook for “political content”. However, the focus of Jessica’s post isn’t on politics, but on a very painful, personal experience she had…which became reflected in a then-current political situation.


(Please read Jessica’s post – it’s extremely moving and I wish I had read it earlier. It deserves to be selected as one of Chicago Now‘s Best Posts of June 2018).

So I decided to try to boost two Facebook posts which included my interview with Dawn: one from this blog’s Facebook page, and another through my Patreon page. I thought, “Hey, what could go wrong?” Result – both were shot down due to “political content.” And I was asked to not only set up two-step verification (which makes sense for security reasons) but was also asked for a ton of personal information.

Ironically, this comes after Mark Zuckerberg had to walk back comments about Holocaust deniers, and before Facebook declared InfoWars comments about Robert Mueller fell “within their guidelines”. (Facebook later pulled four InfoWars videos for violating community standards). It may be due to a glitch in Facebook’s algorithm, but this feels too deliberate and selective to be totally random. So let’s put this in perspective:

Three private individuals were denied the opportunity to pay to promote their content on Facebook: one was promoting a fundraiser, another a very personal essay, and I was promoting an interview.

However, Facebook has supported causes and initiatives that were extremely political in content.facebook-logo_0

To be honest, Facebook has spent the past few years dealing with deeper concerns around social media and political interference. Most recently, Facebook’s recent scandals resulted in its stock declining by 19%, and there’s a general distrust of Facebook due to its policies.

But free speech in social media is becoming an increasingly complicated issue. As someone who has been Twitter blocked by a formerly famous cartoonist, and who has called out a comedian for racist statements on Twitter, I understand that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence or controversy. But paid social media becomes trickier, especially with nonprofits and other community organization relying more on paid Facebook promotions to get their content seen…this feels arbitrary and selective.


And it’s wrong. Yes, I understand that freedom of speech does not ensure freedom from controversy nor consequence. I have received comments for criticizing Roseanne Barr’s racist Tweets and was blocked by a former cartoonist-turned-pundit for conflating his irrelevance with my irreverence (or words to that effect). But Facebook and other social media channels (notably Twitter) are adopting a “both sides are equal” philosophy in their community guidelines but are inconsistent in enforcing those guidelines. At a time when there are organized efforts by right-wing members to harass women, people of color, other marginalized communities, and political opponents of the current administration via social media (hashtags that end with “-gate” come to mind), taking a stand in favor of diverse voices – rather than “walking away” from those voices – diminishes the power of social media bullying.

Truth is…Dawn Xiana Moon has every right to pay for promoting Raks Inferno: Immigration Protest Edition on Facebook to raise funds for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Her voice deserves to be heard.

Truth is also…Jessica Gardner has every right to pay to promote her Facebook posts for Little Merry Sunshine. She’s an incredible blogger, and like many of her fellow Chicago Now bloggers, I’m proud of her work.

Facebook is denying them – and others – a chance to shine. Sadly, that denial is costing Facebook…and free speech.

(Please feel free to leave comments below or via our Facebook page – please note that comments will be moderated) 

How Do You Get Scott Adams To Block You On Twitter?

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Yesterday, I learned the answer to the question, “How do you get Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, to block you on Twitter?”

It wasn’t an answer I was actively seeking but resulted from Scott Adams explaining the proper use of “pour” and “pore” when discussing documents. (This was in reaction to the President’s recent Tweet). I simply made the observation that Scott Adams had not been relevant since the 1990s. I held back from adding “especially since Office Space did it much better).

Now, I probably should have thought better of trolling Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. After all, he believes that Donald Trump was a “Wizard” of persuasion. He claimed that men were inclined to rape women, and once pretended to be his own fan in an online forum. Last week, Scott Adams told Forbes that he believed that “goals are for losers.” So I probably should have been careful to engage him in an intellectual debate, rather than trolling him – after all, civility is paramount in our national conversation. Scott Adams deserved that much.

After deleting the Tweet that started this ruckus, Scott Adams declared that I was “conflating my ignorance with his relevance” and blocked me. Almost on cue, a wide variety of individuals defended Scott Adams’ honor by impugning my character. Of course, many of these individuals would be likely to complain about the lack of “civility” in social media. Their comments included

• Being called “made of soy” by a woman;
• Having “more neck than chin”
• Several slams about me not being “relevant”;
• Criticism of my writing style thanks to a Google search; and
• Being “butthurt” over getting “rekt by the Dilbert guy”

(I’ve chosen, after some consultation, to redact their names and Twitter accounts, but not their photos. Several of them have either generic Twitter icons or misleading photos. Plus, they don’t deserve total anonymity – I stand behind my Twitter avatar; they can stand or fall behind theirs. )

Now, it would have been easy for me to defend myself, to discuss caring for my mother, or even delivering a torrent of counter-insults…but it wouldn’t be civil. So I blocked them.

Civility in any conversation – whether personal or through social media – means that there is a certain level of accountability. Accountability suggests an understanding of the “rules” of conduct, and many on the right believe that they are beyond those rules. Confronted by an angry majority about the decline in our society, it is much easier for that vocal minority to assault or harass their opposition. They hide behind the First Amendment not realizing that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from controversy or freedom of consequence. I took my hit for stating what I believe; they deserve the same respect (or in this case, “contempt”).

(And this has happened before – after writing a post criticizing a PR firm’s selling Twitter followers as a “false tactic”, they created a series of Twitter bots and flooded my stream with Tweets. In addition, actress Kelly Marie Tran and Christopher McQuarrie have been driven off of social media due to organized harassment. Because many Star Wars and Scott Adams fans are touchy when it comes to what they enjoy. And they’ll do anything they can to push you off of “their” channel.)

Unfortunately, Scott Adams of Dilbert is engaging in behavior reminiscent of Roseanne Barr a few weeks ago: make an outrageous statement, refuse to take responsibility, and double down. Although I could have been a bit more clever, I won’t apologize for my behavior. Twitter is a public forum. Scott Adams behaved inappropriately towards a user. His tasteful follow-up to blocking me: posting a cartoon and suggesting that I was claiming to have “owned him”

(Considering our country’s history as well as an alleged incident involving a student and a gay teacher at my old high school, I don’t think that I have any right to use the word “own” in that context. Plus, like Scott Adams, I am a white male. I know better. I would never stoop to suggesting that this blog post is Tweeted directly to him with the hashtag #betterbutthurtthanbrownshirt…but then again, what do I know? I didn’t create Dilbert).

But the story ends with two Facebook conversations – not this blog’s Facebook page, mind you, conversations with friends. Conversations that provided a sorely needed sense of perspective and humor.

One was a long-time colleague who asked, “LOL, who is Scott Adams?” After gently “mansplaining” Scott Adams’ career as the creator of Dilbert, her response was, “I stopped reading Dilbert years ago – is he still around?”

But the second conversation was with a friend who, without prompting, answered the question I posed at the beginning of this post.

“How do you get Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, to block you on Twitter? Be a decent human.”

(Please feel free to comment below or via Facebook, and note that comments are moderated)

Written by gordondym

July 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm