When I was a boy way back in the latter half of the 1960’s, folks got their local news by reading their hometown newspaper. Your favorite AM radio station would keep you informed with major news headlines at the top of the hour, but if you really wanted to know what was going on in the country and around the world, you’d have to catch the nightly ten o’clock news on your black and white TV on ABC, NBC, or CBS. Other than the weekly and monthly magazines you could subscribe to or read at the public library, that was pretty much it.
When I peddled the Holdenville Daily News five days a week through the eight blocks of my hometown’s downtown for twenty cents per copy, half of which I got to keep, I figured there’d always be a need for boys to deliver the news to the inquiring crowds.
Was I ever wrong.
Talk radio became king for a while, then cable television introduced the 24-hour news cycle and claimed the throne. Newspaper subscriptions began tailing off, and with the arrival of the internet, digital summaries and instant reporting made many traditional newspapers and magazines obsolete.
And I’ll admit, I never saw it coming.
As I didn’t see the digital age coming, the current Lords of social media must not have considered the evolution of their own industry. If they had, surely they would have observed how the human desire for better and faster channels of communication produced the printed page, then electronic dots and dashes, then recorded voices, then audio transmitted by sound waves, then images shared over wires. They would have noticed the shift from print to radio to television to digital.
Had they been paying attention to their history, they would have noted how people always find new ways to communicate when dissatisfied with the options before them. But arrogance is a form of dementia that makes folks forget the primitive forums and platforms that created the foundation upon which they built their own lives. So when the emperors of Twitter and Facebook and their buddies decided to censor what ideas could and could not be shared on their lanes of Al Gore’s information superhighway, they kicked open the door for the creation of the world’s next major communication breakthrough. They may scoff at the idea that they could be knocked from the perch from which they manipulate the lesser humans existing beneath them, but history testifies that while they gloat, young visionaries in garages and college dorms are right now creating the technology that will allow free speech to thrive, unrestrained by uber rich technos who deem themselves worthy to tell the rest of us what to think.
Facebook and Twitter won’t go away. They’ll still be banking the big bucks. But despite what these self-appointed fact-checkers think, American’s are brilliant and they treasure their freedom. We’ve conquered more formidable foes than these. And we will find a way to be heard.