Exclusive: The Social Network

We Ignore It At Our Peril

By David Codrea

Moms Demand Action held a meeting at a church recently with a local politician, a state rep and a police chief. They were there to advance ways they can work in concert to enact new citizen disarmament laws. The media was there and covered the event in detail, complete with a photo showing two smirking “Moms” in their hunter orange shirts.

It’s not important to reveal where this took place because the point is not to single anyone out, but the fact remains: No gun owners or gun group representatives were present. They didn’t know about the meeting.

That’s because the only place one could find out would be the local MDA chapter’s Facebook page. There they gave everyone paying attention an advance heads up that included who, what, where, when and why. “Our side” never saw it.

The sad fact is, many gun owner rights organizations and their members are squandering valuable resources by not stepping up information gathering and outreach efforts using so-called social media. Many gun owners flat-out tell me they refuse to, and cite reasons from it being a waste of time, an invasion of privacy and a way to further enrich anti-gun oligarchs, elites trying to censor “conservative” thought, especially about guns, out of existence.

Sure, it will be a waste of time if you let it be and as for giving tech giants too much information, just don’t. I use platforms like Facebook and Twitter exclusively to promote my articles and share links that I think readers ought to be aware of to help with advocacy efforts.

Resistant gun owners who don’t use them are literally squandering opportunities and ceding an ideological battlefield to committed opponents that use social media quite effectively to coordinate and bring about the change they want. There’s a military term, C3I, that stands for “Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence,” and that’s really quite appropriate here. That’s because, by working with others, we can employ social media to effect or enhance all four capabilities.

Turning our noses up and not wanting to be bothered with details in an ideological conflict is intentionally putting on blinders. It’s like soldiers on the battlefield not wanting to know about enemy positions, capabilities, movements and logistics. In wartime, people die to obtain such information and people die from the lack of it.

Is that too extreme? What is the Second Amendment ultimately about? What could happen if domestic enemies are allowed to impose widespread citizen disarmament? Does anybody seeing all the unprecedented-in-our-lifetimes divisions and the hatreds coming to the fore in daily headlines really think we are immune to forces of history, forces that resulted in the codification of the right to keep and bear arms as fundamental and essential?

Despite that reminder of reality, we have a significant percentage of nonetheless strongly-opinionated gun owners who not only don’t care, but disparage and discourage the collection and dissemination of virtual information. Since when is that a winning strategy?

These resistant rights advocates who refuse to acknowledge the valuable tool social media can be are hurting themselves (and all of us) in two big ways: First, they’re cutting themselves off from vital intelligence. Second, they‘re allowing their adversaries the unopposed use and mastery of cutting-edge weapons they refuse to even pick up, let alone practice and become skilled with.

Then there’s the reality that “progressive” media gatekeepers are promulgators of “anti-gun” propaganda, both editorially, and in ostensibly “straight news” that is rife with ignorance and lies of commission and omission. If we want our voices to be heard, they’re not about to help us. That means in most cases we’re on our own. Social media helps us go over, around, under or through them. If we refuse to do that we’ll be out-communicated and outmaneuvered.

It’s true, billionaires running near-monopolies like Twitter and Facebook seem to be pulling out all the stops to block information that is vital to gun owner rights. In doing so they are closing off ways that help us bypass the media gatekeepers. But we can still exploit these platforms by crafting our messages to not trigger algorithms and moderators. Also, as those who would shut off all thought but theirs tighten the screws, activists are finding alternatives like Gab. (Just note that because it does not presume to shut down all free speech, even the kind you or I might find offensive, it’s smeared by “progressives” as a haven for haters in order to scare people away.)

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re serious about effective activism, very few of us can do it and ignore social media. Just think of it as advocacy media. We should all be on it and we should all use it to share information we get value from—stuff like pending bills, to contact legislators (they all have accounts), to alert our friends to things like that one-sided meeting, and to share articles we think will help educate and are needed to correct media disinformation.

While you’re at it, you can hook up with GUNS Magazine and its sister publications by following @fmgpubs on Twitter and going to FMGPublications on Facebook.

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