Saturday, January 9, 2021

Social Media to the Rescue!

Social media created the monster that was President Trump. Now social media claims to be the hero by rescuing us from him.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, if you went on social media, you might be forgiven for believing that Donald Trump had massive support in the United States.   On many, if not all, social media sites, postings by his followers dominated the discussion.  Reddit was particularly prone to this, as it was very easy, using their own algorithms, to upvote pro-Trump postings through a technique known as brigading.

People could create false user profiles and use them to upvote posts. Other fake user profiles could be used to do what's called sockpuppeting.  If I try to go on Facebook to set up a fake profile using a fake name I would be shot down very quickly.  But for some reason far-right activists had no trouble doing this.

Four years later, Zuckerberg claims to be the hero by banning Trump from Facebook and then the Swamp-Duck Dynasty look-alike guy who runs Twitter claims to be the hero by banning Trump from his platform.  Our saviors!  Coming to the rescue at the last minute!  Or perhaps a minute too late.

Not only is this a classic example of too little, too late, it also strikes me as an attempt to use a bit of Stockholm syndrome on us. Social media has tortured us over the last four years, and now by removing the pain wants us to think of them as their Florence Nightingale.  And it is a powerful message.

I noted before that the most pleasurable experience you can have in life is the removal of pain. And that's basically how torture works. The torturer doesn't expect you to confess to crimes or give up the names of your cohorts in response to the application of pain.  Rather, he expects you to do this for the promise of removing the pain. The prospect of relief from discomfort will that will force people to do just about anything.

So, today, we are lauding Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter and credit them for finally clamping down on hate speech. But we have to remember that these are the same people who created this Monster – not only Donald Trump, but the entire alt-right movement. And while we're at it, let's admit that they're also responsible for the Antifart anarchists and all the riots we had this summer, where left-wing mobs burned down entire neighborhoods in protests that had little to do with the nominal cause that was being fought for.

And for what? These social media sites allowed these sort of things to fester in order so they could make a few dollars. They willing to burn down America and in order to make a dollar to put even ten cents in their bank account. And now we're supposed to consider them Heroes? Sorry but I don't buy it.

So in 2016 the torch-and-pitchfork parade was being orchestrated against Hillary. Now in 2021, Donald Trump is in the hot seat. All we learned from this is that social media can make or break politicians. If anything, all this is done is make Facebook and Twitter more powerful than ever. Politicians now realize that they're real constituency is Mark Zuckerberg et. al. and not the people of the United States.  No, Zuckerberg owns the latter, and if you want access to them, you have to go through him.

So the lesson is clear, the real rules rulers of our country are the rulers of our minds, which is the people who run social media. This is why I'm not on Facebook and why I'm not on Twitter.

The politicians are taking note. They realize they have to appeal to their base - and by base I don't mean left-wing Democrats or right-wing Republicans, but Facebook followers and Twitter followers and so forth and so on. If you can own social media, you can own the Presidency. Those who go against social media will be destroyed.

I don't truck much in conspiracy theories, but this certainly sounds like a real whopper of one. When Trump went against section 230, that's when he his political career ended.  That was the real political battle.

We must remember that it was social media that created the alt-right, the anti-vaxxers, the conspiracy theorists - or at the very least, took what were fringe beliefs and made them mainstream.  It was social media that allowed young people to "self-radicalize" to Islamic terrorism.  It is the same platform that allowed Antfi terrorists to organize and propagate.  It has basically ruined our lives so that a few people can make a boatload of money by marketing to us.  Even during the riots, Republican fundraisers were using the riots as a pretext to raise money.   "Storm the Capitol!  And click here to donate $5 to the Republican Coup Fund!"  This could only happen because of Social Media.

We cannot let these same platforms claim to be the hero now.  At most, they are owning up to their misdeeds by cancelling these extremist accounts.  The problem wasn't the fringe believers, but the platforms that allowed them to spread and give them the air of legitimacy.

And all to make a buck or two - or a few hundred Billion.

Sadly, I don't see a pretty ending to this.  People spend so much time in an alternative reality - "screen time" on social media, or playing violent video games, or watching videos.   It has replaced our reality with an augmented reality and we are all losing our minds a little bit (or a whole lot) as a result.

I was reading one of my favorite online comics, litterbox comics, and the line the main character gave was interesting - "My new year's resolution was to stay off social media and be more present."  A fascinating phrase - "be more present" - as it illustrates the problem.   We leave reality when we go online and then live in a parallel world - a world disassociated from reality.

If people can't see the incredible danger in this, well, then we have no hope.