Social Media Re-think

December 04, 2019 | Filed under: personal development

I’ve been on the internet since 14,400 baud modems. I’ve had this blog for a stupid length of time. I was on facebook and twitter *fairly* early. I remember IRC, I remember ICQ, I remember AOL. I remember the sounds modems made. I remember usenet newsgroups, and excite, lycos and alta vista.

The internet has never been as inhospitable as it is now. Its never been this toxic, this abusive, this unusable. Yes, I include usenet and IRC in that.

Three of the people responsible are Jack Dorsey (twitter) Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Evan Speigel (Snapchat). There are others. They are mostly identical copies of each other, showing laughably little diversity. The people behind all this are white, straight, male billionaires. Why do I mention this?

Because ironically, the white, male, straight billionaires have weaponized ‘identity politics’ and similar topics to make more and more and more money. They are well aware that the way our brains work funnel anger and fear directly to us before our reasoning system even kicks in (an evolutionary advantage, now turned against us). The BEST way to get people to keep communicating and ‘engaging’ is to use hatred and fear. Nothing else works so well.

Social media’s business model is based on ads, marketed to people who are ‘engaged’ and always on the site. What drives more ad impressions? hatred and fear, hatred and fear, hatred and fear.

Constructive debate doesn’t sell newspapers and it doesn’t sell ads either. Every time you get dragged into a heated online argument or hate mob, or get talked into retweeting some angry aggressive hashtag deriding people as communist scum, or fascist bastards, or white-supremacist racists, or what ever other extreme hyperbole we can dream up… you are being whipped into doing this to make 3 white male billionaires more money.

Identity politics and ‘woke’ politics is PERFECT for this. What could possibly cause more hatred, anger and fear than making sure everyone is pigeon-holed into smaller and smaller and smaller and more rigidly defined groups. That way more and more people are OUTSIDE your group. The best thing would be for you to cram hashtags into every post, to ‘trigger’ as many people as possible, and stick as many identity politics terms on your Facebook or twitter profile as possible, to annoy as many people as you can. Make sure you update your Facebook profile to signal the latest opinion on topic X. You CANNOT possibly be a fan of David Bowie without changing your profile pic when he died, otherwise how would other people KNOW you liked David Bowie! the horror! Quick! fill out your profile even more, do you like THIS album? did you watch THIS movie…

People are being railroaded and goaded into sticking their politics and their sexuality and their innermost thoughts right into the faces of EVERYONE they meet, so we can all form instant judgments and hate each other even more to keep those white male billionaires in yachts and private jets. Keep arguing kids! keep being angry! you don’t know what people are angry about TODAY? oh my god…here is WHATS TRENDING NOW. (almost certainly not really whats ‘trending’, but what creates the most ‘engagement’, meaning anger, meaning ad revenue…).

Fuck it, I’m done playing this game. This year I left a mailing list for games dev I’ve been in for year. I closed my account at a forum I’ve been on for decades. I deleted 20 years of posts on one private forum. yesterday I nuked 75% of my facebook ‘friends’. I don’t fucking care if you are angry at Donald trump or Jeremy Corbyn, or you support the first amendment, or the second amendment, or you are white or black, or gay/str8/cis/nonbinary whatever.

Frankly unless I want to have sex with you what the fuck do I care about your sexual preference? Unless we are picking a restaurant together what the fuck do I care about your diet? Can’t we just get along without sticking ourselves in these stupid-as-fuck boxes? I don’t know if my next door neighbor is gay or straight or bi, or whether they support legalizing drugs, or if they voted conservative. We get along fine, it hasn’t come up, why WOULD it come up?

I’m keeping my blog. I may blog more and tweet less. I own this blog, its on my server, I can moderate and delete comments by abusive people, and only people who know me/my games read it, which is fine. I see little value in having arguments with random maniacs on the internet. I’m also keeping twitter because I find it occasionally quite funny, but I plan to tweet way less.

I’m less angry in person than online. SO many times I meet people and they tell me I’m not what ‘they expected’. Social media enrages us all, weaponizes us all to spread lies, fake news and the more extreme opinions as possible. Its bullshit and we should all do our best to stop dancing to the tune of three white male str8 billionaires who don’t care how much damage they do.

15 Responses to “Social Media Re-think”

  1. Chris says:

    I agree with you on just about everything you said. I hope we can fix this mess, but as you pointed out, as long as rage is profitable things won’t change any time soon.

  2. Harris says:

    I think its a case of familiarity breeds contempt. Social media brings people together who have been separated by thousands of miles of geography and hundreds of years, and they are finding they don’t like each other very much.

    TBH I’ve been expecting the USA to break out in civil war since 2008, based on how horrible they all are to each other online. If someone invented a way for Americans to get at each other through their computer screens, it would kick off the very next day.

    I don’t know what we can do about it other than join a Seasedding community or run away to outer space. Getting off social media won’t help when the whole world goes bananas..

    P.S. If you read a book called American Nations by Colin Woodard you will see that America isn’t one country, it is 11 cultures who have been in a war for dominace with each other, since they fought the British Empire for Indepence. In America a person’s politics is all about where they come from.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11140803-american-nations

  3. Good for you. I left Facebook a while ago for similar reasons. I’m still on Twitter. I do like to think there’s value in social media but I also agree with your analysis of a terrible incentive structure and resulting toxic environment. Sad to lose the more measured and reasonable voices like your own.

  4. El Skilak says:

    You are right about the problem, but wrong about the cause.

    Man is tribal. This is a scientifically accepted fact. Thus people forming tribes (based on religion, or other identities) should not come as surprise.

    What has changed is the bedrock, the principle behind these societies and tribes. The new principle, pioneered by Karl Marx and nurtured into a infectious, diseased, poison tree is:

    Weaponized victim-hood.

    My life is unhappy because of an imaginary enemy. That may be ‘the bourgeois’ of Karl Marx, or the Patriarchy of feminism.

    These are convenient enemies as they can never be defeated, simply because they never existed in the first place! They allow you to avoid responsibility of your actions: your life is sad because of Patriarchy! This causes resentment to fester against others, which is why the ‘woke’ communities are super toxic.

    And as has been well documented, online communities become hostile and unhospitable unless actively moderated. This naturally applies to twitter and facebook, which is full of leftists, liberals, and feminists, and is not moderated…

    QED.

  5. cliffski says:

    already had to delete one comment from someone who totally misread my post. Why even bother. For the record, nobody reading this has any idea if I am gay, bi, str8, or trans, and no idea what my childhood was like. Nor do I feel like I need to explain or discuss that with any random internet user who cant even come up with a username… *sigh*.

    • Mike G says:

      Ha man should had left it… It was exactly what you wrote about!

    • emmy says:

      actually a lot of people reading this know exactly what your sexuality is lol.

      On the one hand I agree that narrowing people down into tiny categories can fuel division, and that SCREAMING at each other accomplishes nothing.

      On the other hand, a certain amount of visibility is actually important so that people accept each other as normal. It’s a huge problem if people are only allowed to talk about their opposite-sex spouses, but mentioning the existence of a same-sex partner is suddenly shocking and perverting children and politicising discourse and blah blah blah.

      We need to be able to mention things casually and then go on with our lives. “What church do you go to?” “Actually I’m Jewish.” “Oh, cool.” and carry on. No rage needed on either side.

      Knowing that disabled people exist is important in understanding why they need accommodations and support.

      Knowing that poor people exist massively affects politics. Etc.

      But a lot of people are so caught up in trying to find a good fight to martyr themselves in that they can’t talk about things without screaming.

  6. Mike G says:

    Social media is worse then the TV news.
    A mental illness validation hive.
    Good post…. Great blogger

    Anonymous OK… Take your activism where it matters… as you said countries that kill people for just being gay.

    Your projecting a lot there… what anger?
    Not caring is not anger.
    Do you care about everything? Or just your special in group?

    But anyway… you talk a lot of woke bingo words… it’s hard to take you like a genuine person when you are preaching religion.

    Maybe reread this post a few more times.

  7. AubreyK says:

    #metoo
    (About the cool retro internet and modem stuff, except our first modem was 2400baud… zmodem foreva!)
    (Also about the other stuff, humans are stupid)

  8. CdrJameson says:

    Monsters from the Id indeed.

  9. StevieBUK says:

    I was on Facebook early on but not for long. Hated it. All the fake “Look at my life, isn’t it great” and seeing all the old folks from school & seeing the knobs were the same knobs as they were in school.

    The trouble with social media is its free, meaning everyone will use it. But I avoid most of it.

    Facebook can be useful if trying to setup a small business precence for someone on the Internet. Although I don’t use it, trying to set them up with WordPress and then trying to explain to them how to manage it can be difficult. So just telling them “Just use Facebook then. Its free and might be easier for you to manage”.

    The Internet has only become more toxic because its now easier than ever for these people to argue with each other. I remember finally getting online in the 90s in college. It was enjoyable and new. Unfortunately we now have lots of hipster in charge at companies. Who insist you understand and know social media to get that next job, fuck off. Do they not understand social media is the problem.

    Only time social media is good. When you see Cliff has put out a new YouTube video :)

    And I only use my own website for what the Internet used to be. For sticking up all my IT notes as I’m an IT Engineer. So I have access to the notes wherever I am and others might find some of the notes useful.

  10. Wow!

    It is actually funny to see this article, because I was always envy of you being able to post that often on twitter… :) For a while I tried to use social media to generate traffic and views… but it seems that I’m just really not compatible with it – and actually I always felt about them how you describe it now.

    I’m 31, so I used IRC only because of a few retro friends. I had no internet until I was 22 years old (yeah I’ve learned programming from books… and not from the internet!). But this is partially because I had a poor family background. Still, I was one of the firsts in Hungary who registered on Facebook – because I wanted to promote my metal music… :) And yeah… after decades I’m mostly on facebook and twitter because of the same: to market.

    For a short period of time at the start, I had an addiction – but very soon I realized how bad effects it has on me – so I’ve cut it out nearly completely, then come back to advertise.. this time my game/games.

    Even more… I wanted to build a youtube channel. It is also something I’m not really compatible with, but still, I plan to try and try again. I’m just really not cool and attractive… and actually personality tests say that I’m 100% introverted. But I guess I will just have to try and try because I don’t feel like I have the budget not to do so.

    Anyways, whatever is best for you is what you should go for. I don’t feel like your facebook or twitter presence is making you a lot of pressor traffic, unfortunately, to make it worth. I mean, at your level.

    But I’d be really sad if you’d stop blogging here. I always felt like you were a person who could be a, umm “real life friend” even if we had no multiple countries between us… so what I try to say with my awful English is that I like you, man, please really keep your blog :) I like to read your ideas and thoughts.

  11. Richard says:

    > “I don’t know if my next door neighbor is gay or straight or bi, or whether they support legalizing drugs, or if they voted conservative. We get along fine, […]”

    I once had two queer / gay neighbours who permanently had a gay flag in their garden, then got angry because I casually referred to them as the “gay neighbours”, lol.

    Identity politics suck and I hate how widespread it is in just about every element of life. “Snowboarding isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle…” No, it isn’t. It’s a hobby. Same for certain occupations. Some people really love pointing out that they a certain job like this defines their personality or something. Gender alone: are you manly enough for Ron Swanson? Or a strong and powerful woman like Oprah?

    This is why I really love boring subjects. You’re a lot less prone to find this crap in hobbies meant for old people, though even in the bird-spotting community you’ll find people who set expectations and will judge you if you don’t live by them. Idiots.