Culture in the age of social media–here’s my conversation with writer Ben Sixsmith about the vast democratization of communications brought about by digital technology and the vast concentration of the public space in a handful of corporations. It’s not made us happy and good, but instead created new political conflicts and social drama. It’s an interesting time, but hardly bearable–so you might like some thoughts on Twitter, YouTube, and various other observations about what it’s like to be human plus digital. Also, if you’re interested in a fine read on British-Polish relations, Ben’s book is the thing for you!More
In 1914, in his novel The World Set Free, H.G. Wells wrote of a future featuring “atomic bombs,” in which “it was a matter of common knowledge that a man could carry about in a handbag an amount of latent energy sufficient to wreck half a city.” That was thirty-one years before Trinity — before the detonation of the first atomic weapon in the sands of southern New Mexico.
Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrentheit 451, written in 1953, described ear-buds, those ubiquitous little earphones everyone wears today. He called them “seashells,” but we’d recognize them today — as we would the insular cocoon they created for the perpetually distracted wife of that novel’s protagonist.More
Unlike many users of this site, I don’t harbor any particular feelings of hatred for Facebook. It’s a convenient way for me to keep in touch with family and friends, and there’s a lot of fun and interesting things posted there.More
It’s hard to be a big tech company these days without somebody rooting for your demise. But some cases are a bit more understandable than others. Like this one: “Bannon says killing Huawei more important than trade deal with China.” I mean, I get it. Former Trump White House adviser and nationalist Steve Bannon wants America to launch and win a Tech Cold War against China. Taking an ax to what might be its most important tech company, a key player in the global 5G rollout, might be a big step forward in such a plan.
But it’s not Americans wanting to shut down just Chinese tech companies. Sometimes it’s Americans going after American firms. “Maybe we’d be better off if Facebook disappeared,” writes Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, in an op-ed for USA Today. And his problem isn’t just with the social media giant run by Mark Zuckerberg. According to Hawley, Twitter and Instagram, though oddly not YouTube, are also “best understood as a parasite on productive investment, on meaningful relationships, on a healthy society,” He claims they’ve created an “addiction economy” based on extracting and selling data gleaned from uninformed users. The first sentence of the piece: “Social media consumers are getting wise to the joke that when the product is free, they’re the ones being sold.”More
“There is no accounting for tastes,” said the old lady as she kissed the cow. More
I should state up front that I do not use Twitter. I have occasionally followed a link to Twitter, but I don’t linger there. It is a confusing mess that seems to bring out the very worst in people. It seems that Twitter is starting to realize this, and to understand that the solution may not be in controlling who has access to Twitter, but in how the system rewards its users. We all respond to incentives. We all, to some degree, are rewards junkies – when certain behaviors are rewarded, we repeat and amplify those behaviors to receive more of those rewards. Twitter’s problem, as its CEO Jack Dorsey has begun to understand, is that it rewards awful behavior, rage, groupthink, bullying, and dehumanizing its users. A Buzzfeed article from May 15th details how Twitter is experimenting with a new interface – one that reduces the incentives for the worst of behavior, and perhaps restores some humanity.
In its early years Twitter optimized for engagement, which engagement features (replies, and the like and retweet buttons) and metrics (number of followers, likes, retweets, and replies) help to deliver. So now it’s trying to shift what it encourages people to do.
People who care about the free exchange of ideas — of any ideas, not merely the ideas that conform to the popular orthodoxies — are frustrated by a seeming paradox: though we are a free people living in an era of unparalleled connectivity in which the communication monopoly represented by old-fashioned media has effectively been […]
On Sunday I worked at the American Freedom Alliance conference, a day-long event featuring over 20 speakers, including Charlie Kirk, David Horowitz, Brent Bozell, Michael Walsh, Rebecca Friedrichs, Bill Whittle, and others. The hall overflowed with attendees representing UCLA Republicans to pensioners. It was an outstanding day where we discussed culture, free speech, science, academia, history and politics. On Monday the President of AFA and my dear friend Karen Siegemund was summarily fired from her life-long career of teaching math (both college and high school). The reason provided by the private high school? Her “public views” – that was it. Karen never spoke about politics in the classroom nor did her AFA role crossover into teaching.
Today David Horowitz was banned from Twitter. (*At this moment it seems they have reinstated David.) This follows last weeks widely publicized sweeping ban of other conservative voices from social media, including Paul Joseph Watson (the relatively benign host at InfoWars and other platforms). More incendiary personalities were banned from Facebook and Instagram like Laura Loomer, who, while too emotional for some, raises salient points about the double standard of online free speech (why is the terrorist group Hamas allowed on Twitter, but a Jewish conservative like her is banned?) as well as Milo who is sometimes provocative for the sake of being a provocateur.More
Ben Shapiro recently made a video in which he argued that facebook was asking for government censorship/regulation and that was a bad thing. (the video) It was more complex than that I think it is a good thing to watch to see what he is saying even though I disagree. Another interesting take on it […]
As Facebook celebrates its 15th anniversary, it is coming into controversies on all sides: political, psychological, social, and more. Thus, Jack assembles a panel of youth to discuss their own experiences with Facebook and how it has affected them. They also reveal their thoughts about the site’s effect on themselves, their peers, and society as […]
On Friday afternoon, 15 March 2019, New Zealand time, there was a horrific terrorist attack at least two mosques in New Zealand. They are 20 hours ahead of the U.S. West Coast time. According to the initial reports, an attacker livestreamed the event. The image, at right, was captured by media before the video was taken down. There apparently was a lengthy manifesto. There have been multiple people arrested. It appears this was an attack by white New Zealand and Australian citizens on Muslims.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “This can only be described as a terrorist attack.” The linked BBC page has a series of videos. The PM is not inclined to tweet. Indeed, you can see her last communication was in October.More
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America argue that Beto O’Rourke running for president is actually a good thing because it will either show media infatuation can get you elected or burst O’Rourke’s hype bubble. They are also concerned by the alarming rise in mental health disorders in teens that is […]
James A. Lindsay is a co-author of the Grievance Studies, a project designed to expose the politicized corruption within social justice geared humanities scholarship by creating bogus academic papers and submitting them to academic journals in the areas of cultural, queer, race, gender, fat, and sexuality studies. He and Bridget have a fascinating discussion about […]
“Ad calamitatem quilibet rumor valet.” (Every rumor is believed against the unfortunate.) — Syrus, Maxims.
“Extemplo Libyæ magnas it Fama per urbes:
Fama malum quo non velocius ullum;
Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo;
Parva metu primo; mox sese attollit in auras,
Ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubilia condit.
* * *
Monstrum, horrendum ingens; cui quot sunt corpore plumæ
Tot vigiles oculi subter, mirabile dictu,
Tot linguæ, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit aures.”
Carol Roth is a recovering investment banker, entrepreneur and author of The Entrepreneur Equation, the anti-motivational, motivational book about entrepreneurship and a realistic take on starting a small business. She and Bridget discuss the factor that jealousy plays in the tragic loss of the American Dream, being spoiled and ungrateful in a capitalist society, the […]
As we learned in my first post about the hazards of the internet, social media is a minefield https://ricochet.com/584254/from-information-superhighway-to-duckface-selfies/. You can embarrass yourself irreparably or even ruin your life. But if you think only millennials making duckface selfies in bathrooms are susceptible, think again. The professional world is rife with embarrassing faux pas, and celebrities […]
The Internet! Remember when it was The Information Superhighway? Back when Al Gore first invented it? It was going to be a boon to Mankind which would connect every common citizen to the Great Minds of the World and to Great Literature and The Arts! What happened? How did we go from an isolated boy […]
lol i dont know why sooooo many millennials hate grammar but whatchya gonna do about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Joking aside, this phenomenon drives me mad. Scarcely a day passes when I don’t see some flagrantly ungrammatical Facebook posting by someone who should know better. Twenty-something scientists, mathematicians, historians, poets, journalists, and even editors — editors, for goodness’ sake! — all write in the same quasi-illiterate nonstyle. When the social-media output of America’s aspiring literati is indistinguishable from that of its middle-school dropouts, something is deeply, deeply wrong. Our language’s Millennial gatekeepers haven’t merely abandoned their posts; they’ve joined the barbarians in storming the castle.More
During the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a 24-year-old pitcher almost lost his career as he pitched. Self-appointed social justice warriors dug up Josh Hader’s tweets from when he was 17. The tweets were ugly and indefensible. Josh Hader has saved his career with complete contrition, submission to sensitivity training, and enrollment in “diversity and inclusion initiatives.” That is, he will survive so long as he plays for the SJW team. This episode is the latest instance of an online, adolescent, subcultural phenomenon coming back to bite adults, a phenomenon that is worth relabeling.
For many years, (mostly) boys have engaged in acts of oneupmanship and attention-seeking by typing the most outrageous things they could imagine. This is called [expletive]posting and the object is to be considered an edgelord. Thinking through the taxonomy of group behavior @bossmongo provided in “The Establishment Group Monkey Dance,” a more apt, and alliterative phrase, comes to mind.
To all appearances, the folks in charge of privacy regulation within the European Union are unfamiliar with that old cliché, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Last week, the EU parliament passed a long-anticipated and much-dreaded privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a lengthy and convoluted document that is replete with vague substantive commands accompanied by hefty penalties for violation. The implicit assumption behind the regulation is that all individuals are entitled to control data about themselves, so that various firms that acquire this information not only have to hold it secure against outsiders, but are also limited in how they can use the data, while granting individual users extensive rights to access, control, and remove their personal data. The GDPR regime is not content to let these important issues be resolved by private contract. But the new regulation fails a simple test: It does not identify any breakdown in the current institutional arrangements to justify its massive oversight in the way in which individual data is managed by all sorts of organizations and firms.
No fair-minded person thinks it’s appropriate to allow strangers to hack into databases, public or private, or to deliver hacked data to others who can then use that data to defraud or defame innocent people. Right now, a robust, multi-layered regime of legal, political, economic, and social enforcement within the EU targets firms who are perceived to violate these norms. Yet there is scant justification for piling an additional massive regulatory scheme on top of the current mix of public and private remedies. Consider the fate of Cambridge Analytica, a firm that misused for political purposes data that it had acquired under false pretenses from Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign. Cambridge Analytica recently shut down, undone by a “siege of media coverage.” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, has been hauled over the coals repeatedly in both the United States and in Europe because the systems Facebook had in place were insufficient to protect against misuse. Zuckerberg responded with more robust solutions to satisfy its huge customer base, lest Facebook lose its dominant market position and the billions in revenue its users generate.More