Tag Archives: social media

Free Speech on Defense

It has been over 10 months since like my last post. I thought that 2018 was going to be the year that I ramped up my blog, and early on I intended to start a video blog or YouTube channel. This was due largely in part to the insanity I was witnessing in the world around me in real life and online with regards to politics, society, and culture. You can tell how that turned out. Here I am less than a week from Christmas and aside from this, I have written just a single post this year, a review of Black Panther. Hardly the outcome I wanted, but the outcome I deserve. So why now am I jumping back into the fray after such a long sabbatical?

Insanity has reached a boiling point in my book, a book that may eventually get censored, or banned, or burned! The boiling point that has been reached is that even in the westernized, modernized, freedom loving United Stated of America, free speech is officially playing defense.

I never thought that I would need to defend freedom of speech. For all my life this was the golden value that connected everyone even if they vehemently disagreed on the things the other was freely speaking – that noble gesture that I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to death your right to say. That wasn’t a republican or conservative value, it wasn’t a democrat or liberal value, it was just an American value. Pearl clutchers from all sides have occasionally sprung up like weeds to try to censor this or that, but the overwhelming majority of Americans would be quick to mow right over that weed in defense of free speech.

LinkedIn (a service I am not particularly fond of) sent me an email today in which the subject line read “As an active contributor on LinkedIn, we want to hear what Big Ideas will define 2019” and while I normally send these types of things straight to the trash, I actually opened it up, out of curiosity. 2018 was a weird fucking year, what does 2019 hold in store? The list is quite long but if you skip to # 43 – We will ask ourselves hard questions about what free speech means – you’ll see what set me off.

Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Redfin, a real estate website that I use hourly, had this to say:

“This isn’t about the death of free speech on college campuses, which sometimes can’t find a hall to host a political provocateur on short notice. It’s about a deeper and more deeply fraught idea that has already been embraced by Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, that European-style censorship may be necessary. Maybe there are ideas so obnoxious, like the belief that the parents of students slain in a mass shooting are part of an anti-gun conspiracy, that we shouldn’t let them be amplified endlessly on the Internet.”

Fraught means a situation destined to result in something undesirable. This very succinctly sums up the ideas embraced by the aforementioned web presences of Twitter, YouTube (and parent company Alphabet), Facebook, and more. I wish that the list ended there, but it doesn’t. Apple, Amazon, PayPal, Patreon, and even Visa and banking institutions have jumped on board the censorship and deplatforming bandwagon. No, Mr. Kelman, there are not ideas so obnoxious that we should censor people.

For decades people have been allowed to claim the Jewish Holocaust didn’t happen, or the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Young Turks, or that 9/11 was an inside job, or even an online personality I like, Owen Benjamin, who thinks the moon landing never happened. The world has seven billion people, and the notion that on certain issues we need to get all them on board with groupthink to adhere to one side or else we need to censor them, is insanity and futility at it’s finest. The purpose of me writing this today is not to defend any issue, other than free speech itself.

One saving grace, or possibly a foot in the back door should he ever need to backpedal on what he say is this bit that immediately follows “Or maybe we should be uncomfortable that these censorship decisions are being made by a few tech leaders, who historically have had little interest in either the journalistic principles that have guided other media magnates, or the costs of paying human beings to gather and weigh facts.”

Part of the reason I think this is a foot in the door, and not a full-fledged commitment to free speech is because he doesn’t push all in. Anytime someone proposes “I believe in free speech, but” they don’t believe in free speech, and while he didn’t say but, it’s there in the subtext. Look at what he said and dissect it carefully. He didn’t say censorship was bad. He said this current bout of censorship makes him uncomfortable because of who is doing the censoring. What he said here was censoring people is fine so long as the people who are doing the censoring are 1) many, aka mob rule, 2) think in a way I deem appropriate. That’s what that was code for.

We shouldn’t be uncomfortable because these censorship decisions are being made by a few tech leaders, or a few assholes, or a few good people. We should be concerned they’re being made at all!

Here’s the icing on the cake. He concludes…

“It’s unclear to me how we quash or validate dangerous ideas except through vigorous, open debate, but even I have to admit that this hasn’t worked well recently.”

He talks about quashing ideas. But he doesn’t mean quashing ideas, he means, and specifically references quashing free speech. I can regurgitate the old rebukes and tropes… Sunlight is the best disinfectant, or the Streisand effect, or first they came for my neighbor, then they came for me, but I said nothing so blah blah blah.

What does that mean “this hasn’t worked well recently” ? The reason why we have free speech is because while each of us has our own asshole and opinion, none of knows for sure whether we are right or wrong, so we need to keep open the discussion, to keep the ideas flowing. For him to say this, means that he thinks he has it all figured, he has the right answer, and the fact that people are still propagating ideas he disagrees with, means that clearly the current system is faulty. These sheep still have views on issues that I don’t like, clearly we haven’t censored them enough.

The last sentence really ties it all together.

What we all know now is that the case for free speech is weaker now than it has been in 50 years.”

This is verbal hypnotism at it’s best, and if you didn’t catch it, you got hypnotized yourself.

What we all know, as if to assume that everyone agrees with what he’s about to say. We all agree, right? We all know, there’s no strong argument for free speech. We all know, this stance is right and the other stance is wrong. We all know the age of consent should be lowered to 11 so we can sodomize elementary school kids. Ya know what I mean? Right? Because I mean, come on, we all know.

No.

We don’t ‘all know’, because we don’t all agree that the case for free speech is weak.

The case for free speech is stronger now than it ever has been because for the first time in U.S. history, a country that historically leads the way in free speech, more people are starting to question it because the type of fuckery freely espoused by people like Mr. Kelman has made people yearn for the harness.

Consider my sabbatical over. I’m posting more often, and louder. I’m starting that damn YouTube channel. I’m getting off the sidelines and onto the field. Free speech is not on defense, it’s on offense, and its got one more person fighting in it’s corner.

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LinkedIn is Stupid

I’ll probably end up careening off course and trashing the rest of social media but my goal here is to tell you how fucking stupid LinkedIn is.

So a million years ago when I graduated college I made a LinkedIn account because “well gee whiz it’s what everyone’s doing and apparently you HAVE to have one to get a job so duurrrrrr” And here I am a million years later and I’ve updated and maintained it and filled in all those stupid little fields, and have like 18,000 contacts or connections or whatever the fuck it’s called and honestly I’ve never gained anything from it.

Yeah I know what you’re thinking. You have a LinkedIn account and you don’t want to face the fact it’s never helped improve your life or your career and then of course admit you’ve wasted dozens of hours of your life maintaining it, so rather than nodding your head in agreement you’re probably doubling down on its usefulness and hate me for saying it’s shit.

But shit is shit no matter how useful everyone says it is. LinkedIn is about as useful as Drano is for your home’s plumbing or as useful as Emergen-C is for your immune system.  Meaning it’s not. Or maybe at the very best sorta maaaaarginally useful.

But really though, think about it. If you’re like me you also have your LinkedIn profile. You have a couple hundred connections, 90% of whom you have no fucking idea who they are. You probably get your weekly LinkedIn email notifications that some random ass person you’ve never met wants to connect with you, and maybe you accept their invite… but only if they’re hot.

LinkedIn Profil Busty Girl
Make sure your LinkedIn profile really shows off your best… eh hem…. qualities.

Every so often out of the blue one of your friends +1’s on of your abilities/skills/qualifications and then you think “Oh cool!” and then you begrudgingly reciprocate and +1 one of their skills out of guilt, whether or not they actually do know how to use Microsoft Excel.

No matter your occupation, you probably get the occasional sales pitch for a ‘Sales Leads Generating Opportunity’ for only the most highly qualified professionals in your market which naturally got blasted to a quarter of a million other people.

And after all these years of updating your resume, and sharing links to articles you’ve never read but sounded important, you realize LinkedIn has never actually got you a job. It’s probably never even got you an interview. Or a referral.

Ask your friends if they’ve ever been hired exclusively from LinkedIn. You’ll hear a resounding no. How something so useless is so prevalent is beyond me. Kind of like degrees in psychology or communications.

The fact is LinkedIn sucks because it like so many other social networking services tries to replace something that is irreplaceable: Face to face human interaction. Maybe because I’ve always had so much success getting a job I never understood the difficulties people faced with it. I’ve never applied for a job and not been offered the position. No shit. The key to getting hired isn’t in LinkedIn. It’s not even your resume. No one is going to hire your resume. No one is hiring your LinkedIn profile. They’re hiring YOU. If your resume rocks, and your LinkedIn profile is stellar but you kinda suck, you’re not getting hired.

People are hired in bars. People are hired on the golf course and the putting green. People are hired at backyard barbeques. People are hired in the waiting room of restaurants. People are hired in hotel lobbies. People are hired at the mall. People are hired on ski lifts. People are hired in elevators. People are hired at birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. People are hired where real life social interactions take place. Not online. Not on your phone. Not behind some screen.

So if you want to get a job, if you want to network, if you want leads, go out and get them. Just don’t expect to get them online because LinkedIn sucks. And no, I don’t want to join your e-marketing group.

The New Whores of the 21st Century

Long gone are the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. You pedal your ass on the street corner and still call yourself a whore? That is so 1990’s. No, no, no. I’m not talking about actual whores / prostitutes / hookers. Whores have evolved since then. In fact, the word “whore” no longer exclusively refers to someone who sells sexual favors for money. In today’s common usage, a whore can be anyone who over indulges in something – usually something incredibly annoying. It can also mean women or men. Let me now introduce you to the new whores of the 21st Century!

Selfie Whore

The term Selfie didn’t exist last century. In fact, it was first coined in 2005, making it less than a decade old at the time of this writing. But despite selfies being so young, they have gained tons of popularity and notoriety in the “social media” world.

Now, don’t confuse a selfie with a self-portrait, as there is a huge difference. Self-portraits have been around for centuries, are tasteful, and are intended to accurately depict what’s going on. Selfies are more of a disease, in which the selfie taker feels the compulsion to take pictures of themselves from exaggerated angles and lighting, in weird or inappropriate places, poised with stupid faces, to deceive the viewer of said selfie. They also look incredibly ridiculous while attempting to take the selfie.

Just take this girl for example.

Instagram Whores

When selfie whores graduate, they rank up to become full on Instagram Whores. Why stop at taking photos of yourself, when you can take photos of absolutely everything?! Duck faces and bathroom shots are so amateur. Instagram whores have mastered the craft of taking photos of their legs, their food, their pregnant belly, the sky, and their friends’ shoes in a circle.

Remember when you’d go to Disneyland with your friends, and there would be an Asian tourist aiming their camera directly at the ground, taking a photo of the asphalt? And you would ponder to yourself “What the fuck are they taking a picture of?” We’ll fear not, because taking pictures of dumb shit has officially become the cultural norm.

Man photgraphing the ground
I’m getting the angle juuuuuuusssstttt right.

I think The Oatmeal described it best, with this list of 7 things you really don’t need to take a photo of.

Filter Whores

An off shoot of the Instagram Whore is the notorious Filter Whore. As if taking pictures of dumb shit wasn’t enough, these people have to lie about the dumb shit they are taking photos of by applying wanna-be Photoshop filters on every photo they take.

Another recent phenomenon is the use of the hashtag #nofilter. I find this particularly interesting, because people feel the need to clarify “This time, I’m not lying”. First of all, it’s interesting because most of the time people use #nofilter they are in fact still using a filter. “Oh right, I’m supposed to believe the sky is orange in your neighborhood, and over here at my house 4 miles away it’s blue.”

Beautiful sunset! #nofilter  riiiiiiiiiiigghhhhtt
Beautiful sunset! #nofilter riiiiiiiiiiigghhhhtt

I have a novel idea. How about when you don’t use a filter, you simply don’t tag your photo, and when you do use a filter, you fess up and tell everyone what filter you are using.

Hashtag Whore

That gives us a nice, smooth transition into the topic of the Hashtag Whore. Taking photos of yourself at weird angles, dumb shit, and even lying about it is not enough. No sir! The truly committed whores have also reveled in the dark arts, and learned of a new evil: The Hashtag.

Again, I’m not against hashtags. Their original function was pretty nifty, actually. By hashtagging a photo, you allow other web-goers to find similarly tagged photos and posts they may be interested in. It’s like a crowd sourced search engine. Fair enough.

But then, the true hashtag whores came out of the wood work and do this.

The most annoying couple you know
The most annoying couple you know

Attention Whore

If someone has mastered all of the above, then they are officially an Attention Whore. Attention whores engage in social media, but not to be social. Their entire existence revolves around the never ending need to seek out attention from everyone and everything by any means possible. Facebook? Sure. Instagram? Of course. Selfies? Who doesn’t! Pictures of your food? Because taste buds are so old fashioned! Filters? Reality isn’t good enough. GoPro? I’m a hero! Hashtags? The cherry on top.

Nothing is too small, stupid, or pointless to share with the world for this group. Expect pictures of everything and anything. The food, the sky, themselves, their feet, their legs, how they look in the morning, traffic conditions, their reflection, their food before they eat it, their food after they eat it, their dog, their cat, their baby, their baby bump, sunsets, and sunrises.

Attention Whore
Because what good is a picture of the beach without your feet?

Why enjoy things for the simple sake of enjoying them, when you can rub them in everyone’s face? If it exists, by golly, they’ll post that shit to Facebook and tag it to death. But fear not! If not enough people Like it, they’ll delete that shit and post it again tomorrow.

Go Fuck Your Selfie
Go Fuck Your #Selfie