Your browser has JavaScript turned off.
You will not be able to make use of major viewing features of the Self-Sovereign Individual Project website unless you turn JavaScript on.

Focus on Freedom

Social Networks - Freedom Enhancers or Internet Ghettos?

by Kitty Antonik Wakfer with major contributions by Paul Wakfer


My original purpose in joining Facebook in late October 2011 was to stay informed about dance events in the central AZ area since these are no longer heavily promoted on the website, which I joined back in 2008 for that specific purpose. I had not previously created a Facebook account because of it's policy of not enabling full openness by those individuals who want it. Even though all my settings at Facebook are set for "public", that social network still does not enable large amounts of my information to be seen by those without Facebook accounts. My Facebook page brought up from a websearch at Google shows that my "work and education" as well as "philosophy" and "basic information" are all missing from the "Info" and my "Wall", "Photos", "Friends" and "Subscribers" are totally unaccessible.

This lack of total openness about personal and social characteristics/actions is not an acceptable way to operate in the society that I and Paul promote via the Theory of Social Meta-Needs which is the philosophical basis of the Self-Sovereign Individual Project - to achieve a society of total Liberty and maximal Freedom.
I have made it a regular practice to include the following with most initial links to the above treatise:
Note: This treatise and its many links to technical terms is NOT a breezy quick read - a warning for those looking for and used to soundbites with which to walk away, thinking that such bromides are really foundational and meaningful as a solution to serious social problems. If the solution to the problem of how a society of total liberty and maximal freedom, ordered solely by the social interactions of its members, can be organized and stably function were so simple, it would already have been much earlier discovered. Instead, the twin-framework implementations of the Social Meta-Needs theory - The Natural Social Contract and Social Preferencing - are envisioned as full replacements for the totality of existing governmental structures and mechanisms, which in the US alone require thousands of volumes and many millions (?billions? trillions?) of words enabling tens of thousands of lawyers to charge handsomely to serve as "gatekeepers" for the common folk.

The culture of a society must change before rulers/governments can disappear from the face of the earth - note the old truism: "The people get the government that they deserve". The cultural trend strongly enabled by the Internet in which large numbers of people wish to and do conceal their identities, their personal social characteristics and their social actions - or (even worse) create multiple identities for different purposes - together with the tacit tolerance of such behavior even by those who are completely open, is preventing the ability of all members of society to effectively assess all other members of society with whom they are interacting. Such lack of information accessibility makes it impossible to fully assess and evaluate the actions of others, relative to their advocacy, threatening or initiation of the use of force upon other members of society. And it is just such assessment and the social preferencing actions logically resulting from that assessment (just as with any decision to purchase or not purchase any good or service) which forms the primary non-violent method to effect the elimination of the State, and at the same time to introduce the mechanisms of social self-order founded and described by the Theory of Social Meta-Needs. I and Paul view Facebook, with its current practice of limited "public" information essentially creating a subnetwork within the potentially fully open Internet, as an enormously negative step in the totally wrong direction which is enabling/fostering the evolution of this current negative cultural tendency toward an even worse social condition, which is ever more conducive to the continued survival and growth of the State.

It occurred to me after writing what I did at Facebook and similarly at Google+, where I started an account on February 18 2012, that subnetworks (fully or partially closed) within the potentially fully open Internet are effectively ghettos, with users segregated behind opaque walls hidden from the general public of Internet users. It appears that many people find a certain comfort factor in being within this kind of enclosed niche, a sort of cyberwomb, imperceivable - or only visible to a very limited degree - by those without a certain level of acceptance either to the ghetto management and/or to the users themselves. It is not government agents who most users of these social networks (and it appears most of those online) appear to fear being privy to certain types of information about them - most readily acknowledge that government can find out anything it wants, but rather they seek to hide from their families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employers and often just anyone at all. Public speculations about the way social networks are used goes beyond me and Paul; I recently found "Where Is Everyone on Google+?" to be very interesting for what many of the participants had to say in answer to that question - and I added my own comment.

These users and advocates of cyberconcealment seek to hide some one or more items of thought and/or action in their present and/or past from those who they fear would not like them if they knew. To this my response is two-fold, first, "Do you think that your ideas/actions are wrong?" Followed by, "If not, and they don't like you anymore once they find out, why would you continue to like them and even want to associate with them?" A person reveals a distorted view of hirself if s/he continues to rate as important someone who no longer likes hir because of a fact/behavior about hirself which s/he considers to be fully proper/acceptable and often even highly positive. Very often, however, the fearful person is imagining a situation that would not occur: that parents/spouse/children/siblings will disown hir; than an employer will fire hir; that friends will abandon hir. Even if these worst should happen, the person is letting the someone(s) else be the limiting factor on hir self-esteem and even hir very freedom of action, and that should be of serious concern to anyone in such a situation.

The follow-up when the answer to the wrongness of ideas held/actions done is "yes", necessitates understanding why the person thinks it is wrong and therefore why is s/he continuing to think/do it under those circumstances. If it was a past action of harm-causing (even to one's self) no longer done, the issues of lessons learned and possible restitution to any harmed parties are what need to be included in present available information - everyone has learned lessons from past actions which had a better alternative at the time. Anyone who claims s/he has never made a poor decision is either in cognitive decline or is lying. If harm-causing is current action, then cease it, making my immediate preceding comment applicable. If assistance in doing so is needed, seek and use it in sending the present into the past.

The cyberhiders most likely have never considered what wide-view long range effect this practice of hiding/anonymity has on the attainment of a better society which many of them actively whine in their posts about wanting - a society without the current seemingly endless restrictions of rulers/government, claimed by the rulers as necessary for social order.

Humans are social animals and the influence on an individual regarding what others will think of them, including associating or not with them, can become the fully effective means by which a stable social order of self-reinforcing feedback beneficial to all members of society is maintained, without any need of a top-down set of rules enforced by paid goons with special privileges. A person who's actions - eg. stealing/damaging another's property or initiating unpermitted physical injury - are assessed by the vast majority of others to be unacceptable will, to the extent that this majority withdraws all voluntary association with her/him (hir), not be able to continue to exist unless and until s/he sets right the wrong(s) s/he did to the satisfaction not only of those harmed but also those who are negatively Socially Preferencing hir. In this highly technological communication age, fleeing and/or hiding is only possible if anonymity is tolerated by the majority. Similarly the Social Preferencing - positive and negative - by all of the social actions of all can now be made accessible on the Internet to everyone, thus effectively enabling full evaluation of all by all, most definitely also including assessment of such Social Preferencing actions themselves and the reasons for them. Promotion has been made before of this concept and its similarity to the long accepted assessment of the characteristics and overall benefit/cost of products and services. "[P]ersonal characteristics of [individuals can be viewed] as simply a subset of the collection of all commodities that are exchanged on the marketplace of human interactions ... as in the case of other types of goods and services."

One liberty-promoter friend told me in a comment on his post at Google+ that he sees "issues of anonymity/pseudonymity as easily addressed as pricing/preferencing matters, and so as not a major obstacle (indeed, not an obstacle at all) to full liberty/maximal freedom." But if one does not know who is the author of words on the Internet or the person committing various actions described on the Internet, then how is one to know who to Socially Preference for or against? Products and services have specific producers and sellers associated with them and individuals can choose to purchase or not based on the reputations of those sources. All that a person can do is refuse to voluntarily associate online with someone who refuses to use hir real name directly or make it available via link to hir commonly used pseudonym(s). This does not solve "the issue of anonymity/pseudonymity" because this person could easily be saying different things in different places (various social networks included) on the Internet and doing something quite different again in person. This duality wasn't possible in the small towns of 100 years ago, because everyone knew their neighbors and the town gossip kept all informed, more than some wanted.... But in a society of cities, and spaces in between, connected electronically by the Internet brimming with providers of services eager to please those with short-term narrow scope ideas for tolerance, hiding can be done even though it is in the long run limiting of comprehensive Social Preferencing actions by all and thereby making impossible the emergence of social order without government.

Social networks have significant technical potential for enabling millions of people to interconnect and promote the best among them in the way of ideas, services and products. But this cannot happen - the promotion of the best - when all the characteristics of all the people involved are not available for the evaluation by all. The consequences of this lack of widespread openness not being the situation - in the past neither widespread openness nor its purposeful concealment were technologically possible - is enabling and promoting the continued existence of the current highly inoptimal social order ruled from the top by governments, deemed to be necessary (and in the context of the current culture of society actually being necessary), despite the evils that accompany them.


Comment Section

MoreLife Yahoo is the preferred location for all comments because it allows for inline/interleaved and threaded responses; links from such discussion there will be added here. Additionally email comments that show reasoned analysis, quote the article text which is being addressed and are from fully identified people are also welcome and will be posted here as they come, including clear threading when/if responded to (made clear again by including author and text being addressed).
Please send such email comments together with identifying information to the author of the article. Commenter email addresses can be included (if permitted by the commenter, link actionable or not as desired), but will not automatically be included by us and limited sig lines will be allowed.

New 2/28/12 Comment thread at MoreLife Yahoo started by Tom Knapp