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Hail the Whale that is Spoutible. A Conscious Social Media Platform?
I was an idiot. Or maybe just naive. Or innocently unaware or woefully uninformed but whatever it was, I was gobsmacked when the likes of Facebook — and every major social media platform created since — traded on its new-consciousness-sounding promises of making manifest that crazy idea that we are all connected. We’re talking circa 2008. They promised that everyday folks like me would be connected to everyday folks all over the world sharing information and knowledge about every subject under the sun, an inter-connected global extravaganza of human interaction. Thank you, internet!
At last, the day came when I could roam freely on Facebook, specifically, as my “brand,” Spiritual Workout, and I pounced. My strategy was simple and it worked. With maybe 15-20 minutes a day of responding to people with a Spiritual Workout perspective, if/when warranted, I garnered a few thousand “followers” who appreciated what I said. Organic. Easy. Fun. Then, thwack! I posted something and was informed that about a dozen or so of more than 3,500 people who’d already raised their hands and said yes, please, tell me when this guy posts something actually saw my post. Say what now? Paywall? Those followers are where? I paid to “boost” those posts to reach more of them. I became a bona fide advertiser who was thwarted immediately and repeatedly with accusations of profanity in my ads. Profanity! There was no profanity. Algorithm messed up. There was no customer service, either. There was no place for someone like me who didn’t already have a lot of connections to actually make them. Ironic, I thought, and it was the same, ultimately, on Twitter. And then LinkedIn. And YouTube. And Medium. And Instagram. Same here, even, on Substack, though I have access to a plethora of tools I can employ to help me do what I have no business doing — growing an audience for conscious politics. But that’s just me and I can do that or I can write, so...
Nowhere could I seem to connect with like-minded, like-spirited people that I wasn’t already connected to. Everywhere I was flooded with information that was irrelevant to me. Everywhere I was dragged through ever-changing ecosystems in ways that pissed me off and frustrated me no end. I was digital roadkill left to rot in the ditches of cyberspace, those promises of level playing fields and global connections traded by who I thought were new-consciousness entrepreneurs for old-consciousness investors — and their demands for quick, stratospheric financial profit. Unconscious capitalism. As I wrote in 2017, this clog of energy between new-consciousness entrepreneurial vision and old-consciousness investor how-to has made social media suck for most anyone not willing to invest their precious time and energy in mastering ever-changing online ecosystems, rules and regulations, rhythms and algorithms. Please.
“…no one should have to accept abuse or targeted harassment on social media platforms….”
Along with the funding to fuel massive scaling of these companies’ platforms came trolls and bots and hate and bullies and misinformation and disinformation. The new companies claimed they weren’t really media companies. They made hay of “Section 230,” everybody who could abdicated responsibility like it was a hot potato, some companies didn’t even enforce their own policies and, voila! An insurrection on January 6, 2021 fueled largely by misinformation and disinformation and hate on social media platforms. I had been deep into keeping my head down, writing and publishing this newsletter every week and relying on Twitter to help connect to others — still to no avail. They can’t hear you screaming from the digital ditches.
At this point, a man called Christopher Bouzy was two years or so into running his creation, Bot Sentinel, “to help fight disinformation and targeted harassment” on Twitter, specifically. I knew nothing about it but somewhere during the last several months of endeavoring to find/build an audience for conscious politics, Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter went through and it was no longer a place I wanted to be. But Bouzy was now talking — right there on Twitter, ironically — about building what I’ll call a brand new Twitter, from scratch, without the bullshit. As he said in his most recent email:
“…no one should have to accept abuse or targeted harassment on social media platforms. These types of behaviors are unacceptable and can have severe consequences for the individuals targeted. Social media companies have a responsibility to create and enforce policies that protect users from abuse and harassment. We want to empower our users and provide them with the tools to limit abusive behavior. It's important to take care of yourself and limit exposure to harmful content.”
And he reminded users of this:
“Bot Sentinel powers Spoutible, and Bot Sentinel is a community-funded project. Neither VCs nor billionaires are funding Spoutible’s development; ordinary people are. If you want to help Bot Sentinel and Spoutible, please consider contributing $5 today.”
Users are cheering for this man and his team to succeed. This spout is typical:
“I can only imagine how hard the @Spoutible team is working to prepare for the full launch. Please remember to be kind and gracious through this process. What they are trying to provide the world of social media is revolutionary - and sorely needed!”
Also typical, only nine days in, while the site was still pretty janky:
“I must say, Spoutible handled the Superbowl traffic flawlessly for me, really impressed with stability improvements, really fun evening. Thanks!”
I don’t know if this is conscious business by design or not and I’ll revel in interviewing Bouzy about that some day, but it sure looks and acts like one. Its intention is shiny, clear — and compassionate. As one writer put it, “Spoutible is a Twitter do-over, run by a human being who actually cares about having a positive effect on society…” It polled potential users again and again about what they’d like to see on the site. It serves a public need. In fewer than three weeks it has responded to a litany of user suggestions. It’s taking responsibility. It’s transparent.
Every encounter I’ve had with another user has been respectful and positive. So I’m going to ride this #FirstWave of newfound online optimism for all it’s worth and I invite you to come on in…the water’s fine. And if you’re looking for me, here I am.
NOTE: The next Conscious Politics Free Monthly Training is this Tuesday, February 21 at 5:00pm Pacific / 8:00pm Eastern. CLICK HERE to sign up.
NOTE: While I was taking time off from publishing this newsletter, I managed to re-launch the website for Spiritual Workout. Finally, everything is under one roof. There’s a lot there, but I am specifically eager right now to welcome people who have been seeking quality counseling online and haven’t otherwise been able to find it — for $50/month. I hope you’ll check it out and share news of it with anyone you know who’s looking.