Report from Louisiana: The Social Dilemma

By:  Pat Austin   

SHREVEPORT – Most of the time I feel like we are living in a dystopian universe.  If you watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix you might agree.  Absolutely terrifying.

Come sit in a high school classroom for any length of time and you’ll see the problem that is social media. In my school, the English teachers got together and decided to all take up phones before class each day. You put your phone in in the box before you enter class and they are returned at the end of class. Otherwise, I promise you, kids are staring at their phones and not doing their classwork. There are varying degrees of this truth depending on what school and how motivated the student population is in general.

The Social Dilemma docudrama makes the point that we have an entire generation of kids more anxious, more depressed than ever before due to social media. They are so bound up in that instant gratification from “Likes” and “Shares” that for so many their entire self-worth is connected to this. I see this daily.

This is a subject that has interested me for a long time; when Matt Richtel’s book, A Deadly Wandering, came out in 2014, I eagerly developed lessons around it, shared it with my students, and tried to reinforce its thesis, to no avail. Students thought it was crazy. It’s the “they aren’t taking to ME” syndrome: “I don’t have this problem.”

Social media is so insidious, so pervasive, so much a part of our lives, and we all know it. But we don’t stop. We are so absolutely dependent on it. It controls us.

Nearly everyone has had this experience, or something similar: you are driving by a store…say, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. You say out loud, “Oh, I need to go one day and get a new ladder!” What kind of ads show up on your social media feed next time you go online?

True story: I was outside one day with three friends. One person had a device around her neck with little fans at each end that blew air toward her face and she used this while gardening in our southern heat and humidity. Friend number two said something like, “Oh, that’s cool! Does it work well?” Friend no 1 assured her it worked great. End of conversation. I never uttered a word. What kind of ads were on my social media when I opened Facebook later that afternoon?  Why, ads for little fans you wear around your neck, of course.

Paranoid? Nope. This happens all the time.

Last week I saw one of those ads on Facebook for some shirt with a dragonfly design. I did not click on it. I did linger for a moment, looking at the photo. Now, dragonfly shirts are all over my feed.

This sort of thing is a tiny example of how social media controls and influences us. It is enough for me to want to pull a Travis McGee, unplug from everything, and go off the grid.

Now watch, Travis McGee books will be all over my feed.

Watch The Social Dilemma. It’s an eye opener.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Who is my neighbor on social media?

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 19:18
Too easy to share, and so bland!

The COVID-19 posturing, protests and constant craziness on social media is grinding away at plenty of nerves. Reason’s recent article about leaving people alone summarizes the current grandstanding, on all sides, in its last paragraph:

These with-us-or-against-us performances are a symptom of a larger climate in which every element of our lives has become an opportunity for tribal signaling and cultural warfare, and in which our ruling political tribes are growing increasingly illiberal in their approaches to free speech, free trade, free thought, private property, and so much more.

Reason

Right now, most people are caught in the 24 hour news cycle, which rewards getting angry over something every day. But what happens when people get fed up and start quitting? As far back as 2017 people began noting that Millenials weren’t sharing nearly as much original content on social media. As social media becomes increasingly hostile to contradictory views, its far easier to share bland, feel good articles or memes. Many people get no joy or energy from arguing with people online. People that do love the sport of online argument are likely to find an increasingly smaller number of engagement opportunities. In Top Gun terms, it won’t be so “target rich” anymore.

As people pull back, you’ll see much more use of social media to connect directly with people, but a lot less sharing of opinions. This makes tracking social media sharing as a flawed data set for gauging popular opinion. For any future election, how Twitter, Facebook and other things trend isn’t going to be a reliable indicator for polling, yet people are going to swear by it. This very different sharing is also making the social media advertising model more difficult to execute.

People will always self-select friends. We are called to love our neighbors, and if social media makes that hard, people will naturally pull back. Social media put us in a weird place of often knowing many people online, but not knowing our next door neighbor. Ironically, it might now turn us to cut out the online “friends” in order to talk more with our neighbor.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

I’m beginning so suspect that it is not possible for those on the opposite ends of the political spectrum to communicate with each other

I spend a lot of time on Facebook debating liberals.  I don’t intend to at all.  I just post the stuff I want to and my liberal friends declare all out war on just about everything I post.   I never return the favor..  I have a live and let live policy. I enjoy debate but I loathe all out war.

It is not an enjoyable experience.  Both sides often end up angry and it is tedious because we keep repeating the same points over and over again with neither adopting the other’s positions on any issue.  I’m absolutely fine if my liberal friends never adopt any of my positions or beliefs.  I firmly believe every individual is entitled to their own opinions, positions, and beliefs   It appears to me that those declaring war on me when I share my beliefs find it unacceptable that I hold and share beliefs that contradict the liberal orthodoxy.  I’ve been told on a few occasions that the reason for the all out war on my posts is because they do not accept by views and beliefs.  They are bullying me into abandoning my beliefs and taking on theirs. Forcing others to accept my beliefs and views has never entered my mind when I post on social media.  I post on social media to inform which cannot be construed as forcing my views on others.  I never badger those who post items contrary to my beliefs, or who post items I find offensive, or know to be inaccurate. I just scroll past.

Even though I am usually calm and laid back I’ve lost my temper far too many times during these debate sessions.  False accusations of bigotry and nonstop personal attacks will cause anyone to lose their temper.   They bother me immensely.  Did you know that right wing opposition to professional sports embracing Black Lives Matters is based on bigotry?  That is news to us right wingers who know that we are angry because Black Lives Matter is a Marxist organization who’s members have killed many police officers, rioted and burned buildings, and openly called for violence against police officers.  I am sick to death of being called a racist because I respect and honor the Constitution and also respect and honor the founding fathers and principles of this great nation.

It is not much fun when individuals demand I prove every statement I make regardless how innocent it is then constantly reject my proof because it is from right wing, accurate, hard journalism sources such as Breitbart, Townhall, American Thinker, The Federalist Papers, and Federalist.ORG.   I’ve tried educating my friends about the history and culture behind left wing fake news and how right wing sources are accurate journalism sites only colored by right wing window dressing.  There is only so many times you can experience the same conversation with out it becoming extremely tedious.

I’ve come to the conclusion through these debate sessions that real communication  between those on the political right and those on the political left is not possible because both sides view the universe at large so differently.  We no longer share the same reality.  Those on the political left too often live in a bubble dominated by liberal orthodoxy.  If it is not on MSNBC, CNN, or NPR it is not true to them.  Cultural Marxism has warped the reality of the political left too much. 

I’m a Libertarian who a few decades ago was a left wing socialist.  My journey from one political side to the other was brought about through an enormous amount of research, study, and soul searching .  I’ve lived in both political universes and I know the political left is the insulated side that exists almost devoid of reality. 

Leftism is one of those harmful cult like religions that demand unthinking obedience to a rigid dogma. Any posts and comments against one of the many sects of the leftist religion is viewed as the worst kind of heresy. I admit that Libertarianism, the original interpretation of the Constitution, and the founding principles of this country are a kind of religion to me. It is a religion I embrace through an overwhelming amount of study and research. I am perfectly fine with others not embracing or following my personal religion. Every individual is free to believe whatever they want to.

Quaint Mount Rushmore Reactions

Last night after a trip to the reopened Funspot in NH (more on that later this week) got home and finally checked the net after a day of ignoring it (highly recommended) when the story broke of the democrats tweeting and then deleting this about a Donald Trump event scheduled for Mount Rushmore:

As you might expect they deleted it right away but not before it was screen grabbed and displayed for all too see.

I found both things rather quaint.

I particularly found it quaint that anyone would be surprised at this point by this opinion but beyond that…

I found it quaint that the democrats would delete the tweet as if they would actually pretend that this is not the opinion of their base

I found it quaint that the Democrats thought such a tweet could be deleted without notice.

I found it quaint that supporters of the President might thing, at a time when democrats are defending riots and arson nationwide might be embarrassed over hitting Mount Rushmore in a tweet.

But what I really find quaint is that at this point, with Democrat cities burning and preparing to jettison the police and promising more of the same that there are people actually undecided on how they will vote to the point where both sides might think this tweet will make any difference?

They Can’t Hide Stuff Anymore

No theories in these conspiracies

by baldilocks

Good stuff from Sarah Hoyt:

Look, yeah, the first amendment still protects our speech. And yes, I know the first amendment only protects our speech from the government.  But in the year of our Lord 2019 we also know for sure that if you say the wrong thing you could find yourself fired, your reputation destroyed, your family threatened, your career a thing of the past. It’s not exactly by the government — though remember that poor schmo dragged in for the movie The Innocence of Muslims whom no one had watched and which Obama decided to blame for the 9/11/12 [Benghazi] Embassy attack? — but by the Marxist Hydra which encompasses various power structures: the government bureaucracy, the media, entertainment, a lot of rich people and what’s known as the “movers and shakers.”

This btw has happened for a long time, at least in my field, (and in a lot of others). But it was impossible to get word out, and anyone who managed it was disbelieved.

Now, of course we know we’re not alone. We also know the limits to our speech.  And we’re of course told things like “free speech doesn’t cover hate speech” which is what is technically known as bullsh*t, since no one ever needed a right to free speech to say that butterflies are pretty and ice cream tastes delicious.  Or for that matter to echo the things the controllers of media and social media want you to say.

On the Jeffrey Epstein saga:

Back in the early two thousands I heard of Bill Clinton and flights in the Lolita Express leaving out of Mena airport in Arkansas. Dark mutterings of young girls and drug traffic. And all the time, all the time I thought “Right-wing fever swamps. I guess we have nutters too. Because if that were happening, involving someone who later became president, there’s no way it wouldn’t have come out. Everyone would know.”

Well, dear fever swamps, I want to apologize to you. You were right, I was wrong. It turns out the Lolita Express was flying and Bill Clinton was part of the party and no one NO ONE, not one man jack in the main stream media thought this news worthy? NOT ONE. The Omerta held it as silent as they held Obama’s grades or what courses he actually took in college, or how he got to be president of Harvard Law Review without ever publishing a single thing.

Now, how do you expect me to laugh when someone says all leftist politicians are lizard-beings from Ganymede? (…)

[W]e’ve seen things that just ten years ago I’d have thought were insane.

Much more great writing and great ideas at the link.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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