Frances Haugen’s revelations are shocking, yet unsurprising, at best in their level of detail. For a long time, the particular priorities and mechanisms of the Facebook corporation have been criticised. “Hate sells” is the sad but realistic conclusion.
However, I think it is too easy to put all the blame on the company. For in doing so, we have merely named a scapegoat on whose account we can, relieved and sighing loudly, at least partially blame the social division in the whole world. At the same time, however, we duck our own responsibility as users and avoid having to look at our own noses.
What is needed now is for all responsible users of the generation that has experienced a time without the internet not to simply bury their heads in the digital quicksand and “let the digital natives have a go”, just because they themselves sometimes feel awkward with the media that are actually no longer new at all. Media competence does not only mean having checked out the hottest apps and links in the shortest possible time, but also mastering the open-ended research of facts. It also means expressing oneself in an appreciative and respectful manner in all forms of communication.
Exchanging different opinions while remaining polite is not a contradiction in terms. That is why we are also called upon to demonstrate this attitude clearly and unambiguously in our daily writing, posting and commenting on the internet and thus take the wind out of the sails of the polarising algorithms.
We have sometimes lost our handrail with the rapid development of the virtual world and possibilities. This causes us to stagger more often and differently than we are used to, and this unsettles us. But this situation should not frighten us, but rather strengthen the social discussion on appropriate official guidelines so that we learn to deal with it more confidently. Who knows, maybe this is the hour of the churches, whose continuing membership decline is regularly reported? We need to fill a hole so that we don’t have the feeling of being swallowed up by it. To find answers so that questions are taken seriously instead of feeding aggression. To suggest ways forward instead of grumbling about disorientation. It is uncomfortable, but essential: Every member of the community can and should contribute something themselves to ensure that the immense benefits of the digital age outweigh the disadvantages for all of us.
Stefanie Maak, Bonn