Facebook has failed miserably in being a trauma informed social media platform.
Not that that was ever their mission, nor that they even care at all about the essence of being human. But they do understand that essence. They do know how we as humans are wired, the wholeness of humans, and how we relate.
They have never had any intention whatsoever of being trauma sensitive. They know how we are wired to always be on the lookout for danger, being wired for fight, or for flight when perceived to be in a dangerous situation. Trauma informed care is based on the understanding that many people have suffered a traumatic experience. Care is provided approaching all as if they have a trauma history, regardless of their primary reason for needing care.
We are living in a collective trauma. A collective trauma we have been born into, inheriting unintegrated trauma through generations of ancestors. As healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and public health programs are developing and implementing trauma informed care practices, all patients, students, and recipients of community programs, are treated and cared for as having had a traumatic experience.
Facebook has actually capitalized on our humanness, to the point of what Tristan Harris describes as “human degradation"
I was fortunate to attend a workshop in July 2019, where Tristan was one of the speakers. The workshop took place in Germany. I was attending virtually, and Tristan was presenting virtually as well. It was mind boggling, listening to Tristan speak into the way Facebook was created, and designed on the way the human brain and nervous system is wired to seek relationship, while always on the look out for danger. Facebook is designed to react, manipulate, and instigate anger and polarization. Anger is high in the algorithm on what gets shares, likes, and comments.
The need for social acceptance drives humans to adapt toxic behaviors we see others using online. I have had to pause many times when I have been triggered to respond to a post that was very much a surprise, coming from someone that I know well. That is not how they would normally behave. Many posts are in my saved files to read over, and respond to later, rather than react in that moment. My later response typically is not to respond at all, with a breath of gratitude that I took that pause and checked in with myself. Recent weeks have been times of intense restless, fear, anger, and feelings of being manipulated. Discovering censorship on Facebook is very real. The political manipulation is very real. Seeing only posts that Facebook decides that I see, receiving information that Facebook decides I need to know, and the repetitive (sharing) of posts intentionally designed to activate anger and fear, resulting in reacting and reposting and more reacting to the reactions. This is the engagement for which Facebook is designed.
Many folks have shared with me the need to take a break from Facebook, to re-regulate their nervous system. For their health and the health of family, to practice breathing and meditation, to practice calming and presencing. They have shared it just feels better. I have experienced what I have never experienced before. Posts that have been taken down, fact checking, and in my trauma recovery group, with me being administrator, posts that I had not seen were taken down.
Know that there are options. Explore those options.
Human attention is valuable.
Tristan Harris has spent a decade understanding the invisible influences that hijack human thinking and action. Tech platforms make billions of dollars keeping us clicking, scrolling, and sharing. “Just like a tree is worth more as lumber and a whale is worth more dead than alive – in the attention extraction economy a human is worth more when are depressed, outraged, polarized, and addicted,” Tristan Harris.
Human attention is therefore valuable. Organizations are going to great lengths to get the attention of a potential customer or voter. Tristan believes many technology companies have gone too far. They are tapping into base desires and fears hardwired into our primitive animal brains. The result is what he calls “human degradation”, leading to political polarization, among other concerns the world is experiencing.
As Tristan expresses so well and with such clarity – “This attention extraction economy is accelerating the mass degradation of our collective capacity to solve global threats, from pandemics to inequality to climate change. If we can’t make sense of the world while making ever more consequential choices, a growing ledger of harms will destroy the future of our children, democracy and truth itself.”
Explore options. An excellent place to begin exploring is the Center for Human Technology, www.humanetech.com