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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Quick Thoughts on Trump’s Upcoming Order About Internet Monopolies

August 13, 2019 3 comments

A few days ago, I started seeing articles about people within the Trump administration leaking various drafts of an upcoming executive order which would allegedly “break the internet”. Other presstitutes have written pieces about how this order would “censor” the internet, and still others claim it would be “illegal” or something along those lines. As usual, my thoughts on this topic are nuanced and about the larger picture as opposed to most clickbait-type ‘hot takes’ found on the internet. Also, I am not going to pretend knowledge about the final version of that executive order nor will my views on this topic be popular with everyone.

So let us start by talking about the real reason why we are even having this discussion. It is no secret that the public image of internet monopolies, tech companies and basically anything they touch has suffered an irreversible decline during the past decade. Remember how you used to believe about Google, Amazon, FakeBook, Twitter, Apple etc were “innovators” in 2008-2009? Remember that time when most of you believed that Google could make no mistake and how their search engine used to just work. It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when Google did not deliberately crappify their products through generations of bad design or shove unpopular and monopolistic changes down their user’s throats. They once even had OK customer service. I know the previous sentence is hard to believe.. but it is true.

While Google has gone down the proverbial shitter to become an inferior version of IBM from the 1960s, it is clearly not the only tech company which taken that route. Indeed, I cannot think of a single internet or tech company which has not become an unpopular, inferior and shittier version of itself over the past decade. Adobe, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, FakeBook, Cisco, Twitter, Apple and even Intel have become sorry excuses of what they used to be a decade ago. Sure.. they have become more profitable and made their upper management much richer, but have lost the battle for their public image. But why would this matter? After all, monopolies and oligopolies don’t have to care about what their customers think.. right?

Regrettably for their autistic founders and sterile drones.. I mean workers, public image matters- even if you are a monopoly or oligopoly. That is why totalitarian governments in “communist” eastern bloc countries fell so quickly in the late 1980s to early 1990s. That is also why ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ works so well in China. The ability to deliver adequately, on time and fulfill public expectations is the most important predictor of whether an organization or institution retains public trust and good will. But why is it important to retain good will, if (as some autists at Google believe) one can manipulate perceptions at will. Well.. for starters, you cannot manipulate public perception over any significant length of time. Isn’t that obvious by now?

The second reason is more important and, as you will soon see, goes to the heart of the issue. Turns out, popular legitimacy is extremely important for medium- to long- term survival of any institution. Without such legitimacy even the most tyrannical institutions become fragile and implode under the slightest external stresses. Ever wonder why people in China have a far higher opinion of their government than people in USA. Here is a clue.. look at photos of the same part of any city in China from 1990 and today. Now do the same for USA. It is important to note that people who grew up in USA between 1933 and 1974 have a far higher opinion of government because they saw it largely deliver what was promised.

But how is any of this relevant to a proposed executive order which would gut legal protection to large social media platforms currently granted under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. See.. if something like this had been proposed by even an allegedly popular president like Obama in 2008, 2012 or even 2014, it would have elicited massive public outrage. There would have a series of large movements against such an idea, and a groundswell of popular support for tech companies. Do you see anything like that now, and don’t forget that Trump is an unpopular president by historical standards. So what changed between 2012-2014 and 2019? Well.. a lot, and none of it has helped the public image of internet and tech monopolies.

The precise moment when people started hating internet and tech monopolies varies from person to person, but here are some important milestones. For some, it was the progressive crapification of google maps and email starting sometime in 2012. For others, it was the SJW-led censorship in the wake of Gamergate in 2013. Many detested the underhanded tactics used by Microsoft to push Windoze 10 (aka spyware as operating system) on its customer base starting 2015. Others were mortified by Snowden’s disclosure about the nexus between large tech corporations and government surveillance agencies in 2013. Others started hating them after learning about how most smartphone apps spy on their users without explicit consent.

Still others got tired of a seemingly endless series of hostile site redesigns. Some got burned by interactions with Amazon, Paypal, Yelp, Uber and other “darlings” of tech sector. Many others have come to hate these corporations because of how they constantly mistreat and abuse their customers and this includes everyone from Microsoft and Apple to all those “voice assistants” which spy on you 24/7. Then there is Internet of Shit.. I mean Internet of Things, an idea so horrendous from a security viewpoint that I am still not sure whether anybody who buys “connected” and “smart” devices has any capacity for rational thought. And we haven’t even talked about arbitrary censorship etc on social media and sites such as YouTube.

To make a very long story short, internet and tech monopolies are now so hated and despised that a significant minority would vote for a presidential candidate whose sole campaign promise was to torture and kill anybody and everybody associated with this deeply tainted sector of the economy. And this is the environment in which Trump is going to sign his executive order about regulation internet monopolies in the near future. Regardless of how bad a solution his stupid flunkies come up with, it will be widely seen as good- if only because it shits on the aspy losers in Silly Valley and Seattle. And we have seen this dynamic before.. in 2016.

As some of you might remember, I was able to predict Trump winning the republican nomination and presidency because of my ability to sense the depth of hatred, contempt and disgust most people felt towards all those establishment parasites.. I mean politicians. It was this popular hatred for, and lack of trust in, certain institutions which allowed that orange conman to defeat 16 republicans and then HRC. We are likely to see a repeat of this, where even the most ineffectual and counterproductive legislation by Trump will be welcomed by a majority of people just because they enjoy seeing somebody finally kick Silly Valley types in the balls.

I cannot resist pointing out that the democratic party had multiple opportunities over the last decade (and even past 2 years) to start reigning in internet and tech monopolies. But they did no such thing, given how much Silly Valley contributes to their party. In fact, Obama went further than doing nothing and encouraged consolidation in tech sector and turned a blind eye to their ever increasing abuses. Let me make another prediction.. most people are going to get boners watching the aspy losers of internet and tech monopolies squeal like a pig after such an executive order is passed- even if its bad, stupid and dangerous in the long-term.

What do you think? Comments?

Ubiquitous Social Media Creates an Abundance of Dancing Monkeys

November 16, 2018 26 comments

Over the past decade, I have noticed the rapid growth of a peculiar trend concerning the manner in which people interact with those around them. Almost everyone and their dog (in many cases, literally) wants to create and project an artificial idealized image of themselves. While this trend is most obvious when you look around on Instagram, but it found on every social media platform (YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder etc) and more worryingly.. in real life. To be clear, I am not suggesting that the desire to project an idealized image of oneself is something new or inherently dangerous. It is however hard to deny that ubiquitous social media has made what was once a small-scale and localized behavior into something that is disturbing and potentially dangerous.

To understand what I am talking about, let us go back a little in history to a TV program known as “America’s Funniest Home Videos“. While the concept might seem quaint today, most people do not understand how revolutionary it really was in 1989. In a single stroke, it allowed anybody with a camcorder who was lucky or clever enough to film a “viral” video clip to become famous and even make some money. I should point out that this was in an era when becoming famous required a combination of luck and fellating the people who owned and ran media outlets. Now any person with some degree of understanding of how media worked could use that knowledge to game the system and become famous and even make some money.

But why is that such a bad thing? Who does not want to be famous and rich? In my opinion, the problem lies not so much with seeking fame and fortune as how it all of this interacts with late capitalism. See.. when AFHV came out in 1989, it was still pretty easy to get a decent and fairly stable job which paid enough to live a middle-class lifestyle. Being famous by having your “viral” video clip shown on AFHV was akin to getting an extra boost for your social life. Being a famous (or infamous) public figure was not a career choice for most people. Now fast forward to 2018 and we are in a situation where ‘normal’ jobs and vocations are increasingly difficult to get and almost everyone below a certain age is juggling multiple low-paid and precarious jobs.

To help readers understand why this trend is disturbing and potentially dangerous, let me ask you a simple question- would you seriously consider gambling at casinos, buying lottery tickets or betting on horses as a career choice? If not, why not? While it is possible to make a living and even get rich by engaging in such activities- the chances of succeeding in them (especially in a consistent manner) are really small. In other words, the chances of failure are unacceptably high for the vast majority of people- and even those with some skill are not consistently successful. Coincidentally the same is true for business ventures, even though the neo-liberal scammers who want to promote the snake-oil of “entrepreneurship” would like you to believe otherwise.

It is no secret that a few people have become very famous and rich because of their social media presence. Even more have become semi-famous and make decent if unstable income from the content they create as well as their social media presence. Neither would be an issue if we were living in a normal society. But we live in late capitalism where the vast majority of people face an ever diminishing chance of finding a stable livelihood. Combine this with the almost lottery like success of a few and it is not hard to see how many more might be suckered into believing that they have a chance at fame and riches. Furthermore, the barriers to entry are non-existent and most famous internet celebrities are not even unusually good-looking.

There is also another uniquely american issue which makes this far worse than necessary. As many of you know, american culture (especially post-1980) celebrates the culture of scamming.. I mean “hustle”. Now combine this with the already poor career prospects for most people and the low barrier for entry and you can start to see how this could become problematic. And it has.. YouTube channels where attractive women model swimwear and lingerie can easily get 100k-500k subscribers (example 1, example 2 and example 3) as can ugly women pretend to be white trash. Some of you might also have heard about attractive and popular teen girls making decent money as social media “influencers”. But why is any of this problematic in the long run?

well.. because, for one, it creates a society where the ability to cultivate a public image and bullshit is infinitely more important than actual knowledge or competence. That is how we end up with media savvy mediocrities such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ernest Moniz instead of Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman. That is how we get endless and insipid reboots of older beloved movies and TV shows rather than anything new and path-breaking. That is also how we get other mediocrities such as atrocious and hyped “collaborations” between previously famous musicians or autotuned losers who look and sound the same. Did I mention the sad losers who cheer on charlatans pimping 30-40 year old technology such as Elon Musk?

Eventually you end up with a society full of con-artists (of varying skill levels) engaged in a constant struggle to ‘out-con’ each other. To be fair, this process was already underway in USA. It is just that the effect of ubiquitous social media on this trend has been analogous to spraying a lot of gasoline on an already destructive fire. But what does any of this have to do with creating large numbers of dancing monkeys, and what do I mean by that term? Well.. dancing monkeys are people whose livelihood is heavily dependent on their enthusiasticness of their performance. This is especially apparent on social media platforms like Twitter and FaceBook where people spend inordinate amounts of time and effort to make themselves look and act the part.

That is why, for example, every establishment journalists is perpetually cheering on the “mueller investigation” or how con-artists supported by right-wing think tanks see deep state conspiracies behind every audible fart. That is also why SJWs spend so much time on tone-policing, doxxing “unbelievers” and other acts of fake self-righteousness. And there is paid astroturfing and bot-farms who post content on those and other platforms. But it gets worse.. ever wondered how the gmail user-interface keeps getting worse or why install size of iOS keeps on increasing despite lack of new features? Oh how Microsoft keeps releasing shittier updates to Windoze 10?

Guess what… it is all about dancing monkeys (in the management) desperately wanting to create the appearance of effort and hard work. That is why, almost every day, you hear about some fire or police department participate in a make-a-wish for some dying kid. Or why PR departments of “famous” universities put out daily press releases about how their scholars are on the verge of curing cancer or solving some other problem- and then we hear nothing more about it till they recycle the same bullshit template a couple of weeks with different names and a slightly different writeup. As I said before, this problem is not new but it is undeniable that ubiquitous social media has made it significantly worse by speeding up the contradictions inherent in late capitalism.

What do you think? Comments?