February 3, 2022

This is not about Brené Brown, Joe Rogan, or Spotify—it’s about the Future of Social Media.


What’s the difference between interesting titles and sharing misinformation?

“This headline is clickbait, which is disappointing for Elephant Journal.” ~ comment on Facebook.

“Terribly written with no substance.” ~ comment on Facebook.

Wow! I have to admit that these comments hurt sometimes. But I am open to feedback and would like to clarify a few things. So, thank you for criticizing my work.

Last week, I wrote several articles on the ongoing controversy around Spotify, Joe Rogan, and Neil Young. When Brené Brown announced to pause her podcast, I said to myself, “Our readers love Brené Brown, so why not write about that?”

At that time, we only knew that Brown paused her podcast. I came up with the title “Brené Brown joins Neil Young—who’s next to Leave Spotify?” A few hours later, I read the comments mentioned above.

So, what happened?

In my understanding, Brown paused her podcast because she wanted to have a conversation with Spotify about how to deal with misinformation on the platform. At the same time, there was a conversation on Twitter about who might be the next to leave Spotify. That conversation is not over yet, and other publications have also reported on this. So, what’s wrong with my title?

Later that day, several friends sent me Brown’s statement on this issue.

Brown clarified that she doesn’t want to censor anyone. That’s true. But she also said that she wanted to pause her podcast until the management of Spotify addresses the controversy. Again, I don’t see any misinformation in my article or headline.

After taking sides with Neil Young, I actually evolved my perspective. Partly because of all the feedback I received from readers. So, I wrote a follow-up article on Rogan—and accepted his apology.

Again, folks got pretty upset with me. But this time, it was a different crowd. First, I got accused of censorship, and now, I am accused of taking sides with Rogan.

This is an ongoing conversation. It’s far from being over yet. There will be consequences, and I am sure Spotify works on an official statement to address all of this.

And yes, it’s a huge story that questions our understanding of freedom of speech. It’s not about Rogan, Brown, or Young; this is about what we accept as an opinion and what we reject as misinformation.

What fascinates me the most is that we don’t talk about how to avoid outrage, potential censorship, and hate speech. Instead, we accuse each other of being wrong. Maybe I am wrong, maybe you are wrong, but it doesn’t help anyone at this point.

I am sorry if folks don’t appreciate my work. But there is no need to insult me. We can respectfully agree to disagree.

Brown, Rogan, and Young will figure out what’s best for them. I am thankful that we are having this conversation. But let’s take a different direction.

How do we avoid clickbait, sensationalism, and potential censorship?

The former CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, claims that the main reason for the current situation on social media is its dependency on advertisements. Dorsey believes that Bitcoin could solve this problem.

Wait, what?

The basic idea is that almost every content creator depends on advertisements these days. Some folks like Rogan and Brown have exclusive contracts with Spotify. So, guess who decides what’s allowed and what’s not? It’s the management of Spotify and those who pay for advertisements.

How surprising is it that a social media sh*tstorm has the power to cancel celebrities, politicians, or anyone else who sparks a controversy? We are talking about big money and folks who try to make the right decisions to make even more money. This is pure capitalism and, in my opinion, disrespectful toward the audience (us).

Why don’t we change the entire online game, as Dorsey suggests?

I am sick of influencers advertising the same products with different photoshopped images. I don’t want to see any more yoga teachers offering their coaching package. I would rather see content creators creating value for their audience. And I would also love to see the audience being willing to pay for what they enjoy.

Imagine sending a few cents to someone who wrote an article you enjoyed? How about paying a few cents for a song you love? And now, imagine what happens if billions (yes, billions) of people are able to do that?

Last year, Facebook (now Meta) had 2.89 billion monthly users. That’s the target group for their advertisements. That’s how they make their money.

But what if these almost three billion users were able to pay each other directly?

I believe that depending on advertisements slowly killed journalism. But it’s also our fault. Why don’t we subscribe to the news sources that we enjoy? Why do we hesitate to pay for what we read?

Back to the original topic of this article. I am sorry that my title upset so many of you. But it was also my most-read article this month. Maybe because of the title? I could have gone with “Brené Brown not sure what to do”—would you have clicked on that?

Probably not. Just like the article I wrote last week that was called “The Easiest Way to End (almost) all Wars.” It was a flop. Nobody cared. I was really sad, to be honest.

And there are so many good articles on the internet that don’t get the audience they deserve. But there are articles that always get a lot of attention; it’s usually when the title includes the names of celebrities. Whose fault is that? Is it even a problem?

Yes, it is. That’s what this article is about. It’s in our hands.

We decide what we click on. We decide what we pay for. We are all trying our best.

Elephant Journal is special. We are indie media. Our authors and editors are allowed to share their truth. There is no censorship. But we also need readers and subscribers to survive.

If there was more indie media, we wouldn’t have to deal with any of this.

Why can’t we have 1,000 podcasters making 100,000 dollars instead of one man making 100 million dollars? Why can’t we decentralize the revenue streams and avoid the game of “who gets into which sh*tstorm and loses which sponsor?”

It’s a long way to go. I am looking forward to the upcoming announcements of Dorsey. I will write about it. Will you read it?

And for those who are still mad at me, or got even more upset by reading this. That’s fine. We can agree to disagree.

But as an author, I will say this, “Behind every article, there is a person who decided to share their voice with the world. Let’s try not to hurt these people or those who enable them to publish their work. The world needs more of that, not less.”

May it be of benefit.

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