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Banning TikTok Misses the Mark
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So enamored am I of the intersection of politics and business that I couldn’t resist walking down TikTok Way this past week, what with all the hoopla about its chairman testifying before the Energy and Commerce Committee in our U.S. House of Representatives. That hearing occurred at a time when we’re reaching something of a fever pitch about whether or not our federal government should ban the app from being used in our country — largely for “national security reasons” but also for its impact on kids and alleged connections to China’s Communist Party. Stuff like that there.
What I got was a massive dose of unconscious business and unconscious government. The antidote to that display, of course, would be conscious versions of each wherein all players take responsibility not only for choosing to believe/knowing that we create the realities in which we live but also for being careful with our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions because of the ramifications they have on everyone and everything. As Chief Seattle said, “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” We are all connected and all. So I walked away from that hearing with some top-line thoughts and ideas about how conscious businesspeople and conscious politics practitioners might approach the issues currently focused upon the entity that is TikTok.
The very notion of ban is inconsistent, first of all, with the fact that everything is energy, which cannot be created or destroyed. That’s just physics, people, so the action/activity of a ban is really nothing more than a giant game of whack-a-mole: ban books in Republican-led states and here comes Books Unbanned from the Brooklyn Public Library, giving teens anywhere in America with a device and an internet connection ready access to each and every otherwise-banned book with a shiny, new e-library card. So in a world where everything is energy, what, really, is the meaning of ban — in this or any instance?
Moreover, banning something is a statement of what’s not wanted. Fair enough. But a far more conscious House Energy and Commerce Committee would then be about the business of investigating whatever it is we do want with regard to social media writ large, its impact on society, and, specifically, on kids. It would be about the business of clearly articulating and building consensus support within the citizenry for its vision and ideas because as every conscious politics practitioner knows, the law of attraction is always on so focusing our attention on our intention, on what we actually want, is of paramount importance. TikTok is a perfect place to start such an investigation because, without a doubt, millions of people are having wonderful experiences on the platform every minute of every hour of every day. The creativity! The connections! The love! The healing! Where on TikTok are these experiences thriving and who is having them? How are they different from the ones who are being exploited and whose mental health is deteriorating? What fruits might a congressional inquiry produce if it set its sights (intention, intention, intention) on where and how government can act to, essentially, maximize user/society experiences and minimize or eliminate everything that doesn’t comport with that? What would a company that ascribes to conscious capitalism do to make a business out of that, instead of a business that intends, above all else, to squeeze every possible dollar of profit for profit’s sake while, using its users as pawns? (I recently wrote about how this is happening now as Spoutible looks to replace Twitter.)
TikTok is a perfect place to start such an investigation because, without a doubt, millions of people are having wonderful experiences on the platform every minute of every hour of every day.
And what of compassion? How debased have our politics and corporate fealty become that we are striving, it seems, to “increase child safety” on TikTok (and other apps) vs. creating apps wherein child safety is the foundation upon which everything else happens? I caught an interview on MSNBC the day before last week’s hearing with FCC commissioner and TikTok ban supporter Brendan Carr. He talked about a “study from the New York Times about a month ago looking at TikTok accounts of 13-year-old girls on TikTok that showed they’re being shown self-harm, eating disorder-related content within minutes of those accounts being set up then flash forward to [the version of TikTok used in China]…it’s showing those kids education material, museum exhibits, science experiments…” Good gawd. If compassion were our raison d’etre — as it is and will be in the new consciousness — children would never be harmed by a business period end of sentence.
Further, banning TikTok for any or all of the purported reasons implies that the complaints about TikTok are limited to that platform when everybody knows that, in actual reality, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and most of the rest might be accused of the exact same things. Banning TikTok, then, looks a lot like denying reality, the antithesis of what it means to be present wherein we accept everything as it is and go from there.
Finally, could we beef up our willingness to take some freaking responsibility? Please? As a society? As a government? As businesses? Let’s first take responsibility for having created this mess in the first place and I’m available to conduct a few hearings on that. Let’s also take responsibility for beefing up cybersecurity writ large in America according to our values, experts, and the times in which we live. Let’s take responsibility for catching up to peer countries by getting much more serious about data privacy in our country. Let’s take responsibility for imposing accountability on (instead of fearing) Silicon Valley behemoths — accountability they have largely avoided to date — for harm caused on their platforms. That all feels a lot more productive, but that’s just me.
And guess what? When we take responsibility for cybersecurity in our country, TikTok and whatever’s going to come in its wake will be stymied if it tries to mess with us.
NOTE: It looks like this piece wound up utilizing seven of the 15 concepts that are the basis of this work. Lest anyone think I’m just playing willy-nilly in these pages, here are all of them, offered as a refresher:
Be Compassionate • Beliefs Matter • Be Present • Choices Abound • Everything Is Energy • Have an Attitude of Gratitude • Intentions Matter • Judgments Separate Us • Listen to Inspiration • Mind & Body Are Connected • Take Responsibility • The Law of Attraction Is Always On • We Are All Connected • We Are Here for a Reason • We Belong to the Planet, Not the Planet to Us