It is obvious that one butterfly flapping its wings somewhere on the planet is not going to change the weather. Such a thing is the proverbial gnat fart in a hurricane. That is how I feel when it comes to boycotting the big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google. What is my tiny effort going to do against their immense wealth and power?
But their immense wealth and power is the problem. Amazon is choking out America’s bookstores, publishers and retailers. Yes, they make lower prices for consumers but thinkers like writer, attorney and professor at Columbia Law School Tim Wu and Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, know that there is more to the dangers of monopoly power than price. This old investment professional is worried that there are only about half as many public small-cap companies as there were twenty years ago. I am worried that Google and Facebook are almost completely choking out journalism and the democratically critical Fourth Estate. Economy like ecology like democracy requires diversity to thrive and survive. We are starting to recognize that all this free and cheap internet service like Google, Facebook and Amazon offer is actually very expensive and diminishing.
One of my tiny efforts is to quit or at least cut way back on using the big-tech services. I am using DuckDuckGo to search instead of Google and Firefox instead of Chrome as my browser. I ended my Prime membership at Amazon. In fact I use Amazon to find interesting products and then search on DuckDuckGo to find other, more competitive ways to buy them. One of the tougher problems to lose is Facebook. At least it feels that way. For instance, I use Facebook to show my astro-photos and always get some appreciation for doing so. Those things take a lot of time to create and almost no one would see my work otherwise, but is it worth the cost?
I get that Facebook has such a lock on social media that even my favorite nonprofits like Torrey House Press cannot operate successfully without using them. But I don’t do anything for a living on Facebook or make any money from offering them my content. In fact, that is one of the problems. Facebook has managed to make a lot of money by providing free social media but also using content for free to make a large country worth of advertising income. Of course all that advertising costs money and comes out in prices, but we do not directly see that and don’t see how we are getting knifed. And now the big-techs are so big that if any competition pops up they simply use their $ billions to buy them. Ethically, therefore, I feel it behooves me to attempt to be as little part of their monopoly power as possible.
I am going to continue publishing my astrophotos here on Thots and Shots. Both as blog posts and in my gallery. But not on Facebook. Other thoughts which I might post on Facebook I will post here instead as well. I think about all my years before there was social media. If I wanted to communicate I wrote emails or grabbed the phone. Long before I wrote emails I posted letters. It worked great. It can still work now. This blog is still on the internet and can reach anyone. If even a handful of readers stop by, or even if they don’t, I am communicating just fine. All without aiding and abetting the big-tech monopolists.
There are other things we can and should do like buying locally and supporting enlightened local politicians. I will have more to say on that later.
Ironically, I am going to make a final Facebook entry to show this post and then try to sign off. If you somehow read this far, I would love to get any and all of your feedback on the comments link above.
In modern chaos theory, a butterfly flapping its wings can effect sensitive initial conditions, making a tiny change in a complex system, that results in a large difference later.
You never know.