CSotD: Antisocial Media

Posting this Joy of Tech is a bit of a cheat, given that they’ve posted a new cartoon since, but it states the situation so well that I’m giving myself permission to break my own rules.

I have two elements of concern with Facebook.

Privacy is one, though I continue to subscribe to the theory that the more information is collected, the less can be processed. I find it somewhat annoying to have to go to a secure browser to look up things without subsequently being chased around with ads for them, but I recognize that as (A) a minor thing and (B) the price you pay.

I consider bullshit to be a larger matter, and, as the US Presidential elections ramp up, the level of lying, propaganda and plain foolishess has increased mightily and I’m not sure which of the three bothers me more.

It doesn’t have to be lies. There’s an Emerson College Poll floating around that people are reposting to prove that Sanders supporters are a great threat to Democratic chances.

But while 53% of his backers say they’ll only vote for Sanders, if you add in the number who will vote for the Democrat as long as it isn’t someone outrageous, you get 84%, and we have no idea who would be too outrageous for them to support.

Meanwhile, Andrew Yang’s supporters seem even more ravenously loyal, but, then again, how many Andrew Yang supporters did they find to ask?


And, finally, why do we care what they predict, since the same polling group predicted a Clinton landslide days before the 2016 election?

Meanwhile, people are still raging about “Bernie Bros” despite reports that the Russians had created and orchestrated a substantial portion of that pushback. 

People insist the Bernie Bros are real because they saw horrible messages from them, and yet they don’t explain how they were able to tell these weren’t from Russian bots and answer is that they see what they want to see.


Meanwhile, the fact that Dear Leader doesn’t know that the Kansas City Chiefs play their home games in Missouri — that two-thirds of the metro area is in that state — is a great source of mirth among those who don’t like him, while his fans explain that not being an expert in geography is no big deal.

I mean, it’s not like he can’t tell Ukraine from Bangladesh on a map.

I find this funny in light of Dear Leader’s bragging that he graduated with honors despite the fact that his commencement program makes no mention of it and he has gone to great lengths to make sure his grades remain as secret as his tax returns.

But the fact is, his followers don’t care, so, while his 16,000-plus lies may help motivate those who want to vote against him, they don’t seem to have any impact on those who support him.

Truth is secondary to perception in the on-line world, and arguing is futile.

There is really little real back-and-forth on Facebook or Twitter, because it’s mostly True Believers who, whichever camp they are in, will not be persuaded to switch. Or think.

And most people have curated their friends’ lists to the point where they mostly hear from people with whom they agree.


The major problem in all this being that, as noted in today’s Ben, we’ve built a substantial social commitment around Facebook.

I sometimes think I should pare my personal account down to family and people I know in three dimensions, and that could happen.

But I still need to maintain my business account in order to maintain an online presence in an online world. And I’d suggest that, even if you work in a 9-to-5 office setting, there is an element of promotion in your presence that happens online.

Even if all you gain from being online is having your colleagues at other places in the industry know who you are, it’s a necessity these days for any sort of advancement. My last four jobs have come from on-line referrals, two directly from on-line friends.

It’s how things work unless you are still laboring in the world of spatulas and paper hats, and perhaps even there.

The question isn’t whether you’ll be online but how you’ll control and regulate your online presence and identity. Being off the grid comes at a substantial price.


Though Stephen Collins suggests it’s really nothing new, the big difference being that Galileo was discovering reality in a world that still ran on myths, rather than discovering myths in an otherwise rational world.


But try to tell that to an on-line addict. This Andertoons would simply be a silly pun if it didn’t reflect something we’ve all seen and known.

And that we pretend applies to other people, never to us.

Here’s what I know: There is a real limit to how much you can go backwards.

I was in the produce section at the grocery store the other day and had a sudden memory of back when fruits and vegetables were only available in their own seasons, with, for instance, strawberries being something you saw in late spring/mid-summer and then not again for a year.

We weren’t, like our grandparents, subsisting on root vegetables, sauerkraut and salt beef through half the year, but we certainly weren’t getting grapes from Chile, either, nor were we offered five kinds of tomatoes.

Similarly, Facebook and Twitter are part of our lives. The question is how to deal with that, and, yes, it would be nice if Zuckerberg did not refuse to take down obvious lies or if reporting bots to Twitter resulted in their disappearance.

But there will be Chilean grapes at the grocery store, whether you buy them or not.

And simply walking away from Facebook and Twitter won’t make much of a change in the number of voters being regularly exposed to lies, propaganda and plain foolishness, and, whether you are on the grid or not, you’ll still have to live with their choices.