A continuation of the pattern

social madness

Here’s a follow-up to my previous post, “Millions of separate realities, destroying our common world.

I’m reading more and more of this stuff about how the way TOO many people consume the internet, and get consumed by it. Specifically, how they get their minds hopelessly warped by a couple of the standard features of social media and other web sites and services — the way these media keep showing you more stuff like what you seem to like, and — in this piece — the way the reinforcement of others (likes, retweets, shares, etc.) seduces people into insane new “realities.”

Here’s another item: A piece from the NYT headlined, “They Used to Post Selfies. Now They’re Trying to Reverse the Election.” The subhed says, “Right-wing influencers embraced extremist views, and Facebook rewarded them.”

This piece doesn’t make many broad observations about these phenomena; it mostly simply tells the story of how several individuals got sucked in. You’ll note the commonalities. The one place where the item touches upon the consistent themes is here:

He’s not alone. Facebook’s algorithms have coaxed many people into sharing more extreme views on the platform — rewarding them with likes and shares for posts on subjects like election fraud conspiracies, Covid-19 denialism and anti-vaccination rhetoric. We reviewed the public post histories for dozens of active Facebook users in these spaces. Many, like Mr. McGee, transformed seemingly overnight. A decade ago, their online personas looked nothing like their presences today.

A journey through their feeds offers a glimpse of how Facebook rewards exaggerations and lies.

But the rewards are trivial compared with the costs: The influencers amass followers, enhance their reputations, solicit occasional donations and maybe sell a few T-shirts. The rest of us are left with democracy buckling under the weight of citizens living an alternate reality….

Yeah, as I said the other day, I know this stuff isn’t new. We knew how the Web worked. You knew it; I knew it. But as I also said before, something just finally clicked recently when I was listening to “Rabbit Hole,” and for the first time in these last few years, I got Trumpism. I finally really saw how these people had become so warped, and so immune to facts and reason. What we’re seeing couldn’t have happened this way in any other time.

And frankly, I don’t know how we’re going to reverse this problem — a problem affecting people’s perception across the political spectrum (as I say, I know I’m vulnerable to it, too), but manifesting itself most threateningly among Trump followers. They’re the big problem now. (As I type this, I keep getting indications that there are people walking about downtown Columbia with semiautomatic weapons. There have been arrests. I might be writing more about it later, but I hope not. I hope the problem fades away…)

I don’t see how the toothpaste gets back in the tube, and people get sane again.

But I’m going to keep pointing out these glimpses of the problem as I encounter them. As I think I mentioned, I watched part of “The Social Dilemma” the other night. When I finish it, I’ll probably post about that, too. It starts from a perspective different from mine (such as worrying about addiction to social media, particularly among kids), but also gets into the problems I’m talking about…

5 thoughts on “A continuation of the pattern

  1. Barry

    On Nov. 13, Clark was in the Cabinet room of the White House with Stepien, Miller and campaign aide Erin Perrine for a meeting on communications strategy when deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino summoned Clark into the Oval Office to settle a legal question.

    Trump had Giuliani on speakerphone, and Giuliani, seemingly unaware of Clark’s arrival, was trashing the campaign staff’s legal strategy in Georgia — and floating a debunked conspiracy theory about rigged Dominion voting machines.

    “Hey, I’ve got Justin in here,” Trump interrupted. “What do you think, Justin?” Clark laid out the legal process in Georgia and told the packed Oval Office that Georgia state law barred requesting a recount until after an election is certified.

    “They’re lying to you, sir!” Giuliani erupted.

    “We’re not lying,” Clark shot back. “You’re a f$$$$$$g asshole, Rudy.”


  2. Bob Amundson

    Echo chambers leading down rabbit holes. But the good guys won. It doesn’t feel like it now because we are still in shock. BUT WE (and Democracy) WON. This IS an object reminder that Democracy can be fragile, but it can also be very strong. A damn dilema, for sure, but especially now, have FAITH. WE WON! Undoubtedly a wakeup call, and we are now FULLY awake.

    I’m not really surprised; I thought the military might have to intervene in a peaceful transition of power, and they are. We didn’t have to mobilize to retake the Capitol, to retake State Capitols; because Trump did not convince States to call the Guard up for earlier, mostly peaceful, demonstrations.

    Too damn close, but WE WON without Civil War.

  3. Bob Amundson

    I posted the following on my Facebook page and on the Rosewood Neighbors Facebook page: “Too many politicians, regardless of party, are more concerned about saving or strengthening their political “behinds” than leading. That is the primary reason I am fiercely politically independent. How can we, the people that vote these people into office, stop this? Just being aware of the problem and admitting it is a problem are the first steps.” Many positive responses from South Carolina and New York.

    One response, from a classmate/friend from Hillbilly Elegy country (rural western NY, foothills of the Appalachian chain), is telling. He IS a friend, and a talented musician who is a “born again” evangelical (believes earth is only 6,000 years, as the Bible states). He is even ex-mayor of my hometown. After talking about instituting term limits while mayor, only to have that policy changed when he “left” (wasn’t re-elected), he posted (copy and pasted) “I would contend that elections are no longer valid. We need in-person voting. Picture ID. No mass mail-in voting. No machine-tally of the votes. A pain in the ass? Yeah, but a whole lot better than losing the confidence of HALF THE NATION OR BETTER in our election system. THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN – NO ONE WILL EVER CONVINCE ME DIFFERENT – NOT EVEN COMMUNIST RE-EDUCATION CAMP. Be true to your communist ways – send me to camp and have me killed – I WILL NOT relent.”

    I replied, “I suggest they are valid as designed, that you dislike the design. Work to change the law.” I am like JD Vance in that I left “Hillbilly” as soon as I could; college then military. My friend was enlisted military and used his technical skills to become successful, but in that “Hillbilly” world. I don’t want to see him as my enemy, but I am reminded of “keep your friends close, your enemy closer.”


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