It seems to me that I’ve been seeing lots and lots of social media posts which assert that [artist | intellectual] predicted [dystopian future that looks just like one aspect of today’s world] and did it [years ago]. I have to wonder what that’s in aid of. I mean, the second half of the 20th century was all about living with the constant threat of nuclear annihilation or environmental collapse, to say nothing of national existential threats (as the US and the USSR engaged in worldwide political destabilization and regime change) and obvious corporate misandry. The stories of my youth in the 70s and 80s were all dystopian nightmares of one kind or another, each one based on the reductio ad absurdum of some then-current phenomenon.
I know a few people who are concerned about their online privacy, but who don’t have a good handle on what to do about it. There is always some story about some company leaking private data, or some government spying on people, or some “hackers” stealing information for nefarious purposes. So people are worried, but the defensive measures they might take aren’t always clear or easy to understand, let alone implement. I thought I’d write some easier to understand instructions and analysis for my less technically inclined friends. Continue reading
I got totally burned out on social media by the U.S. election. Rather than textual posts with partisan argumentation (that’s how you spell, “civil discourse,”) Twitter and Facebook were awash in nasty memes. A month later it feels kind of like the morning after a killer party: I’m slowly looking around for cat videos and reports of my friends’ holiday plans and I wince slightly whenever I see some hate photo.
And it occurs to me, not for the first time, that this is what people do instead of slapping bumper stickers all over their cars. You can’t put a nuanced position on a bumper sticker; there’s no room for exposition or citations, nor for detailed reasoning. There’s just a conclusion. How do you argue with a conclusion? How do you point out that there’s a flaw in the logical chain, when the chain is not present? How do you engage with someone whose every pronouncement is an unsubstantiated claim?
I saw a tweet the other day about how people indulge in long tweetstorms (1/11, 2/11, 3/11…) meanwhile their blogs sit idle and not updated for years. I think people are feeling the pinch of trying to have conversations via bumper sticker, and trying to solve the problem by using more stickers. This feels like a wrong approach.
Maybe we could go back to long-form communication and just use the memeverse for advertising?