Ice Station Zebra

By David Glenn Cox

About two months ago, not that it Meta’s. I was charged and jailed with violating Facebook’s code of Community Standards. A friend of mine, we went to log high school together many, many years ago. He posted a pro-Trump article. And it wasn’t the article itself, it was the source of the article. One of those never heard of before “News” websites. “New Patriot Red Blooded God Fearing American News Front!”

That’s when I committed my crime and was sent to the Stalinist gulag without trial or appeal. I had been sent to Facebook jail once before. I had tried to tell a joke several years ago with a racial component on myself. I can see why I was busted in retrospect. But not this time. I didn’t say anything about nothing Mister.

I didn’t say anything about his race, his creed, or his national origin or even my own. Nothing about his religion or my own. I  didn’t say his wife was ugly, or he was ugly, or his kids were ugly, or I was ugly. I didn’t threaten violence or vengeance. I didn’t use any foul language you wouldn’t use in a church. No vulgarisms or obscenities of any kind.

However, in this wild and crazy world of ours. One of our most common retorts to one another in this hectic day-to-day life of ours becomes, “Are you crazy?” I bet; I’ve said it a million times to a million different people.

Now, I didn’t call him crazy, nor did I imply it might be a valid psychological diagnosis. I made a euphemism to suggest my friend of many years, might be intoxicated. Thus, clouding his judgment and altering his incorrect perception on the affairs of the day.

And to embellish my remark even further, and to hopefully add a humorous component that might bring a smile to his face.  I implied that he was apparently so wonderfully intoxicated. I asked, if he might have any of that green leafy that he might be willing to part with?

That’s it, I asked if he was Hi..? I had a friend of mine who used to say, “You must have bumped your head!” but I don’t think he was considering any real violence. I had another who used to ask, “You used to play a lot of football without a helmet, didn’t you?” A music friend accused me of playing in keys that weren’t even there.

And they all meant the same thing, The porch lights on but nobodies home. His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the penthouse. I think, he’s got toys in his attic! I think he’s playing cards with a deck of fifty one.

The substance in question is perfectly legal in 16 states and the territories around my house. And since my friend and I are thousands and thousands of miles apart, the Meta Blue Caps couldn’t possibly construe this as an attempted drug deal. Even Clearance Thomas can see there is no crime here. No hostility, no vulgarity, and no criminal intent.

My feed is throttled still. I was averaging 200 to 300 views a day. 600 views a day were not uncommon, and my record was 2,200 in a day. But now, I’m lucky to get a hundred views on a good day. But apparently, it isn’t the content that bothers them.

Because over on my website Facebook page (This Carbon-Based Life, shameless plug) I receive Facebook advertisements daily, promising me X amount of views for X amount of dollars. Now, just like life insurance.  X is only the per unit cost. How many units would you like to purchase there Dave, to receive X number of views?

The problem is my advertising budget is X – X= Y. And the few times I have tried advertising, it never once did the number of viewers promised, or even once reached close to the number of viewers paid for. So, let’s recap. Throttling my feed to somehow punish me for an imaginary crime, while at the same time offering to promote me and my website, if I bring enough money to the table. Al Capone used to smash the beer kegs and furniture, until you paid up.

You know, maybe I could find some lunatic billionaire somewhere, willing to finance me with millions and millions of dollars, just like Tucker Carlson’s website. Then I could hire people to help me sharpen my message and be more like everyone else, maybe wear a tie or get a haircut. Then maybe Facebook would love me again. And I could get corporate sponsors and sell merchandise!

That way, I could pay to advertise because the meager revenue I receive from my  website, wouldn’t begin to cover even a small Facebook advertising budget. Things are bad and times are tough, but maybe, if you pony up with the check…they could get a little better.

I don’t like thinking like that way, though it’s juvenile not to. These people are here to make money-stop, end of story. This is an organization that has run off many of the larger sponsors and ends up of with Feed and Bait store advertisements and crooked Russian video games.

But the alternative view is even worse, a soviet style gulag bootheel approach, “Go out and bring forth 4,000 warm bodies for Facebook jail. That way, we can prove our efficiency in fighting corruption and bullshit. “Whadda mean we aren’t doing enough to fight bullshit? We sent 4,000 people to jail, just yesterday! That’ll teach them! Damn scofflaws!” And next month, we might send six thousand or maybe ten thousand a day! We’re serious!

Groucho Marx maintained with his history for double entendre, that he could say absolutely anything about anything, and people ascribed a dirty meaning to it. I tried to appeal my sentence, not that it Meta’s much. But for some strange reason that function was temporarily out of order. But the window where they take the money was still working just fine. Sorry! The complaint department is out of order! Please see, the complaint department! (Ain’t that just the way though?)

The only reason it’s really stuck in my craw is that my remark was so innocuous, that it could have been anything at all. “How’s you sister Gracie? I sure would like some that canned ham! Have you been out in the garage again? I don’t think your garbage disposal is working properly! I think her bus is going to be late to the station.”

Chilling isn’t the word; ice station zebra is the word. Why any word might mean anything, and anything can mean anything. I thought of commenting only with semi-fore flags, or happy/sad, angry/questioning Emojis.

The brave new world of modern mass communication. Fahrenheit Four Forty-nine! You know this story must be true; they paid thousand of dollars to place it here. (“The Howl of the Wolf Movie; real stories of honest working people as told by rich, Hollywood stars!”) YouTube actually pays content creators for their work. Facebook wants to charge them for the privilege.

The Rush Limbaugh show (Long may he sizzle in hell) used a gimmick of selling internal commercials. Then offering the show for free to radio station programmers. Free programming was hard to refuse, especially in that big dead spot called mid-day. They gave the show away for free in hopes of building an audience.

Elon buys Twitter because he’s so smart. He wants to be this centuries William Randolph Hearst. To throttle mainstream opinion and steer it like a boat. To become the gatekeepers of the Internet and close off and tightly regulate the public opinion green spaces. Even at the detriment of their own business models. Because all opinions are equally valid, depending on how much money is behind them.

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