One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Posts Tagged ‘social media

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

Election Day Isn’t The End of It

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If you’re like me, you’ve already opted for mail-in or early voting rather than head into the lines of Election Day. We all know the stakes: we’re living in the midst of a pandemic with our government slowly, but surely, descending into fascism. It’s easy to believe that once November 3rd passes, Election Day will be the transition to better, more optimistic times.

But it’s not the case. Actually, November 4th is when the work really begins.

We’ve seen this administration dismantle the post office while laying the seeds for a potential “voter fraud” scenario. Municipalities in other states have limited drop boxes for ballots. We’ve seen this administration push through candidates who were barely qualified in order to “rubber stamp” any decisions. As Election Day results are being counted, the administration and its supporters will push for a definite “result” despite federal regulations outlining the procedure.

That’s when the fight really begins.

Over the past four years, our nation has experienced the aftereffects of this administration’s policy. Separating children from their families at the border and putting them in cages as an immigration strategy.  Over nine million cases of COVID-19 and 232,000 deaths at the time of this blog post. Threats to end health care for millions in this country. This is an administration that will not go gentle into that good night…and voters will need to act after Election Day.

This isn’t 2017 when wearing a “pussy hat” or attending a rally is “just enough”. It means contacting legislators and maintaining pressure. It means truly believing that democracy is not a spectator sport, but that we need to coalesce as a community to push back. After all, very little has changed in this federal administration’s approach since this John Oliver piece in 2017:

There are those who believe in voting for a third-party candidate because “both sides” are somehow flawed. You know, the “hipper-than-thou” attitude that makes everyone else part of the problem and that misquotes George Carlin’s attitude on voting. There’s only one response I can give to those individuals:

Suck it up, buttercup. 

This is no longer a case of “lesser-of-two-evils”; it’s a case of one halfway decent individual versus corruption incarnate. You may disagree or try to pull the “both sides” argument, but voting makes a difference. (It’s the reason why, in Illinois, Bruce Rauner was a one-term governor who’s now living in luxury in Florida). It means not just selecting new representational leadership, but holding them accountable. 

(And by “holding accountable”, I don’t mean just “trolling them on Twitter”. It means ensuring that they execute the will of the people voting for them).

So after Election Day is over, when the election judges have returned home after a long, hard day’s work…take a deep breath. Relax. Get a good night’s sleep, if you can. But don’t forget that we still need to keep contacting our representatives, keep putting pressure on leaders at every level of government. It’s not easy. It’s not simple. But our democracy is worth it.

It also means treating our neighbors and colleagues with consideration. I will end this post on a positive note with some wise, enlightened comments from one of my wisest colleagues/friends:

…Listen to the underrepresented people in your community. Listen without making them cater to you. For all its issues, Twitter is actually a great place for listening in on conversations between people in marginalized groups that don’t cater to outsiders. Follow a few dozen POC in different groups, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ folks, whatever group you don’t have such candid, in-person conversations with, and a few that you think you do – your perspective will change.

Then, use your new awareness. Boost voices who have been talking about these issues for years. Don’t take over – share their (credited) work with people who used to not understand, as you once didn’t understand. Help others learn as well.


Written by gordondym

October 28, 2020 at 7:35 am

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

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!

Caregiving, Self-Care, and Staying Connected

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One of the most brutal effects of this past winter has been its effect on my caregiving and my own self-care…and nearly cost me my sense of connection with others.

It may sound obvious, but one of the critical issues facing adult caregivers is the balance of caring for a family member and maintaining their own health. (In my case, my mother is my primary responsibility which started with a foot infection, and is now followed by her daily struggle with type 2 diabetes, chronic heart disease, and other related maladies). Between personal illness (I’m getting better – I promise!) and the struggles of maintaining a job search and other creative endeavors, my energy level has been low. Not low enough for depression, but low enough where I never felt I was getting enough “done”. Even efforts to drive a passive income, such as my writing Patreon, were being left in the dust…not out of apathy or laziness, but with limited emotional and physical resources.

(Thankfully, I have been engaging in some self-care behaviors to work through many of my issues. However, one of those behaviors – writing on a basis – was limited to journaling. That’s part of the reason why this blog has been a bit dry.)

small-biz-saturday-25Winter and caregiving also took a toll on my social life, as well…and that proved nearly fatal to my self-esteem. Being physically limited (after all, who wants to head out in thirty below wind chill weather) resulted in my attitude shifting towards negativity. Think of it less as “fear of missing out” and more towards believing that, at best, I was a minor player in my friends’ lives. Like many others, I was spiraling towards caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue, assuming that my life (as I knew it) was over, that my options were limited, and that quite honestly, I could easily fade out of my friends’ lives without being missed. Yes, I would be mourned if I passed on, but not acknowledged if they merely passed me by.

Luckily, there was a gradual progression in several aspects of my life that made caregiving and self-care easier and boosted my confidence. My networking efforts towards freelance consulting and full-time marketing work have progressed slowly yet evenly. (Revising my resume after a recruiter informed me that I needed to “beef up (my) resume before (she) could even consider working with (me)” was key…especially since I learned I didn’t have enough “bullet points”). Smaller victories like seeing a recent short story published by Airship 27 Productions and a Doctor Who panel approved by C2E2 helped boost my self-confidence). As my health improved, my capacity for self-care increased as I was spending more time tending to my physical health and establishing healthy boundaries.

(Spending less time on social media and more time on face-to-face interaction when I could help).

TARDIS at Pumping StationBut two events this past week helped place my self-care as a caregiver and my personal connections into sharp contrast. The first was a surprise birthday party thrown for me at a recent Chicago Doctor Who Meetup – with my schedule being crowded over the next month, a volunteer chose to throw it sooner rather than later. The other, sadder event was the sudden passing of a friend and colleague who I knew through the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction. She wasn’t much older than I am, and her passing hit me hard. (I’m working on a tribute to be coming soon). But both events reminded me of something that, as a caregiver, I take for granted;

I have people in my life. I matter to them. I may not always experience it directly, but I have to work at connectedness in order to stay connected.

All of this reminded me of last year’s post around social media and friendships, and so next week – my birthday week – I’m going to be heading out and engaging friends and others when I can. Tuesday night will see me running the Chicago Doctor Who Meetup out of LaCatrina Cafe in Pilsen. Wednesday – my birthday proper – I have no plans, but I’m staying open. Thursday night will see me reading at Open Books. Friday night will be my “unofficial” birthday party as I will be attending Raks Geek, and Saturday afternoon (if I’m able) I hope to catch Chicago Nerd Social Club’s Almost Pi Day at Open Books.

As a caregiver, I can easily avoid self-care and maintaining connections. After all, it is always easier to focus on the negative aspects, listening to the voice that says “Caregiving is all I can do at this point – no one will hire me, I have no other activities, and my life is over”.  But part of my role as caregiver is precisely self-care, allowing me to nurture my own emotional and physical well-being enough to carry out those roles. Part of my caregiving role also includes allowing my friends to be supportive…even if it’s just knowing that they’re concerned and want the best for me.

This year, the best birthday present I’ve received….Ok, it’s a copy of Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker. But personal growth, healthier self-care behaviors and the importance of staying connected? Definitely great gifts as well.

If you have comments or questions, please leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you wish to contact me directly, please feel free to use this email contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

February 28, 2019 at 11:21 am

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

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

Roseanne, Samantha Bee, and Free Speech

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Like many of you, I have been following news about Roseanne and Samantha Bee getting in trouble for making comments on Twitter. One made flat-out racist comments; the other used a questionable word. The result has been a lively, passionate discussion about free speech on Twitter. (As well as a correlating number of flat-out troll reactions). But I can bring a unique perspective: I have watched both women on television. I have seen Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, as well as most of the episodes of the Roseanne revamp, and their Twitter activities – in one case, gracefully, in another, sadly – reflects the tone and tenor of their work.

Let’s look at Samantha Bee’s infamous use of the “C-word” – let’s be honest: she’s used it on her show before and it’s been appropriately bleeped out. Remove it from this (or any other context), and she manages to make a serious point. (To be even more specific: how Ivanka could celebrate her being a mother when her father’s policies are encouraging the separation of children from their families at the border). Could she have made the same point without using that word? Of course. But Samantha Bee was exercising her right to free speech…and she is embracing the consequences.


Several sponsors have dropped out from her show. Samantha Bee has apologized for her statement in public (and on Twitter) multiple times. But at a time when criticizing the current Presidential administration is openly avoided (especially by the mainstream media) and key issues are often ignored or dismissed, turning Samantha Bee into a scapegoat seems hardly appropriate or worthwhile. (And an irrelevant side note: Samantha Bee once guest-starred on an episode of Law & Order that featured a television personality, inappropriate behavior, and prescription drugs. You should be able to catch it on Ion Television Wednesday mornings).

But when we discuss Roseanne’s tweet, in which she claims that an African-American leader is the result of interspecies breeding (to put it mildly)…there’s no way you can separate what she said from any larger point. (In other words, Roseanne’s tweet was merely posted as a mild insult in itself). And Roseanne’s post-tweet behavior – quitting Twitter, then blaming it on Ambien (resulting in the drug company disavowing racism as a side effect) and doubling down on her sense of outrage and wish to have her show uncanceled isn’t just immature…it’s part of her overall pattern of avoiding responsibility.0530-ctm-roseannecanceled-duthiers-1579923-640x360

I should know – I grew up during the first iteration of her sitcom.

I rarely, if ever, watched it – after all, many people in my family were like the Conners, and that’s not a compliment. (When her series finale was on the air, I ignored it in favor of the Doctor Who TV Movie, and then the Chicago Bulls playoff after that. I do not regret my choices). Whether it was fighting with producer Matt Williams, her short-lived marriage to Tom Arnold, or even her claims to a less-than-pleasant past, Roseanne has tended to engage in a similar pattern of behavior:

  • Make outrageous statements and claims, leading to public criticism
  • Provide a weak-willed apology that provides some rationalization/justification for her behavior, and
  • Continue to portray herself as the victim without any willingness to make positive change

And that’s before some of her more recent history of making outrageous claims, including calling a former Presidential candidate the “c-word”.

First, there’s an appropriate way to apologize, which writer John Scalzi outlines in his blog. But more importantly, this has implications for how issues of “free speech” are changing. After all, when we have a President making outrageous claims on Twitter and a media climate that focuses more on that than actual policy issues, does the First Amendment still hold sway?Flip_Flop_Social_Media_Icons_by_EffBomb

Yes, it does, because freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism or freedom from consequences.
For example, I can honestly state that after watching Samantha Bee and Roseanne’s new show…Samantha Bee takes huge chances when examining key political issues from a woman-centric perspective. However, having seen most of Roseanne’s reboot  I can honestly say that Roseanne’s show is a poorly-written, pandering pile of garbage that only serves as self-created fan fiction to assuage a fragile ego.

Seriously – plots have taken sudden twists (for example, Becky lies about her age in order to sell an egg for money…but turns out to be infertile. Two episodes have ended with variations on “you’re weird, but we love you anyway.”) One episode even suggested that living in a disaster area is a good thing because FEMA money would save them. (Let’s also include tone-deafness, especially amidst reports that Puerto Rico’s death toll has been sorely underestimated). But the pilot episode, where Roseanne’s sister calls her out on bullying and Roseanne’s response is “…Because I know what’s best for everybody”) sets the tone. In short, the Roseanne revival serves as a last-ditch effort for an aging star to maintain relevancy rather than find a new outlet.

Having said all that, I fully expect there to be criticism either in the comments below or via our Facebook page. Some will even “troll” me via my Twitter account with all the usual right-wing catchphrases to indicate how much lesser I am than they are…but that’s the power of the First Amendment: the President can’t call for a television show to be canceled (as he has with Samantha Bee) or provide “state-sanctioned” approval (like Roseanne). And even I have been trolled on Twitter by a PR agency who objected to a claim that buying Twitter followers was a “false tactic”.  But that’s the truth of free speech on social media – responses are immediate, and there are frequent consequences. It takes courage and dignity to face those consequences professionally.

Roseanne has publicly stated that she has felt “thrown under a bus”. But the great thing about free speech is that we can see that she did it to herself. And she’s reluctant to face the consequences.

But Samantha Bee? Handling it like a professional.

Written by gordondym

June 4, 2018 at 10:40 am