Dueling Echo Chambers

I would like to start this piece with a one man play entitled:

“Using Facebook.”

Me: “Hmm, lets see what’s going on in Facebook.”

Me, literally ten seconds later and three swipes into my feed: “I immediately regret this decision! What the fuck is wrong with you fucking people? How could I know this many stupid people? Is it because I’m stupid? Gaaaaaa!”

Me: *loses will to live *

The End

I hope you enjoyed the play. I certainly did not, but that is kinda its point.

Now, you might think, “why follow these people if being exposed to them and their ideas is that upsetting to you?”

This is a good question. I’m glad you asked.

I do this because I think it is important to remind myself that people like this, and their ideas, exist. It is far to easy to forget about them. And then when things like QAnon rear up and actually affect the world political stage, we get completely blindsided by it.

So to the anti-vaxxers; the conspiracy theorists; the Trumpists; and the Canadians going on about gun rights with Second Amendment arguments:

Thank you! Your stupidity has inoculated me (quite ironically, in some cases) against the full-blown infection of toxic stupidity the last four years has become. Thanks to your earnest showcase of the nightmare that is your thought process (or lack thereof). You have helped me survive. Thank you.

Even when you don’t agree with them, it’s good to make oneself aware of other modes of thinking, from time to time. This can help mitigate the dangers of getting trapped in an echo chamber. If you don’t know what that is, then you’re somehow new to the internet (welcome!), or are not very bright. (Check it out, if need be: Echo Chamber)

The internet is full of echo chambers. It is a perfectly crafted engine for them. If you enjoy this kind of thing, then far be it from me to tell you it isn’t good. How you enjoy wasting your time is entirely your business. But I am here to tell you that if you are engaging in these kinds of communities, then what you’re up to is about as productive as a circle jerk. Don’t kid yourself that you’re fighting the good fight, or educating the people. You’re simply entertaining yourself and a bunch of other people who think just like you do.

Now, for those who are busy actively generating content for their chamber’s community, it is common to venture out into the “world” (comment threads) to take the fight to the enemy. This also can be a great way to generate new content.

In this endeavor, there is a tendency to find the worst morons from the opposing camp, and then to use their shittiness to paint their whole group with. I’m sure this is fun. Just do not forget when doing this that you are essentially picking a fight with the village idiot of your enemy town. You may as well be eating cheezies and making your genitals orange for all the good you are doing your cause. As well, it is very likely that you are the village idiot of your town and simply have not realized it. Bird of a feather, and all that.

Like I said, if you enjoy wasting your time this way, that’s your business. But if you engage in a lot of this kind of behavior, I’m going to make certain assumptions about you. (Not that you should care.)

I will assume that you are someone who feels the need to craft an identity out of a cause. This may be one step up in maturity from doing so about the kind of movie, book series, or music you like, but you certainly have not cleared adolescent thinking either. You have the desire to communicate and be perceived, but not the ability to articulate your own thoughts. You don’t yet understand the deeper thinking and philosophy inherent to your own cause, and neither can you think critically to properly dissect the position of an opposing one. So you hunt about for examples of the worst kinds of offenders to make fun of. Little shared tidbits of wit and cleverness are compiled over endless circuits around your favorite echo chamber.

This is the, “I don’t really understand what I like/am yet, but I know fucking well what I hate,” stage of thinking. That’s fine; it’s a normal stage of intellectual development. Just don’t expect to be taken too seriously.

When I’m the target of abuse from folks at this kind of level, it’s like I’m enjoying a walk on a fine day and some some genetic mistake of a teenager with rotten teeth calls out to inform me that my fashion is lame. It is really not a big deal.

You should never assume that anyone you meet, online or otherwise, knows how to think. Least of all if they rely on political talking points or echo chamber reblogs for the bulk of their “personal” narrative. If you operate with the assumption that everyone can’t think, until they prove to you otherwise, you’re going to be a lot happier.

“Oh, what’s this blog? Why, it is someone saying that all blacks/whites/hispanics/gays/breeders/men/feminists/cis gender should be deported/killed/cancelled. Do I need to take this person seriously? Let me think. Hmmmmmm… Oh! Wait a minute! No. They’re an idiot! Problem solved.”

See? Easy. No muss, no fuss.

A bunch of tattoos and an alternative lifestyle (be it Christian fundamentalist, gun-loving militia, or whatever else) do not magically imbue intelligence or infallibility. Nor do they make someone more interesting (but that’s another essay).

Of course, perhaps getting angry at idiots is a favorite hobby of yours. If that’s the case, if you want to try to level up your thinking, I suggest sitting yourself down and asking yourself the following question, in all gravity:

“Am I an idiot?”

If you can answer no, you’re probably lying to yourself. But, maybe it’s simply that you like slumming with idiots on occasion, which means you’re probably just a troll.

When you wander into someone else’s club house to stir up shit you are either trolling or saying implicitly that their thoughts and ideas have merit; essentially, that you are at their level.

Let me go on the record here that I basically agree with about 70% of the feminist and other “social justice” material that I see on my feed. (Do keep in mind: that number is probably as high as it is because I don’t follow idiots; this doesn’t mean I agree with 70% of that kind of material on the internet as a whole.) Then there’s that last 30% where I’m, “uhhh… you lost me there.”

And guess what? It doesn’t fucking matter. Beyond it simply not mattering to me, why would I assume that my thoughts about it would matter to those who are circulating the idea? Is it my job to fix these people? To set some nonexistent record straight? Or, in getting into it, would I simply be imposing my entitled ass into where it doesn’t belong?

If I had to grow up being dominated by dipshit white men, I’d be ornery too. (Hang on… I was. And I am. Aha.) Especially when so many white folks have pissed away every advantage they’ve been given by their psychopathic ancestors, and do nothing but bitch and moan about other people’s malfunctions without ever examining their own.

When people make themselves a community to hate on white people or men or white men, or whoever the fuck, just leave them be. Whether you are a target of their ire or not. They have made it abundantly clear that your voice and perspective is unwelcome. So why impose? Do you honestly think that the one thing missing in every human interaction is hearing your opinion?

Of course if they come into your house with their shit, then do what you will.

I may get pretty opinionated here, but this is my place to give vent to my internal world. Essentially, I’m yelling and throwing whisky bottles at a brick wall in my own house. When folks decide to come to the window and listen, that’s their business. Enter at your own risk.

I have no doubt whatsoever that there are plenty of, say, lesbian people of color who (if they were somehow made aware of me) would like nothing more than to chop me up into little pieces, starting with my genitals, to send me back to Germany and England. That’s okay. If I ever meet one and they try it, I’ll defend myself to the best of my ability. Until then, have fun ranting about it.

Glad to be of service.

WTF, Luke?

Just watched Return of the Jedi again. It has its moments.

However, I have to say the “there’s good in him, I feel it,” theme that runs through those movies about Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker is some real bullshit. I mean, what the fuck, Luke? That’s your answer, is it? Fall back on the last desperate refuge of every abuser defending beaten wife and Stockholm sydroming hostage, and then just give up. Some hero.

“I won’t kill you! Oh no! You got me mad and I actually did something useful for once and I almost beat you, so I guess it’s time to give up like a pussy. Aaaaagh! OUCH! Save me daddy! Save meeee!

“Wow! Thank the force that you were here to have a change of heart and do my dirty work for me, killing the Emperor in an act of violence that somehow redeems you while it would have damned me to the dark side had I done it. Thanks, dad!”

Good thing for Luke though that Vader kicked the bucket then. Can you imagine how awkward it would have been for everyone had he dragged Vader back alive?

“Uhhhhh… that’s swell that you had a touching moment with your *cough* father, Luke, but there’s this whole war crimes trail for, you know, genocide we’re going to have to put him through.”

Then Luke and Vader would to have to force persuade their way out of there and live out their days hiding out together in some remote location. Daddy Anakin would still be a total dick, of course. Force throwing empty whiskey bottles at Luke’s head from his wheelchair and constantly berating him for all his many, inevitable failures (this is Luke Skywalker we’re talking about, after all).

You can’t fix someone like him, Luke. He’s never going to stop force raping every sentient creature that gets within range of him. The Judeo-Christian infused, cretinous “philosophy” of your world notwithstanding, killing the psycho who spent two decades reaming out his ass does not redeem your father of any of the evil shit he did.

Fuck you, Luke, and your stupid fucking Ewok funeral for the man who destroyed your sister’s home planet just to be a dick. You think Leia was down with you paying tribute to the man who tortured her and then murdered her entire adopted race?

And people go on about what a finely crafted character vehicle the original trilogy was. Yeah, maybe if you’re in elementary school.

Vader was so cool in the first two movies! You had one of the best movie villains of all time and you go and piss him away with this weak bullshit. Shame! Shame on you, Lucas!

Have that badass own his evil! “Luke, get your funky little white ass over to the Dark Side. Together we’ll rule this groovy universe, and if you want to fuck your sister, that’s cool with me. Because that’s how I roll. Fuck the haters.”

That’s a villain. Not this weak ass “redemption,” daddy-never-loved-me pathological horseshit.

Fuck you.

Millennials are Garbage

So, millennials, huh? What went wrong there? And golly, Enid, those flappers sure were a real menace, what with their reefer and jazz music and sex in motorcars.

And then with the beatniks! And don’t get me started on those dirty hippies! Punks! The world is going to hell in a handbasket!

Hmmm, now that I start to dig into it a little, it’s almost as though there’s always been people who insist on framing things in terms of generational conflict. Who go for the layup of old versus young (or vice versa) when they want to get their dander up about something. Goddamnit they aint gonna let something like not having anything interesting or useful to say stop them from getting their spleen on!

And then oh what a bland cul-de-sac of the zeitgeist we find ourselves in.

At this point, those of you expecting a hit piece on millennials are probably wondering what the fuck I’m doing.

The short answer is: You’ve been clickbaited.

Now, there are two camps of people who would respond to such bait: those who agree that millennials are terrible; and those who took offense at the title and came looking for some more of that sweet, sweet offensive fuel for their raging fire of righteous indignation.

For those of you in the first group who came looking for something of an echo-chamber to amuse yourselves: sorry, there’s not going to be much here for you in terms of that. But do feel free to pull up a chair and hang about if you’re so inclined. I do actually have a point here and it might not do you any harm to check it out.

Now, for those of you who came torches and pitchforks in hand, I would ask you to take a step back and ask yourself how it is that you’ve been clickbaited. Not why (that’s an easy one: it’s to drive traffic to my content), but how?

The how of it is actually pretty simple. It’s an old sales technique and one of the tricks in the How To Win Friends and Influence People bag. To combat indifference and disinterest, the manipulator instigates the target’s irritation or anger. These feelings, while negative, are an emotional response. The target now has engaged emotionally with you; a connection has been established. From there it is child’s play to defuse the anger, and what follows is a dopamine rush from the perceived conflict resolution, however minor. In that state it, the mark is much more likely to buy that used car they didn’t want.

But this is the internet. There’s no car for them to sell you. So what’s the payoff? Attention. Traffic. That is the currency. You see something that pisses you off, and what do you do? You share it, you comment on it; then your friends to the same. Attention. Traffic.

Mission accomplished.

You read something that pisses you off and you click to read more. In order to do what? What need does that impulse serve for you? I have already told you what need of mine you have serviced, but what service are you doing yourself? The only logical answer is that you like being angry and offended. Fair enough then. But if you don’t like that mental state, then what the fuck are doing to yourself? For my benefit, no less.

This is the media cycle we now are meant to participate in. The celebrity offensive act or tweet, followed by the mea culpa apology circuit. These are not missteps; they are calculated manipulations.

Their name is trending on Twitter. Attention. Traffic.

This is not to say it isn’t useful to get angry at things sometimes. But take a second and think about how you are interacting with what has angered you. Is your attention hurting or helping the object of your ire? Are you signal boosting exactly what it is you claim to be fighting against?

Get angry, sure. Say your piece, even better. But don’t serve their fucking agenda. Make a case for what you believe without linking to that offensive tidbit that baited you into action. That’s the way to do it.

Think of it in terms of that old philosophical exercise:

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a noise?”

The answer is: no it doesn’t. Noise is a human concept. There are vibrations in the air, but they are not interpreted by a human mind that makes a judgment about what is noise and what isn’t.

So, if a shitty tweet is posted and no one reads it, is it offensive?

Without human attention and interpretation, all of this is nothing more than dust blown into the void. Binary ones and zeros dumped into a sea of data storage.

It’s nothing.

Until you make it something.

Character

Character is what you crave because authenticity is what you lack. Character can only be developed through the slow grind of real life; being put to the test and succeeding or failing on one’s own merits.

It is not to be found in sterile confines of a safe shoebox life.

It is bodily fluids on concrete.

It is realizing there is nothing to be done and yet trying something anyway.

It is failing spectacularly.

It is staring death in the teeth and surrendering to its will; then leaving that moment alive, realizing you have been spared until another day.

The artificial patina of photo filters overlaid upon your phone’s window to the world does not cut it. Nor do you tattoos. This is all product.

Bullshit.

You know it.

Live.

Get the fuck on with it already.

 

People Who Make Hyperbolical Attacks Should Be Shot

When hyperbolical postures are taken, liberties are sure to follow.

Meat is murder, is it? An animal’s soul is the equivalent of a human’s, you say?

If I look perturbed at this point it is only because it odd to me that you could believe those things, and tell me so over a lunch where I chow down on animal right in front of you.

“It’s been fun calling you a mass murderer while watching you engage in your crime and spending money in a place that profits from it! Let’s do it again soon! Same time next week?”

You don’t get to adopt a posture that paints me as evil and then remain my friend or even a friendly acquaintance. Because once you do so, I will lose all respect for you. Either you don’t believe a fucking thing you say, or you are comfortable with self-delusion and complicity in evil to a degree that would make Eva Braun wince.

If you want to hate me for what I am, or the kind of ideas I have, or the things I have done and do, that is your business. You are more than welcome to. But understand that I will not be a prop in some identity constructing, moral outrage performance. I am not a scratching post. Call me the devil because I’m a white male? Disregard my perspective and voice because of it? So be it. I can understand why a person would choose to adopt that posture. The second you do, however, you and I are done.

No great loss to either party, I suppose, but there it is.

oracle

So this is modern life. What wonders.
Peer into your phone.
The modern Oracle.
This is what we live for now.

But…

If nothing is meaningful without transposition into pixels and code,
then how can I have meaning?

Take that selfie.
There you are. Ones and zeros in dots of light.
That’s better. Now you’re something.

Share it.
Like it.
Tweet it.

Except…

Why is it all so empty?
Why do I hate myself?
Why do I hate the ones I love?
Why am I empty?
What do I have?
What do I want?
What do I need?
What am I?

Who am I?

There are no answers for this most important question in your new Oracle.

A sea of likes and circle-jerk positivity will only muddy your mind.

Don’t worry too much though.
Though it wounds like a thorny parasite worming its way through you,
shitting cancer as it goes,
this is the modern condition.
The gift of consumer capitalism.
Suck it up.

They have pills for you to numb the worst of it now.

Ask your doctor what is right for you.

 

A Pirate are Ye?

Say! Those are some swell tattoos.

So, you’re a pirate, huh? Cut your teeth sailing the high seas, raping your way across the Caribbean in search of Spanish gold?

No.

Have you even been on a sailing vessel?

Again with the no.

Then I suppose it could be said that all your tattoos of pirate iconography just make you look like some kind of poseur hipster cunt.

Good thing for you that you’re appropriating the unearned badges of honor of a bygone criminal underclass. This way you’ll never need to have that, “so, tell me, where the fuck did you earn that ink? Who you with?” conversation with an actual, real life hardcase.

If you ever met a real pirate your booty would be the booty.

Corporate Capitalism Fucks the Gizmal

To start with, let’s get one thing straight here: capitalism isn’t bad. Basic capitalism isn’t the problem. People selling their goods and services for money that they can buy goods and services with is a fine way to function. There’s nothing wrong with this.

It’s the parasitic class of corporate capitalists that are the problem.

Let’s say I notice a hole in the market. I see there is a need for a product that does not exist. I form a company: Gizmo Inc. Then I make a small run of this product: The Gizmal.

The Gizmal works! I sell as many as I can make. Success!

However, I have a problem. I am not a multinational corporation. At this stage, I cannot afford to make all the Gizmals that I would be able to sell. I don’t have the capital to produce that much. But I only have a limited amount of time before other companies copy the Gizmal and exploit that market.

I have to scale up and make those Gizmals.

Well, thankfully, capitalism has developed a system for doing this. I take Gizmo Inc public to raise that capital.

The market analysts check us out and see that we’ve got something here. The numbers look good! We raise all the money we could ever need, and more, and scale the fuck up. Gizmals are flooding the market. It’s a hit!

Success!

In year one after going public, we sell ‘x’ number of Gizmals.

In year two, we sell 3x.

In year three, we sell 6x.

Our stock keeps going up and up! Gizmo Inc is flying high. With increases in sales like this, our profits are increasing at a level that makes the company very attractive to investors. The corporate capitalists love us! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, here’s the thing:

The market for Gizmals is finite. There are only a certain number of customers that need Gizmals. By year three, the market is saturated. Everyone who needs a Gizmal has a Gizmal.

Now, thankfully, we expected this, so our engineers cleverly designed Gizmals to only last for one year. They are designed to fail.

So, thanks to this clever planning, in year four we still sell 6x number of Gizmals. We also know that we will continue to sell 6x Gizmals every year until the Chinese figure out how to copy the Gizmal. But that will take them years. The profits will continue as before and we will keep churning out those Gizmals.

Good enough, right?

No.

See, the market capitalists are in the mix now, right? 6x Gizmals sold in year four is unacceptable. This is failure.

The market capitalists, with their analytics and projections, valued Gizmo Inc’s stock with the assumption that profits would continue to increase at the exponential rate of its first three years.

Getting the same profit this year that we did the last is not okay. This is failure!

Seeking to please the market capitalists, Gizmo Inc brings out some new products. We release the Gizmole, the Gizwizzle, and the Gizwizard.

Sadly for us, none of these new products are something the market needs. They sell okay for a year, but people quickly realize the products are bullshit.

The market capitalists need to be satiated, though. They need their fucking profits.

So, onto cost cutting. We slash jobs and move production overseas.

Success! Profits are up!

However, now the Chinese are catching up faster than ever, as our foreign production facilities hemorrhage workers to the competition as fast as we train them.

As well, the quality of our Gizmals plunges, effectively erasing the difference between our product and the Chinese knockoffs.

By year eight, Gizmo Inc is fucked. The market capitalists pick over the bones a bit, chop up the subsidiaries to sell whatever intellectual property still has value to the highest bidder.

Then it is done. Gizmo Inc is over.

And the market capitalists move on to the next host.

And begin the process again.

This is our world now.

A system requiring unlimited, constant growth trying to force its will on a finite world.

The highway has to run out sometime. Going full throttle right to the end of it might not be the best choice.

Scavengers

It’s the outrage scavenger hunt! Hooray!

It’s time to get offended! Time to get outraged!  What fun!

What’s this? Is that a white woman wearing a kimono?

Appropriation! Let’s all pile on and ruin her life!

It’s time to make a difference.

Did someone ignorant share an extreme opinion you don’t like?

We can’t just leave that alone to die a quiet death all by itself. No way!

Pile on!

This is important work we’re doing here.

Piling on. Ripping other little people to shreds.

Fixing the world.

One ruined life at a time.