by Brad Nelson 12/13/17
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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