Anti-Social Media

by Brad Nelson12/13/17
You all know my reservations regarding this site. I don’t expect a social-media utopia. Nor do I want the mindless rabble of “democracy” where the lowest-common-denominator is the measure of all things.

Somewhere in between we can be civilized, smart, and yet be loosey-goosey enough to have some fun and be a little irreverent. But conservatism, at least for me, is not about expressing my dissatisfaction with life or compiling a never-ending laundry list of complaints.

That segues into an article my younger brother brought to my attention: Facebook Is ‘Ripping Apart’ Society, Former Executive Warns:

Last month, former Facebook president Sean Parker expressed fears over what the social network is “doing to our children’s brains.” It was developed to be addictive, he said, describing Facebook as a “social-validation feedback loop” that exploited weaknesses in the human psyche.

Now another Facebook alum has come out with deep regret over his involvement in the company’s work. This time it’s venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former head of user growth, who told the Stanford Graduate School of Business that he feels “tremendous guilt” over Facebook’s divisive role in society, as exploited by Russian agents in last year’s U.S. election.

He added that Facebook encourages “fake, brittle popularity,” leaving users feeling empty and needing another hit, and suggested that this “vicious circle” drives people to keep sharing posts that they think will gain other people’s approval.

He goes on to conclude:

“We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are.”

I think these online tools are what you make of them. You can take a hammer and beat yourself over the head with it or you can build a chest of drawers.

That said, it is best to sail one’s ship wide of what has become a social maelstrom — Facebook, Twitter, etc. I certainly have. And it’s not that I steer from stating my mind. Hardly. But Facebook and other social media are perhaps the best examples I can think of regarding what is written in Matthew 7:6: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

This is not, I repeat, not a “holier than thou” point I’m making. There are good, bad, better, and worse things in this world and only a fool (or liberal) thinks otherwise. It’s not “all good” as so many yutes have learned to parrot. Humans can, and will, screw up about anything.

But we are at our best when we leave “democracy” aside and, instead of acting like a needy rabble hell bent on positive feedback — including constantly posting online what you’re having that morning for breakfast — put our efforts into worthier causes.

I don’t think for a moment that StubbornThings has obtained the status of “worthy cause.” Purely rhetorical sites all suffer from the same disease. Words are cheap, and thus any site dedicated to words is too easily prone to cheapness. Some of my friends here, in back-channel talk, sometimes lament, “Sorry, Brad, that I haven’t posted much or used the site lately.” And I usually tell them something like, “Are you friggin’ crazy? By all means, don’t get addicted to this junk. When you have something you need to say, we’re here for you. Always. But there is no word quota. In fact, it is a very good thing to take time off and let your thoughts percolate.”

Facebook is like the equivalent of a wine-maker who forever is tasting his fermenting barrel of wine. Sipping. Sipping. Sipping. Always getting little tastes because he likes the taste, if only of grape juice. He cannot leave it be. He never does let a thought ferment enough to get wine. The cask is never full.

May your cask be full this Christmas. Enjoy the season.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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11 Responses to Anti-Social Media

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I’ve never gotten on either Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, though I do look at specific items there (such as Leeman Kessler’s thrice-weekly “Ask Lovecraft” on YouTube). It doesn’t sound like it would be wise to start doing so now. Who wants to risk becoming addicted to social media? Well, aside from a lot of fools (and callow youths).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I usually find myself on their only to exchange a quick message with someone, particularly if I don’t have their email. But the entire Facebook community is becoming somewhat of a running joke. For example, people all over the world are taking photos of their meals before eating them. I even read an article lately where one chef was rebelling because he realizef that it was degrading the food to try to make it look more photogenic for the Facebook-crazed diners.

      This all may be a type of harmless indulgence in Facebook, etc. East to laugh at and mock. And, well, it is particularly easy to laugh at and mock. But there is that aspect that Sean Parker is addressing. And like so many after-the-fact liberals, they’ll have no problem getting their riches from constructing these edifices, but damned if they’ll let their kids use them. The pontification comes after.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    I use Facebook but I don’t depend on it for information. I find it a quick way to keep up with a family scattered all over the country and the world. I believe that was the original intention. I don’t understand how anyone can actually make more of it than that.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Those are certainly useful and practical features of Facebook, Steve. And it’s not, of course, my purpose to acclaim, “Have you now, or have your ever, hit a ‘Like’ button on Facebook?”

      But a Christian, if not also a conservative or libertarian or Jew, is careful about what he or she puts into his or her (or its) body. And I want this site to be nourishing (nourishing of the funny bone as well). And I just think Facebook, at least for me, has long past the point of being nourishing. And I think other people are starting to come to that conclusion.

      It’s something to think about and to watch for. That’s all I’m saying. And I hope to hell you “Like” what I am saying.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        So a little of Facebook can be a good thing, depending on how one uses it — but a lot is almost certainly harmful.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          So a little of Facebook can be a good thing

          That reminds me of various detective/crime novels I’ve read lately. People used to take (perhaps still do) small amounts of strychnine and arsenic as “rejuvenators” and such. And from what I’ve read over the years, it’s quite possible that trace amounts of such things can be beneficial (or at least completely harmless). But many times people took much more than that and got quite sick.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I recall Watson in The Sign of Four discussing his medical advice to Mary Morstan, when he was badly flustered by her looks and personality. It included two medicines, one of them strychnine I believe, though he recommended the dosages wrongly.

            I will also note that James Maybrick regularly dosed himself with arsenic preparations, which led to his wife’s conviction for murder. Florence faced death, but wsa reprieved due to the mishandling of her trial by Judge Fitzjames Stephen.

            Incidentally, Maybrick is the supposed author of the Jack the Ripper diary that came out around 20 years ago — and they pointed out that in the famous photo of Mary Kelly torn apart on her bad, the wall has what looks like “JM” on it. (I verified that by checking another copy of the photo.) And Judge Stephen’s son, the misogynistic poet James K. Stephen, has also been a Jack the Ripper suspect.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Oh, you’re going to love this article: Logged Off: Meet the Teens Who Refuse to Use Social Media.

    Two or three people does not a trend make. Still, it’s a hopeful sign of some sanity retuning. And allow yours truly to note again that StubbornThings is almost always ahead of the curve in understanding today’s culture. Here’s something I said weeks or months ago about social media, confirmed by an astute yute:

    Like Amanuel, Jeremiah Johnson, 18, from Luton, grew weary of the pressures of sustaining an online persona. “It’s a competition for who can appear the happiest,” he says.

    The article is worth reading.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Most interesting, especially from a leftist journal like The Guardian. I guess some things really aren’t ideological. It’s nice that some are doing so because they see so many portrayals as dishonest. Doesn’t have to be that way. The difficult part for them may be finding others like them so that they can actually make friendships in person.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Here’s what a friend of mine said recently about Facebook, Timothy:

        FaceBook is fascinating, because it’s a bunch of people filtering life in a way that highlights everything they love and need, gives them the endless drug of affirmation, and the serotonin rush of mocking and punishing their perceived foes. Ganging up on their ideological adversaries and either shaming or humiliating them in public.

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