Social Media Content Control or No New Sharecropping, No, No, No

Social media content control, as well as curation, can be a difficult process. Once we have comfortably programmed our favorite phone application to remember our screen names and passwords, we tend to forget that we are providing content in a means similar to sharecropping. Now, for Black African Americans familiar with US sharecropping, this metaphor might seem a bit of a stretch. Like with most things US, economic, and Black, the story is much more hostile, violent, and inhumane than the story outside of the United States. In the same way that slavery in Brazil or England tends to read much less brutal than in the United States, so does the practice of sharecropping tend to read much more fair in other places.

 

To keep things neat and tidy here, the essence of the analogy of Twitter user to Twitter as tenant farmer to landlord, is producer/worker to owner. As of the date of this writing, the Owl’s Asylum account on Twitter is suspended. That means, I do not have the ability to delete, republish, or respond to any of the one hundred thousand plus pieces of content I have provided Twitter the company with. I do not have access to the one-hundred and twenty shy of six thousand followers I have accumulated over the past four or so years. I have no control over any of the writings stored on the servers that house the content of Twitter. As a result of this relationship, Twitter severing ties with Asylum has lost me half to one-third of my organic traffic to Asylum. Those are not good numbers. But, I blame Owl for this.

 

I do not blame myself for Twitter suspending my account. If I had a guest post on Asylum that generated five thousand or more users to interact with it daily, like say, this post, and I was discomforted by the writer of that post, I would not pull the post. But, I am Owl, not the owners and developers of Twitter, and they have their own rules to abide by. My point of accountability lies in developing a stronger content model on the apparatus of someone else, than on my own.

 

I have worked incessantly to establish the brand Owl’s Asylum, Owl, and Asylum under the same principles of “poor righteous teacher” that I live by. In being one that is capable of forging radical ideas and developing ingenious tactics to deploy said ideas, I am upset that I have spent so much time in one channel that I do not own. As the person that developed Owl’s Asylum, the only space online for Black people to examine media, entertainment, culture, and Black African American history from the perspective of someone that has seen prison, homelessness, and university, I am upset with myself. As the person that developed Owl’s Asylum, a space for thinking Black people to gain insights into the messages being communicated to them so they can better think for themselves as opposed to allowing others to think for them, yes, damn it, I am extremely salty with Owl.

 

I write for the Thinking Person. People who read Owl’s Asylum are people that like to ask questions and do not like when their emotional drawstrings are pulled. This especially when those emotional drawstrings are also doubling as their purse strings. When most online content providers were “dumbing down” their content, I was looking for a bigger thesaurus, a more unabridged dictionary, and more abstractions to apply to the everyday struggle. I should have known better, as stated here, I am a “Digital Hustler”, and that implies something I hate admitting I overlooked. Social media is a great opportunity to meet new people, but unless you are paying the server fees, I cannot advise you providing content on these sites as if you are.

 

According to eMarketer predictions, Twitter will reach an ad revenue generated evaluation of one billion dollars by the year 2014. That is ad revenues generated primarily(53%) through mobile devices. Let me ask a series of questions here:

 

How many people do you know logging into Twitter to read ads, “promoted content”?

 

Of those that you know that definitely do not log on to Twitter dot com to read “promoted content”, how many log on to read the content provided by others?

 

Of that group of people that log on to read the content provided by others, how many of the people they log on to read are getting any percentage points of revenue directly from Twitter the corporation?

 

Now, that is sharecropping the United States of America way. Twitter was not even willing to provide Owl and his Asylum a reason as to why the account was suspended. I had to search engine my way to an understanding of why my followers were asking about my whereabouts. I came across this piece on the topic, and this article, then this one, and this one, and then this one. After reviewing the consistencies across a few other channels, I still do not know why Twitter suspended my account. Nor do I feel compelled to fight to have access to provide a company with free content that they are receiving a projected one billion dollars in ad revenues from. Like the Digital Hustler, I am, I am willing to chalk this lack of social media content control to the game, and keep moving.

 

A few months back I was reading an article posted by Sonia Simone. The article was posted on highly recognized CopyBlogger dot com. The title of the article is “The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Online Marketing Efforts”, and she discusses the concept of “digital sharecropping” and the lack of social media content control, in a slightly different tone than I am(I mean, come, come, now…who in all of the interwebs writes anything with the same tone or perspective as Owl?), but providing much of the same essence. She opens the composition of caution with this story I am reproducing here:

 

We have a great bookstore in my town — the kind of place you picture in your mind when you think of a great independent bookshop.

 

It’s perfect for browsing, with lots of comfy chairs to relax in. The books are displayed enticingly. There’s a little coffee shop so you can relax with an espresso. They get your favorite writers to come in for readings, so there’s always a sense of event and excitement.

 

They do everything right, and they have always had plenty of customers.

 

But they still closed their doors last year.

 

No, not for the reasons you might think. It wasn’t Amazon that killed them, or the proliferation of free content on the web, or the crappy economy.

 

They closed the store because they were leasing their big, comfortable building … and when that lease ran out, their landlord tripled the rent.

 

Literally overnight, their business model quit working. Revenues simply wouldn’t exceed costs. A decision made by another party, one they had no control over, took a wonderful business and destroyed it.

 

And that’s precisely what you risk every day you make your business completely dependent on another company.

 

It might be Facebook. It might be eBay. It might be Google.

 

The analogy here is precise. Simone also provides tactics and strategies that I have implemented over the years, so, in closing I will add my own “also do” list here:

 

1:: Along with owning your own domain name and paying for your own hosting, continue to add the link to your site to all digital exchanges and content. You should be typing- or having automated- the words “Read more here…” until you earl.

 

2:: With an increased linking of your content, also back up all of your social media exchanges that might work as stand-alone content on your site, or just writings you wish to keep. For Asylum, I use ThinkUp and it plugs right into your online database, giving you absolute control over what is stored and when.

 

3:: The last tactic I am going to leave here is create a ratio that demands you to have more content on your own site than on any other. It is not wise to have more images of your product or service on Pinterest or Instagram than you have on your purchased domain, and regularly billed site. You are paying a recurring bill, act like it.

5 Devices I Demand From My Self As A Writer

Very often I find my Self tired or uninspired by blog posts about blog posting. Yet, I do find that it is necessary to imbibe and scour the thoughts of successful writers of this new media. Granted, our dear creator did not see fit to create all writers with equal portions of skill, and more than not, a success in a Capitalism is not based on talent or merit, but popular appeal, market attention, and/or fill in your own blanks. So, over the years, I’ve grown to scan posts before I actually read them, in hopes that they will contain 5 of the most salient elements I need to be satiated as a reader. Given these elements work to parch my needs as a reader, I’ve grown to demand that these ingredients be found in all of my written dishes.

 

1) Emotional Appeal

 

    It helps to be passionate about the topic you are discussing. Even more, it helps to know your audience well enough to know what they are passionate about. One of the devices in a writer’s tool kit should be the ability to make interesting connections, or analogy. This is at root of the poet’s simile or metaphor. Often it does not need to be very pronounced, in fact, it is better to be nuanced. Much of the success of the writing of the Boondocks is Aaron McGruder and his team’s ability connect what is seemingly unrelated in very comical and appealing ways. His use of a character, Lil’ Milton, that alludes to a real life child and his grandmother and using that news story alongside a theme based on “Juice” and comparing Lil’ Milton to the role of Bishop made popular by the late great Tupac Shakur was a remarkable manner of connection and emotional appeal.

 

Did you see what I did there?

 

2) Logically Sound

 

    Most of the writing we come across is an attempt to persuade. This means that the writing has to present an argument of one sort or the other. What I have noticed online in blogs is that many writers tend to lean on the ignorance or need to belong of their audience. This often makes for a logic that, although sound, not always cogent. Logic is the study of methods fr evaluating whether the premise of an argument adequately supports its conclusion. In this study, there are deductive arguments and inductive arguments. Deductive arguments are those arguments that we define as arguments composed of premises that guarantee the conclusion. Deductive arguments are arguments in which the premises are intended to make the conclusion more probable, without guaranteeing it. Now, there are also valid arguments where if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true. Then there are invalid arguments, in which it is not necessarily true that if the premises are true, the conclusion is true. This leads to sound and unsound argumentation. A sound argument is a valid argument whereby all the premises are true. An unsound argument is one that either is invalid or has at least one false premise.

 

That being given, and writers expecting that their audiences agree with certain positions without question, can lead to a litany of posts and essays being very unsound. In my experience, what makes an argument invalid is usually a lack of information or a refusal to consider certain perspectives on a topic. The argument that some present in support of a post-racial USA is that racism no longer exists. Now, this demands a few definitions, that if not defined, or if simply presented along accepted lines of thought, will yield an invalid postulation.

 

I can handle contradictions. A part of logic is the ability to inject a contradiction into any argument. What I seek as a reader– and what I seek to present as a write — is an argument that reflects a well researched position. At least consider the most common oppositions to your presentation. I do not expect every piece written to be a bit of exceptional polemics, but I do expect that you’ve considered more positions than the one you are presenting.

 

3) Layered & Below The Surface Commentary

 

    I did not expect such a smooth segue, but there it was. For more than just persuasive considerations, I seek works that dig beneath the obvious or the most common thoughts on a topic. I am a fairly well-read person, and I demand that it shows in my writing. When reading pieces that reflect no more than would could be gleaned at a barbershop, I quickly dismiss the writer as just writing for quantity purposes. I do not subscribe to the school of thought that demands that writers present materials that an 8th grader should be able to imbibe. I demand more of my Self as a reader, and thusly, I demand more of my readers. More importantly, I want to present more to my readers, and unless you are in the business of writing 8th grade fiction or textbooks, I would suggest you not treat your audience like teeny bops.

 

To be a good writer, I believe it begs a lot of reading. It also asks that I seek various sources of commentary on differing positions. Typically, those that I consider “beneath the surface” writers, are also the type of people that can suspend judgment and consider at least three completely different worldviews alongside their own. Although, I, like most people, find numbers sexy, I do not just seek quantified data, but also qualified data such as anecdotes and quotes from those that lend their perspectives to the topic. It just speaks volumes to me about how much a wrter appreciates their audience when they go the extra distance for them.

 

4) Sources Cited

 

    In the same vein, do not just hurl data at me without considering how much I might trust you. Cite your sources. Not just because you were told to do so in school, not just because it is ethical, but because I might want to follow that same rabbit hole and see what goodies I might be allowed to find. Especially for those that consider them Selves “bloggers”. Links are the internet. Google is a megalithic empire because of links. Connect your readers to those that you are gleaning inspiration and knowledge from. Treat your readers like adults. Treat your readers like they have a well-developed system of critical thinking that would cause them to question your sources. Treat your readers like they have a refined sense of curiosity and might be wondering what shoulders your feet have stood on. Do not treat your readers like enemies you have to keep secrets from. Plus, it only makes your writing that much more professional and authoritative when you present your sources.

 

5) Imagery

 

Humans are a very visual being. Our first set of writing communications were pictograms. Much of what is emotionally appealing is that ability to present visual cues, either through our vivid words or actual images or illustrations. Beyond logic and beyond layered presentations, we have to remember that life moves along a dynamic constant we refer to as time, and all of our present movements cascade into the future. We are escape artist by function. Regardless of the writing, it should take me out of my present space in some sort of fashion. Whether that be giving me action cues to improve my well-being, or to create a completely fantastic world that does not exist outside of the collective imagination: writing should move us from our present states.

 

I expect vivid words that lift life from the page. I expect brilliance of thought that details and explores the writer’s perspective. I want to read works that play with ideals I have not imagined. And in my desire to read such, I demand that I also write in such fashion.

My Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

It’s official—I hate Twitter again.

 

For quite some time I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Twitter, manic tweeting one minute, closing my account the next. I’ve been trying to figure out why I hate Twitter since early 2012. I think I may have finally figured it out: Groupthink.

While I cannot say Erykah Badu is the originator of the concept, I can thank her for this word’s rise in popularity; but maybe this is also why the act of “Groupthink” is also at an all-time high, especially on Twitter. With the “13 Holy War,” and the perpetually repetitive and depressing topics discussed via #BlackTwitter (amongst the many other volatile exchanges happening daily), it’s no wonder why I’ve left a shell of an account on Twitter. It’s all starting to remind me of church….and I cannot stand the concept of church (although I’ll visit if the mood calls for it).

 

“Don’t say that!” “You should speak on or fight for this cause.” “That’s too abrasive!” “You shouldn’t feel this way.” Really? How should I feel? Should I feel like you? Would that make you feel better about yourself, to have someone agree with your thoughts? Perhaps this is a form of insecurity, the desire to have others agree with your logic.

 

There is no longer room to just breathe and be on Twitter. Everything one says can be twisted, turned against a person, and is up for debate. But here’s the problem…I don’t feel the need to debate, nor do I feel the need to “explain” my feelings. I am beyond explaining myself to motherfuckers who are so offended and filled with anger that they wouldn’t understand my explanation anyway. I’m over it. I’m over the obligation Twitter, especially Black Twitter, places on people to be an “example,” a role model, and all of the above. I am no damn saint, I am no one’s role model, I am no one’s teacher, mentor, spokesperson or any of that shit.

 

Yes, you’re a Vegan, but you’re still an asshole.

In possession of a degree or two? Congratulations! You’re still an asshole.

You can spell, and must constantly prove your prowess by correcting the spelling and grammar of others. The only thing this proves…is that you’re an insecure asshole.

Yes, you have thousands of followers, but guess what? You’re still an asshole…a closed-minded asshole with dingle berries hanging from your anus.

And please, tell me, does being an asshole via Twitter pay well? I certainly hope so.

 

Ever feel that pit in your stomach when someone on Twitter starts a beef with you and calculate how long it takes to let that “upset” pass through your system? THAT angers me. Allowing a person on Twitter—who I’ll likely never meet, who hasn’t bought my music, supported my business, and may be a degenerate, little dicked dweeb or a low-budget crack whore in person—to have an effect on my mood angers ME more than anything, because then I am wasting energy and time trying to get back to my happy place, talking myself down with “it’s just Twitter.” But it ISN’T just Twitter! It’s people, from all over the world, clinging to your every word, adding meaning where there is sometimes none, and wanting to lecture you on how you should express yourself; and there is nothing I hate more than people trying to control my self-expression. Like I said, I don’t do church.