In life, there are good habits to adopt as early as possible. So, I have always respected the advice of the women around me regarding my skin care. Never go to bed without removing makeup. Moisturize the epidermis well every day. Protect yourself from the sun. The basic tips for delaying wrinkles and avoiding spots.
I also have my information ritual. It was in my twenties that I really started reading the newspapers that were paper at that time. Before, I thought it was too serious an adult hobby. But as a teenager, I leafed through The Montreal Journal, which my father bought every day for the Sports section and which he left on the table in the morning when I woke up well after him. At home, we didn’t like the paper format of The Presswhich some read like others are capable of folding a road map without swearing, and no one ever spoke of the Duty.
My in-laws subscribed to all the Montreal newspapers when I met their son 25 years ago, partly because my mother-in-law was a crossword fanatic. As I was at his house very often, I developed a taste for the strong coffee of the house and for the sound of the newspapers that the delivery men threw at the door at dawn. Reading the newspapers in the morning has strangely become a pleasure, despite all the bad news. Because in the evening, when I had supper with my chum and his parents, this fueled our best discussions.
I’m so bored of our bickering over the news.
Like everyone else, I migrated to digital, but my information ritual remains essentially the same: I start my days by reading the main newspapers in Quebec, a little from the United States and Europe, while tuning the radio to Paul Arcand or Patrick Masbourian depending on my mood, because I often prefer to enter into reality in the morning by silently reading the newspaper. I was born in the last century, and even in the last millennium.
After work, my chum and I prepare dinner while listening to Patrick Lagacé or catching up on podcasts and shows, and I don’t go to bed without watching the news. On weekends, I read my favorite monthly magazines and the new newsletter Dèyè Mòn Enfo from my friend, the journalist Étienne Côté-Paluck, who informs me about what is happening, good or bad, in Haiti. This collective of Haitian journalists is an initiative that I really want to encourage, because it is excellent, off the beaten track, so I paid the requested contribution of $60 for one year, because I want this view on the ground exists.
Through all of this, articles come to me via social networks, particularly when they are viral or relayed by users that I like to follow and who are good influencers, introducing me to new sources. But since it’s a bottomless pit, accompanied by a mess of misinformation and irresistible nonsense, I do everything to control the time I spend there. I have only one life to live.
Not fashionable, but in the know
It’s my job to keep informed, but I think I’d have the same routine if I were a florist. I loved it before being a journalist, I had this curiosity for public discussion and the desire to understand what was happening in this world. To be not in fashion, but in the know, as they say. I also believe that the majority of readers who write to me have similar habits, simply by the quality of their emails.
I use social networks mainly to stay in touch with those around me and my professional network – also to spy on artists who make announcements or scandals – but I avoid reading the comments under the articles, which are always a free-for-all. Over time, everyone develops their own digital hygiene.
All this to say that the blocking of news in Canada by Meta, in response to Bill C-18, does not greatly affect my information ritual, even if I can no longer share my texts. I’ve always been pretty bad at self-promotion anyway.
This is because I don’t really like to go there in the heat of the moment without knowing where the news comes from. I need an environment, several environments in fact, not to say an ecosystem. I want to see what a media outlet puts on the front page, its editorial choices, how it covers different aspects of society outside of the news, how it organizes chaos – or how sometimes it creates it. Because criticizing newspapers is part of the pleasure of reading them. There are journalists and columnists whose texts I don’t want to miss, who are appointments. I like the idea of a team working together to create this environment. And it still exists, even if media outlets are closing all over North America. Mainly on the outskirts of large centers, which is a tragedy, because it deepens divisions, and for too long.
But we’re not yet in North Korea, an analogy that paranoid people like to use when they don’t like content that contradicts their worldview, when just about every type of content was available until recently.
It is always possible to get information from the media source and freedom of the press is maintained, as far as I know.
However, I had major reservations about Meta’s boycott movement in support of the media on September 15. Even I couldn’t do it because I had to organize a birthday party and contact someone for an article. Lots of organizations and businesses only have social networks to reach the public, we cannot ask them to do without it.
The reason it’s so difficult to leave these platforms, even for just one day, is that they have become the diaries of our personal lives. I think my favorite feature on Facebook is “remember”, which reminds me of what I was doing five or ten years ago – I’ve been on Facebook since 2009, it’s starting to build up a lot of archives. Facebook is also a directory, classified ads, contact with family around the world, alerts about good shows in our city, groups where you can find your lost cat. Facebook has a lot of eggs in its one basket, which Meta protects by buying out all competition. This is its advantage, but it is also its danger, and all content producers should be aware of this.
Everyone, in fact, should be aware of this, because it is from our lives, which we handed to them on a silver platter, that they created the targeted advertising and that they are in the process of develop artificial intelligence without anyone having ever given informed consent to this.
Contrary to what we have heard a lot, we are not the products on these platforms: we are the primary resource. In this sense, this decision in Norway to prohibit invasive advertising targeted to users without their consent is more than interesting and has even been welcomed by Amnesty International1.
I believe that it is more the people who mainly get their information on Meta networks who will be bored by this blockage, perhaps even those who hate “merdias”, because we wonder how they will be able to share information. object of their hatred in this context. To something bad is good, this abrupt and forced stop gives us a break from the trolls who will perhaps devour each other, in the involuntary absence of their best enemies. However, my own mother is starting to find Facebook boring since she only sees photos of my dog, which she adores.
The weight of time
Even specialists in these issues do not really know where the standoff between the digital giants and the Canadian government will lead us. It is certain, however, that the experience of Meta users will be impoverished, as Jean-Hugues Roy, professor at the UQAM Media School, has pointed out in several interviews. We are seeing what happens, during the forest fires, the earthquake in Morocco or the catastrophic flood in Libya, the blocking of news. But if you ask me, this impoverishment started a few years ago. We forget something in all this: the first social networks have also aged. Facebook and X are almost 20 years old. In the absence of any legislation, they have acquired enormous power and governments are very late in regulating them, but they are not immune to a crisis either. Because in Europe, and soon in the United States, we finally want to tighten the screw.
Social networks will never disappear, they are an intimate part of our lives, we can no longer do without them, I even believe that they will be essential to the global challenges that await us, but nothing obliges us to frequent them in particular, these environments are not inevitable.
In truth, it’s been a while since younger people have migrated to other applications, while stars and journalists are increasingly fleeing X, which is no longer an agora in my opinion, but a circus where We observe users forming gangs to hit targets. I avoided this network long before it was bought by Elon Musk, because violence is in its DNA. Even Donald Trump, banned by Twitter and pardoned by Musk, is not coming back, having created his own social network.
Besides, the absurd fight that was to take place between Musk and Zuckerberg reminds me of the famous rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in the last century, only more idiotic. I don’t know what will ultimately calm these boys who have the world in their hands, but it’s about time the world responded, and not just with anger on their platforms, but rather with laws and taxes.
After 20 years, we have developed habits, if not addictions, and many people are ripe for changes or new platforms, like The Press got a digital makeover 10 years ago, and as I introduced retinol night cream into my beauty routine.
But more than ever, I need to maintain my rituals.