Annie Peterson | Civil Patriot

Several months ago, I read a fascinating book by Hyeonseo Lee titled The Girl with Seven Names. In the book Lee chronicles her story of growing up in N. Korea, where she (like millions of others) was trapped by a brutal communist regime. Living on the border stirred the temptation to see what life was like on the other side of her government-imposed restrictions. Did people experience a different sort of life elsewhere, one where they were free to choose for themselves? 

At the age of seventeen she decided to risk everything and escape across the river. What she found on the other side of her confines changed her life forever and caused her to question everything she had ever known or believed. 

“Leaving North Korea is not like leaving any other country. It is more like leaving another universe. I will never truly be free of its gravity, no matter how far I journey.”
― Hyeonseo Lee

Photo courtesy @rosssneddon

Once you’ve been set free from something as extreme as communism, shackles fall and you can see clearly. And, once your vision is intact, it’s impossible to return to your former dictator. Why would you rush back into the arms of the one who stole your rights and forced you to comply with no thought to your wants or wishes?  

That’s where we are with social media, folks. We started out free. We laughed. We played. We shared our hearts and posted our fears. We felt a true camaraderie. On those platforms it didn’t matter if we were rich or poor, male or female, tall or short, chubby or thin. All that mattered were our words. We shared freely, and with great joy. 

Then came Trump. 

From the moment he took office, we felt the reins tighten on our favorite social media platforms. We were told that many of our posts were questionable, particularly if they aligned with his policies. Pretty soon, half of what we were trying to post was flagged as disinformation. And, because we knew Russian bots were a real thing, we complied. No point in spreading fake news, after all. 

Before long everything positive we might want to say about our president was hidden, thanks to fancy algorithms. And anything that didn’t match the liberal narrative would cause our posts to be flagged as fake news. On top of all that, these platforms became a breeding ground for trolls who scrolled the newsfeed, ready to pick a fight—often with total strangers. They lived to cause trouble, which just got us into a bigger mess with the powerful men overseeing our words. 

Suddenly, social media platforms weren’t as fun anymore. We felt like kids in school, always getting slaps on the wrist by our new owners. We began to question ourselves, but went along with those in charge. We were, after all, on their platforms. We were visitors in their home. Right? 

After a while, we simply couldn’t take it anymore. We were like Hyeonseo Lee, staring across the river, wishing for the freedom to live a different kind of life. So, we fled. We went to Parler, to Gab, and to MeWe. We rushed to Rumble, Bitchute, and UgeTube. We began to seek out safe places to live a shackle-free life. And once we crossed that river, once we experienced the joy of free expression once more, we knew that dictatorship would never play a role in our lives again. 

Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
Tony Blair

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