Freedom, Censorship, & You: The Ultimate Guide (Emma's Dilemma) Pt. 2

CONTINUED FROM PART 1.

Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide To Censorship had Emma learning about the origins of censorship, influence, and power. We left off with Emma on a bathroom-break, about to learn anonymity, whales, and downvotes, so that's where we'll pick up. (Also, there's a better-formatted version of this article here: jryze.me/censor


"K, I'm back, Dad!" Emma exclaimed.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew deep topics like censorship can be a lot to digest, and the thought occurred to me that Emma might take off to play with her friends, and her understanding of censorship would be incomplete.

Looks like I didn't have to worry, she's like a dog with a bone when she really wants to learn something, and her photo's status was still a bee in her bonnet.

"Welcome back! What were we talking about?"

"Trump I think. His 'anti-politically-correct' stance."

10. POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

"Yes! And what is 'political correctness?'"

“Well, it’s censoring any expression that might offend some group. I’d say.”

“Right, and someone like you, who is so passionate about her freedom of expression, might possibly LIKE a leader who is anti-censorship, right?”

“Excuse me?! Are you saying I voted for Trump?”

“I’m saying that in a society that’s being censored often by Big Tech, a leader with an opposing view is very appealing. The tribe is likely to buy what he’s selling if they’re also fed up with Big Tech’s censorship.”

“You’re saying that you can understand how he gained agreement from the tribe and made it into office, because everyone’s tired of political correctness.”

“Booyah.”

“Please don’t say that again.”

“Oh, Emma, are you trying to censor my speech?”

“No, I’m trying to save other people’s ears.”

“And there you have most censorship arguments in a nutshell.”

“Hahah, very funny.”

“So the politically incorrect candidate gained office, then got censored by Twitter. He has power and influence. Did he fight the ban? Did he make new laws to harm twitter?”

“Not really.”

“The President picks his battles and didn’t feel ready to go head to head with ‘Big Tech.’ He accepted his ban, basically.”

“Who wouldn’t? Social media censors more than the government now.”

“Ahem, including your photo, right?”

“Yes!!!”

“Chill Em. You’ve got to admit, you have a way, way, way better understanding of why stuff like this happens, how it plays out, and ways you can come out on top now, right?”

“I guess.”

“You guess? Why am I teaching you freedom of speech 101 for some lukewarm response?”

“OK! I definitely know more, and I’m super grateful… but you still haven’t told me the secret to recovering my photo!”

“We’re almost there, bumblebee. Let’s talk about facts vs. opinions, first. It will set the stage for solutions, ok?”

Censor_180_Fam_Gov_BigTech.png

"Fine, what matters more, facts, or opinions?"

“You tell me.”

“I used to think facts mattered more, but after everything we’ve discussed, it sounds like all that really matters is how many people you can persuade to agree with your opinion.”

“Yes, and facts are useful mainly because they can assist in persuasion.”

Censor_190_SeeSaw.png

"Like cancel culture, right?"

“Exactly. The facts of what someone does don’t matter nearly as much as the opinions of others about those facts. A person may have done something normal, but with even a whiff of controversy, ‘snowflakes’ may fly off the handle, go on a witch hunt, and start a mob to censor that person from the tribe entirely.”

“Do you think ‘snowflakes’ are censoring my risque pics?”

“Not necessarily. Maybe you’re the snowflake in this scenario, getting all incensed because people used their downvote power in a way you don’t like.”

“But it’s my art!”

"Many others would see it as porn."

“What? It’s so tasteful!”

“To your mother and I it is, honey, but much of America holds onto Victorian prudishness. They simply do not see the value of showing off a human body. They believe fervently in modesty and restraint, and so they censor anyone who goes against that.”

“Can’t we just live and let live?”

“Oh probably, but that requires emotional maturity and co-operative solution-finding from opposing sides. Is it possible to ‘control’ prudish people? Is it possible to make them emotionally mature and focused on win-win solutions for both sides of the art vs. porn issue?”

“No.”

“Then there you go. Whether you think they’re ‘snowflakes’ ’cause they can’t handle your risque photos, or they think you’re the snowflake for not sucking up the downvotes… neither of you are mastering your emotions here. Neither of you are currently focused on solutions.”

Emma ground her teeth. She didn’t want to admit the truth of what I was saying, but I’d raised her to call things like they are, and admit the truth when faced with it.

Censor_200_Trigger_Vs_Mature.png

11. BULLYING

"You have a point. Still, maybe they're just cyber-bullying me?"

“That’s possible. But most of this stuff is just the consequences of someone ‘expressing freely’ in a group.”

“Are you saying this is my fault?”

“I’m saying you have power, and you use it often. Issues pop up when you’re unaware of what’s going on. If you’re in a church, you know that you’re free to blaspheme, but you probably wouldn’t because you know it would upset the group, and it’s not worth taking a stand on. If you’re in a nightclub, you’re still free to blaspheme, but this time you’re likely more comfortable doing so. Your awareness of group dynamics makes you happy to put aside your freedom-of-speech crusade until church lets out.”

“Well that’s just it, Hive made me think there is no censorship there.”

“So did you expect Hive to welcome hate-speech? Would you try crossing that line due to your freedom of expression?”

“Well, no but…”

“So then you’re aware that Hive, as a group, has boundaries. And you’re aware enough not to test them. And you understand if you did that there’d be consequences. And you chose to ‘play nice’ by avoiding hate speech?”

"I'd never write hate speech anywhere."

“Sure, but you see my point. Someone truly passionate about freedom of speech might actually try testing those boundaries, right?”

“Maybe…”

“And they’d be upset, just like you were, if their expression ended up censored, right?”

“And then you’d be the one justifying the censorship, right?”

“Oh.”

“I thought so. And now with the internet, when someone does dip into hate speech, a lot of the time we don’t even know who it is. And why is that?”

Because they're anonymous?"

“Yep. Keyboard warriors feel consequence-free behind their screens. They know they won’t be ejected from the tribe, because no one can even prove they said anything.”

Censor_210_Troll.png

"So how do we moderate if people are anonymous?"

“As best we can. Reddit uses voting and public opinion to deal with it. YouTube uses copystrikes and AI. Hive uses vote-strength, where that strength currently resides substantially with whales. Each group handles it differently. Many disenfranchised souls on the receiving end of these censorship systems don’t feel they ‘handle’ it at all. But… mass anonymity is a relatively new thing. Historically we haven’t really dealt with this, so moderation of it is a new challenge.”

12. PRIVACY

"But I guess we all have a right to privacy?"

“Sure, and there’s tons of benefits to that. I love my privacy. I love being able to express freely. I love a lot of things. But when I’m interacting with a group, there are natural consequences to how far I push these things. There are power dynamics at play. And all the complaining in the world won’t make those things go away. It’s just the same way a beta wolf can’t whine to the other wolves in order to become the alpha. And the same way a smaller lion can’t rally the rest of the pride against Mufasa. I mean they can, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum, free of all backlash. There are results from doing stuff like that. Consequences.”

"You said consequences keep us accountable."

“They do. If a beta wolf doesn’t like how things are run, he’s free to go off, become a lone wolf temporarily, until he becomes the alpha of his own pack. Same goes for people.”

“Isn’t it reductive to compare people to animals?”

“Why? They’re both creatures in nature. Both obey the laws of nature. Both are subject to inter-group power dynamics.”

“So… groups of people will always self-organize into an hierarchy, whether visible or invisible.” Emma sighed.

“Well, I’m open to something else happening, but it hasn’t so far.”

“So basically groups will always exist, and all I can do is find one I like best?”

“That’s one solution. But can you think of any others?”

"The only solution I see is to raise better kids."

“That’s my girl. One of my favorite solutions. The next generation has always been our saving grace, and holy grail, and the highest leverage solution we have is to ‘be the change’ and inspire the people who come next. Every group has ‘systems’ and ‘rules’ in place to maintain it’s boundaries decently well. In a democracy, laws get changed by lawmakers, who are voted into power by people. On a digital platform like Hive, ‘system code’ gets changed by ‘witnesses,’ who are voted into power by users. Generational influence is one of the most powerful tools of change… That said, it won’t get your picture back now, which is what I assume you want.”

“Oh Em Eff Gee, Dad, YES, PLEASE. What do I do?”

“You tell me. Show me what you’ve learned from all this.”

“OK, so…

  1. Hive is a group of people.
  2. Like any group, they contain power structures and social dynamics.
  3. There is zero point complaining about this.
  4. I have the same three options we talked about earlier.”

“Remind me what they are?”

“A. Increase my influence til I ‘win’, B. Play nice and take my lumps, or C. Find/make a more suitable group for me.”

“Beautiful. You understand it clearly. And you see that this clear-mindedness is only available to you when you put your triggers away, and take responsibility for your thoughts, moods, and choices?”

“Yeah, that’s a subtle undercurrent running through this entire lesson.”

“What is?”

Censor_220_Three_Options.png

"That since I control my beliefs & moods, it's on me to navigate society."

“Right. Because freedom of speech is not freedom of consequences. And because power structures exist in all groups, behavior moderation and censorship exist in all groups.”

“So the only option on the face of the planet is to accept that and navigate with maturity, to the best of my ability.”

“Bingo. So whatcha gonna do?”

“Gosh…I’ll have to think about it.”

“Actually you won’t.”

“What? Why not? This is a major decision now. It’s not just about my photo, it’s about my place in society, or at least, in Hive. Do I want to raise my influence and reverse these downvotes somehow? Would I go so far as to ‘buy’ votes in crypto, or in real life? Would I rather move on to another platform? Or maybe, like you said, start my own sex-positive social platform?”

“All great questions Em, and I’m glad you’re thinking deeply about it, coming to your own conclusions.”

“Right, so why would you say I won’t have to?”

“Because while you were in the bathroom I DM’d a couple of the whales and it turns out you got downvoted not because they’re anti-sexiness, you got downvoted to balance out the rewards pool.”

“Wait… what?”

“That’s what they told me. Nothing personal, they love you and your photos, they were just doing their duty to balance out the rewards pool.”

“Uh, that actually makes me feel worse!”

“Huh? Why? Sounds nice to me.”

“Dad, you know so little about Hive. That means that they think my post was over-rewarded, maybe even low-effort! It means they don’t think it deserved all the attention it was getting!”

“Oh, I see. And you’re not cool with that.”

“No!”

"Well then I guess you do need to figure out what you're going to do."

“Grr.”

“Hey, but at least you have a solid foundation of knowledge. At least you understand how this all works. At least you’re not some powerless victim spitting into the wind, raging at the storm of censorship in front of you ineffectually.”

“Yeah, thanks to your masterclass on freedom & censorship, Dad.”

“Aw, well I’m glad you appreciate it, hon. And now you can teach it to Cass when a teacher censors her essay or her science project ruffles too many feathers.”

“Puh-leeze, like I’m teaching Cass anything.”

“Well that’s your decision, and you’re free to make it, but a powerful member of our family may respond by flexing our power and influencing the consequences, if you know what I mean.”

“Geez!”

"You're right, I'll never see life the same way again."

“Toldja.”

“Actually, more like I won’t see power, censorship, and freedom of expression the same way, that’s for sure.”

“Yep, you have levelled up beyond most people who talk about this stuff. They’ve not considered even the tip of the iceberg, whereas you’ve swam underwater and set up a little ice-cave in the middle of it.”

“Yes! If knowledge is power, I’m practically a free-speech goddess!”

000_6_Months_Later.jpg

*** 6 Months Later ***

13. WHALES

"So what does it feel like now that you're a whale yourself, honey?"

“It’s pretty crazy. On the one hand, it’s great because I can post whatever I want and because of my Hive Power and influence, it’s hard for downvotes to affect me much.”

“Aren’t you glad you took my advice to increase your own power influence?”

“I am. At first I was doing it in an unaligned way. Sucking up to people felt like shady politics.”

“But?”

‘But once I began just being myself, contributing my value, and bringing many of my model friends to the platform, things started to click. Hivers started seeing me as a huge source of growth for the platform. They started respecting me more. I feel so blessed. And it’s great because now I can post whatever I want and because of my Hive Power and influence, it’s hard for downvotes to affect me much.”

“I’m hearing an unspoken ‘but’…”

“But on the other hand, now I feel more pressure.”

“How come?”

“Because my downvotes mean so much, and I know more about the reward pool and how Hive works now.”

“Why does that matter?”

“Well, since you’re not on Hive you won’t get it.”

“Explain it to me.”

Censor_230_Whale.png

"OK, well there's a few things you should know about Hive Rewards Pool:

  1. It’s like a daily pie, that keeps growing until a certain year.
  2. Each day the whole pie gets fed to Hivers until 2035.
  3. When someone downvotes one slice of pie, the other slices of pie get bigger.
  4. On Hive, these ‘slices’ are each Hiver’s post.”
  5. Sometimes Hivers get carried away and ‘over-reward’ an original post, which hurts all the other posts of the day, since the original post is gobbling up most of the rewards. Conscientious curators and whales like me will sometimes ‘downvote’ posts like this in order to make sure rewards are being dished out more fairly, and it’s done as a positive service to all of Hive.

Make sense?”

“Yes, I’m following. So why are you so pressured?”

Censor_235_Rewards_Pool_C.png

"Because since I have so much Hive Power, I can heavily influence which slices get bigger, and which get smaller."

“So what?”

“So, everytime I upvote or downvote something, people complain! It’s impossible to please them!”

“Hmmm… I see. Well, what are some of the issues they complain about?”

14. DOWNVOTES

"They complain about every single downvote."

“Of course they do, hon, they’re human beings. When I tell you your time on the XBox is over, and to give Cassie a turn, what do you do?”

“Ugh. Complain. Welp, I’m never doing that again.”

“Sure, for the XBox, but there’s a 99% chance you’ll do it with something else. It’s human psychology. People snap back when something unexpected or unpreferred, or both happens to them. Downvotes are no exception. In fact, there’s only a few exceptions I can think of.”

“Oh like what?”

“Buddha, maybe.”

“So you’re saying unless every Hiver has Buddha-level emotional control, I’ll always be the target of complaints?”

“Basically, yes. And no matter why you’re downvoting…

...it's going to feel like censorship to some Hivers.

Whether it is or it isn’t may just be semantics, because unless you plan on making every Hiver into buddha, they’re going to see things their own way. They won’t have had this convo about social dynamics. They’ll just see their ideas being repressed and visibility on the platform being suppressed.”

"The psychology of language."

“Oh god, this sounds like science and math. C’mon Dad, my photo!”

“What do you kids say? Chill out? It’s not too science-y. Here, think about this, what gives you a better emotional reaction:

A. ‘I hate your sucky photo.’

or

B. ‘The photo I’m seeing just isn’t for me, hopefully that’s ok with you?’

“Option B, obvi! It’s way nicer and more respectful.”

“Exactly, that’s the psychology of language. All we say and do has ‘energy’ behind it. That energy can be loving and respectful energy that aims not to step on toes, or it can be blunt but truthful, or it can be malicious and disrespectful.”

“Or anywhere in between, right?”

“You bet. Now let’s look at another example, what gets a better emotional reaction from you:

A. A ‘random’, ‘unjustified’, ‘downvote’

or

B. A respectfully explained ‘rewards rebalancing’?”

“The answer is B again, for sure. And this is totally clicking. Even though Hives ‘downvotes’ use the same language as reddit, since financial rewards are involved, I can see how this ‘language’ could easily come off as bad energy and intentions that will trigger people, even if it’s not.”

“Smart girl. So, what are the intentions behind downvotes?”

"Well, downvotes are mainly to prevent reward abuse."

“What’s that?”

“It’s where people are buying votes, or selling votes, or self-voting their own content to manipulate their slice of the pie.”

“Oh yeah, most groups frown on such shady tactics and police it. This is why governments have voter-fraud and anti-trust laws.”

“Exactly, so why are people so mad about them?”

“You’re the one getting the complaints, you tell me.”

"Well, a lot of the complaints just come from entitled jerks who got their first downvote and threw a fit."

“Yes, things that appear to be unexpected, unjustified, unfair punishments drive most people nuts. Remember how you felt months ago when your photo was downvoted?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Would you have responded better if you were told up front what the ‘downvote punishment’ was for? Why it was happening to you?”

“I mean, I’d probably have gone from ‘livid’ to ‘annoyed’ or ‘confused’, sure.”

“Right, on Facebook or Instagram, if I want to ‘report’ a piece of content as against the community, I literally have to provide a reason for it. Do they make you do that on Hive?”

"Nah, downvotes can happen with no justification given.

And there’s no way I’m explaining to all these dudes why I downvoted them.”

“I see. Well that’s fine, you can do whatever you want, but just understand that people respond better to punishments that are justified, or at least have an attempt made to do so.”

“So if I want to downvote with impunity, I’d best be ready for the complaints is what you’re saying.”

“I am. But surely there are other complaints, right?”

“Yes, some of them are from honest creators, doing their best, and…

...there does exist some undeserved downvotes."

“Sounds like a girl I once knew…”

“Shush. This isn’t the same I’m just adjusting the rewards po–“

“–not the same, eh? Wasn’t that the exact same thing that happened to you?”

“Sigh. Yes.”

“So you know exactly where those creators are coming from. And do they have someone like me enlightening them about censorship?”

“No. You’re right, I guess I can make peace with those complaints too.

Censor_240_Downvote.png

But some Hivers say downvoting is just bullying."

“And is it?”

“I don’t see it that way. But I guess it could be. I’m sure someone has used it that way. If me and a few whale-friends of mine don’t like someone we can downvote them, lower their rep score, reduce or nullify their earnings, and create a ‘black mark’ in the eyes of others. That kind of thing would be so oppressive and discouraging to someone pouring love into their work, I could see them being bullied into leaving Hive. But I would never do that!”

“Sure, but you know humanity. You know social dynamics. You understand about power more than most. So are you saying no bullies like that exist on Hive? Is it a utopian-magical-fairy-land where we can just pretend everything is ok, and no one is abusing their power?”

“Well, obviously not…

...but I'm not a bully, why are they yelling at me?"

“Think about it, you’re ‘big’ like a bully might be. You’re ‘powerful’ like a bully might be. You dish out ‘punishments’ like a bully might do. If it looks like a duck…”

“Geez! But what if I’m a robot, just in the shape of a duck? Or what if I’m a really nice girl in a duck costume?”

“So you’re expecting these people who don’t know you, who’ve probably had traumatic experiences with bullies, to be able to tell the difference between one powerful influencer who downvotes and another?”

“I mean, they really should be able to.”

“Even when they’re triggered and emotional?”

“Dang Dad, I guess not. Which means I guess I have to be okay with these complaints too?”

“Up to you, hon. You can handle it lots of ways get the (what are they called?) Hive Witnesses to address some of these issues with downvoting, Hive-culture, and user-education, or you can go on with your life with a better understanding of these complaints. I’m just doing my best to give some fatherly wisdom.”

“I know, and I appreciate it, thank you. Maybe I can make a post that teaches people to ‘take their lumps’ from downvotes, the same way they would on any platform.”

“That’s certainly an option, anything that smacks of censorship is going to upset people though, even if they’re educated about it. I taught you all about it, but I bet if the government decided Hive was illegal, you’d be furious that they use their power to take away your favorite platform.”

“I really would, even though I understand exactly how hierarchies and power structures work now. But downvotes aren’t censorship!”

“Aren’t they?”

Censor_245_Therapist.png

"Well, I can downvote all I want, but people's content still exists on the blockchain."

“Sure, and the government can ‘downvote weed’ all it wants, but marijuana still exists, and some still smoke it. Do you feel free as you do shady deals with your dealer and smoke under our back porch? Or do you feel your freedom restricted, and your enjoyment of plant-life censored?”

“The latter.”

“Exactly, censorship doesn’t only include ‘banning’ things or ‘deleting’ them from existence. It’s any form of suppressing another’s expression. That includes lowering their earnings or reputation, simply for expressing something you find offensive or undesirable or ‘over-rewarded.’ You feel censored even by things that aren’t ‘obviously’ censorship, because deep down, you know your freedom of expression is being pressured.”

“Right, but you said that will happen in any group, by the group leader, either through invisible shadow-politics or overt censorship. So…”

“So let’s say you’re at a party with Mia.”

“Oh, I get to hang around with the Queen Bee of the school!”

“Shush. Now, you girls bump into a group of people, and Sarah’s there too. Mia’s high status, Sarah’s low status. Sarah is about to share a funny story about Mia’s ex-boyfriend. It’s a hilarious tale and it’s gonna make the group happy. But Mia wants to bury this story. She doesn’t want it spoken out loud. So she uses her influence and social status. She gives Sarah a glare. Is this censorship?”

“Ummm… After everything I’ve learned here, I was sure I could answer this, but I honestly have no idea.”

"The answer is, it's attempted censorship. Can you tell me why?"

“I guess because Mia knows her power, and Mia has an agenda, and Mia’s agenda is to squelch Sarah’s natural expression… but since we don’t know if Sarah shuts up, we don’t know if it’s actual censorship that has succeeded, or a failed attempt at censorship. But c’mon, no one’s going to call a glare ‘censorship.'”

“No, they won’t, but only because they misunderstand influence, social dynamics, and natural-born freedom of expression. If they understood it, they’d realize so much of the world they live in is tiny, nuanced, subtle degrees of censorship that occur all the time in every group… ever. And that’s a good thing. It’s how society sticks together.”

“Right, otherwise every individual would ‘go their separate ways’ and group with nobody as they prioritized their freedom of hate-speech rather than be censored.”

“Haha, it’s an exaggeration, but yes. Censorship, whether invisble or overt, holds the group together and sets the boundaries of what the group finds acceptable.

15. OVERTON WINDOW

This is called the Overton Window."

“The what now?”

“Imagine a ruler. On one end you have extreme freedom of speech, even hate-speech and pedophilious tendencies are allowed. On the other end you have extreme censorship, literally nothing is allowed unless the King says it is, even breakfast conversation must be approved of. The Overton Window is the boundaries of acceptable possibilities on this ruler. No society is ‘OK’ with the extreme ends, but every society falls somewhere along the ruler, whether it’s narrow boundaries, or wide ones.”

“Ah, so on Hive downvoting spam and plagiarism is totally acceptable, downvoting with clear malicious intent is totally unacceptable, and Hive’s Overton Window (on the topic of censored content) is somewhere inbetween.”

“Exactly so.”

“So, like a glare from Mia, downvotes are an exercise of power, that may or may not become actual censorship?”

Censor_247_Overton_C.png

"Yep, but people get crazy about labels sometimes...

...especially if they see censorship as ‘bad’, rather than an acceptable part of every society that actually glues it together.”

“So maybe I just call them ‘downvotes.'”

“Yes, and you can even tell people ‘its not censorship’ if you don’t think they’re emotionally ready for the deeper truth.”

“OK, well speaking of copyright, can we look at YouTube’s thumbs-up / thumbs-down system?”

“Sure, what are you thinking?”

"Well, their users seem totally fine with downvotes."

“Yes but every single downvote on there is ‘equal’ and barely affects them unless they get thousands of them. And the downvotes have even less impact on their earnings. It sounds like just one downvote from a whale on Hive can be devastating, and that that same whale can actually spam downvotes on a target too.”

“All good points. I mean they do demonetize people for soooo many reasons, but I’m not sure downvotes was ever one of them. OK, never mind, Hive downvotes aren’t in the same league as YT downvotes, lol. A downvote from a whale is kind of like Obama trash-talking your content. Maybe that’s why some people want to put certain accounts in charge of downvoting.”

“Understandable, it’s common for a group of people to…

...create a 'police' whose job is to take care of punishments...

“Not really, everyone’s free to downvote how they want, whales included, but we do have @hivewatchers , which is kind of the seeds of what you’re saying.”

“It sounds like part of the issue for people is that money is involved?”

“Yeah, your examples show me that downvotes are ‘natural’ and present in every group, even offline ones that down have voting buttons, but those examples don’t factor money in like it is on Hive.”

“Ah but they do. Social capital is still capital. Money is just influence, and influence leads to power. Money that sits still, doing nothing… has minimal power. Money flowing & influencing others… has lots of power. Powerful people will use whatever influence they have to ‘glue’ a group together, even if to them that means using their money to get nude photos banned.”

“This sounds like a whole other discussion.”

“It is.”

“OK, let’s stay on topic, my point is that on Hive, some people upvote just to make money, and downvote just to lessen the earnings of others, which in turn makes their slice bigger. They don’t care at all about the content. It could be hate-speech and they’d still do it, so long as they earned more.”

“Yep, and lots of people vote for politicians simply because they’ll get paid more in the short term, or it makes welfare easier for them, or it’s ‘good for business’, and their justification goes no further than that.”

“God, that’s such a lame reason to vote on content.”

Censor_248_Police.png

"Well, that's their freedom of expression...

They don’t have to have ‘good reasons’ that you agree with. Wanna use your power to cut more into their freedom of expression? Because you’re free to do so. They get to do what they want, you get to do what you want, and both of you must face the consequences of doing so in a social structure.”

"So in most groups there are always people who do things for poor reasons."

“Yes, and there’s enough of them, they could downvote you into oblivion, calling your reasons ‘lame.'”

“Well that’s kind of the point of Hive. It’s supposed to leave the power in the hands of the users. Like, technically there’s more minnows and dolphins than whales, so if they don’t like something whales like me are doing, they can band together and outvote us.”

So if people don’t like things, they can all band together and downvote the whale. Anyone with voting power can challenge any vote, up or down. There’s not really any mechanical way of stopping the community from deciding to nullify any vote. If the opposition votes are strong enough it will be rendered ineffectual. – @tarazkp

“That’s the traditional understanding of democracy.

'Everyone has a vote' so everyone can change things...

…But what if a system is setup to make change near-impossible. Here’s a quote from academic Noam Chomsky.

“The beauty of the system, however, is that such dissent and inconvenient information are kept within bounds and at the margins, so that while their presence shows that the system is not monolithic, they are not large enough to interfere unduly with the domination of the official agenda.” – Noam Chomsky

In our society, the media have abandoned any attempt at unbiased, truthful reporting. They’ve become the tools of the whales, and they decide what ideas get visibility, and which get buried. Censorship rarely if ever happens to the powerful members of a tribe, it is something far more common to happen to the lower-status tribe members. Can you see a mirror of this in social media?”

“I guess whale-votes and the trending page determine what gets visible and what gets buried.”

“Yes, and the minnows will rarely, if ever, be able to self-organize and create an upset, revolution, or end up censoring the powers that be.”

“But it’s technically possible.”

“Sure, and it’s technically possible for someone like Nelson Mandela to come along and overturn apartheid. When a lot of power lies in the hands of a few people, an upset is always technically possible, but it’s better to examine the probability of it in a system that’s setup to minimize any chance of upset.

How does the law treat rich people? How does it treat the poor?

It’s ‘technically’ the same system, that totally benefits everyone equally… right?”

“Wow, this is a lot of food for thought.”

“Well, I want my girl to enjoy a full meal. Gotta leave satisfied!”

“So I can’t stop complaints, censorship is the glue of any society whether people realize it or not, and changing a system of concentrated power is unlikely. So what am I supposed to do?”

“You tell me, bumblebee. Hive, like any group, requires governance of some kind. Even though it’s decentralized by design, human power and influence always clumps up and never remains distributed. Maybe the power is concentrated into whales and witnesses right now, fine. But if you suddenly got rid of all of them, power would relocate to the ‘most popular’ authors, or ‘hackers’, or some other type of people on Hive. Just like if, god-forbid, I died in a car accident, your Mom would gain authority in the household.”

"Dad you know society is way past the 'man of the house' thing, right?"

“Yes love-bug, but for now, that’s our family’s current power-structure. You’re welcome to upset it if you like, don’t worry, I’m sure it will be easy since we’re all technically ‘equals.'” I stuck my tongue out at her.

“Ugh! You’re so bad.”

I grinned.

FIN.


THE LAST WORD?

People have been debating censorship & free expression for ages. What’s been said here is meant to get you thinking for yourself. It’s meant to give insight and guidance on an often murky subject that even our current best experts have trouble with. The best advice I can give about all this stuff is…

Relax.

Chill out.

Take a breath.

Downvotes aren’t death.

Nothing dramatic is going on here, especially if you understand group dynamics.

Would a system that was more focused on positivity and upvoting be better? Would putting downvotes in the hands of a select few vetted accounts be better? Would educating people on the power of their votes be better? What’s the right balance of censorship and free-expression for a society? Social groups have been dealing with these questions for hundreds of years and haven’t yet solved them.

Hive is a new social group just getting it’s footing. It’d be awesome if it triumphed where previous groups have not, but silly to expect it to do so. Hive may be a fit for you or it may not be, period.

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Keep in mind that social groups have always had:

a) power structures and b) Overton Windows. If a member plays near the edge of that window, they risk backlash. If a member plays outside of those boundaries, they’ll be cast out and have to find a place that suits them better.

Whether you’re part of a nation or a cluster of anarchists, your most important mission on earth is to be happy. To do what makes you happy.

Whether you’re a minnow, a whale, or something in between, the main thing is doing things that generate happiness for you. If you’re happy on Hive, great! If you’re unhappy posting here, apply yourself positively to change-making, or migrate to another group.

On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube there will be things they are comfortable publishing, and things they aren’t. But on those platforms, things can get outright deleted, no ifs, ands, or buts.

On Hive you can have your visibility lessened, but nothing's ever deleted.

Which do you prefer?”

“Well, I prefer Hive, that’s why I’m on it.”

“Bingo. Many people praise Hive’s decentralized structure as some sort of magic panacea for free-speech issues humanity has had since the beginning. It isn’t, expecting it to solve freedom of speech for humanity is a recipe for disappointment. What Hive is, is a new social media contender that may upset giants like Facebook or may leave the social arena bloody and battered.

And just like any social platform, on Hive you’ve the option to play nice and take your downvote lumps, raise your influence to change-maker levels, for to opt-out and find another group.

Nowhere in those options did I list complaining.

Because complaining is low-value and unlikely to generate happiness for you.

Navigating any social group is easier with emotional maturity. It’s easier with awareness of society’s boundaries. It’s easier with an understanding of power.

You can’t wave a magic wand and make Hive fit your idea of what it should be, but you can improve your own emotional maturity, your own awareness of it’s boundaries, and your own understandings of power.

Doing that is by far the most empowering thing you can do for yourself, and will significantly improve your experience on Hive.

Or just keep whining about repression, I guess.


This post was inspired by...

...Hivers with something to say about downvotes, censorship, etc.

This includes: @mynima * , @wedacoalition , @thoughts-in-time , @tarazkp , @rishi556 , @pharesim , @lucylin , and more.

I’m thankful for the pieces they wrote on this important topic, and I’ll link to them if you’d like to explore their take on things.

Short-Form Content Is Content
Free Speech, Dr. Mercola, & The Eugenisists
Content First In Cancel Culture
Curangel, Downvotes, And Hive
….At Least This Can’t Be Down Voted, Can It…
Powerful Dev Accounts Should Not Be Downvoting Content
Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Memes Of War
Also, *Mynima provided proof-reads and edits, along with @cynshineonline . I'm very grateful.

Also thanks to these image sites, they're great, highly recommended.

envato.com, canstockphoto.com, and dreamstime.com.

P.S. Our current social climate seems to be getting more extreme, more polarized, and more triggered.

I believe this guide can help soothe some of these things, because understanding, clarity, and critical thinking are an antidote to snap-judgment, assumptions, and misunderstanding.

Please consider sharing if it resonates with you.

And either way, thanks to all who read, comment, upvote, etc. I really appreciate you.

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