Shut Off Social Media! (and mob mentality)

I hate social media.

That shouldn’t shock anyone.

Unfortunately, in order to promote anything you have to be engaged in it to some degree. But I don’t give a shit about promoting this thing. I do this for my satisfaction only.

I’ve been trying to slowly wean myself off Facebook. In fact, I haven’t even checked it in several weeks. I forgot the password and I deleted that email account…so that’s really helped me out. I quit Twitter outright. I never belonged to Snapchat, Instagram, or anything else. Given the events of the last few months, I haven’t really had the inclination to pay attention to any of that crap.

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll continue to say it….social media serves no purpose except to feed our narcissistic sense of self. I’m sure that there’s many others that have said something similar.

“If that’s narcissistic, then what’s this blog Wes?” you ask.

The difference is that I don’t give a shit about impressing you. I try to be accurate with my facts, but I don’t care. I try to present a logical presentation of my thoughts, but if you don’t understand it or find it stupid, oh well!

But perhaps you’re right! Maybe this blog only exists to serve my narcissistic sense of purpose. Fine. Honestly, I’m too lazy to argue against you. But the difference is that this is an HONEST representation of my thoughts…correct or not. Plus, I don’t care if anyone reads it!

I don’t write to appeal to any audience…I only write shit that I WANT TO READ.

The purpose of Facebook and similar platforms is to present an image of yourself that you want others to see. It’s not realistic. It’s not true. Again, it’s only there to inflate your ego.

“But I use it to stay connected with friends.” You say.

No you don’t. You have selfies.

Social media has divided us more than bring us together. You’re not staying connected with friends. You’re only seeing a false portrait of them, and they of you. We find ourselves comparing our lives to a bullshit and impossible image others, and we are far more miserable because of it. And even worse, it’s become a replacement for actual interaction. And even worse THAN THAT, it feeds into our mob mentality!

The Orville is a pretty good show. I’m a Star Trek fan, so of course I enjoy it’s old-school Trek appeal. And like old-school Trek, it provides social commentary.

In a recent episode titled Majority Rule, the crew of the Orville attempt to retrieve a couple of anthropologists from a culture similar to 21st Century Earth. What they find is that the scientists became victims of the planet’s justice system, which functions similarly to an American Idol-like voting system where “criminals” are found committing socially inappropriate acts in public by others posting images of them on a widespread internet stream…or the “feed”. When caught, these offenders must engage in an “apology tour” where the public determines whether or not they are truly sorry for their actions. If their apologies aren’t found sufficient, then they must undergo a lobotomy-like procedure. Eventually, a crew member of the Orville is caught committing such an act (by humping a statue) and he must go through an apology tour which turns out disastrous.

In order to save him, the Orville enlists the help a girl currently living on this planet. By providing information as to how this “justice system” works, the Orville is able to retrieve their crew member and the girl learns a valuable lesson on “majority rule”.

This society also requires citizens to wear approve/disapprove badges that allow others to rate the behavior of people by pressing “approve” or “disapprove”. It’s implied that if someone receives so many “dislikes”, they become pariahs in society. In one scene, a woman is denied service at a restaurant because she has received over 500,000 dislikes in her lifetime. She would go on to plea her case to restaurant, claiming that she received most of those when she was young. This doesn’t sound all that dissimilar to our justice system, where felons are sometimes denied services regardless of when the crime was committed or if they fully paid their dues.

So this episode is a not-so subtle critique of our 21st Century society.

I was quite excited when I saw this episode. “Finally”, I though “someone is addressing my concerns for how future historians will evaluate how technology has effected our 21st Century mores, which in turn infused narcissism with our sense of politics and criminality therefore creating a social justice mentality that favors mob rule over any constitutionally-bound method of justice.” My thoughts verbatim. And after it aired, I wondered if the so-called “social justice warriors” thought the episode funny or if they found it a direct criticism of them….because honestly, there’s probably some people that favor this method of justice.

(For the record, I didn’t find this to be the funniest episode…just a clear-cut critique addressing the issues I’ve been discussing in this blog. The “SJWs” might not feel that it was a criticism of them, but there is a scene where an Orville crewmember gets “called out” for wearing a hat that seemingly didn’t belong to her culture, then she gets a dislike and narrowly avoids having an image of her being uploaded into the stream…a move that seemed stereotypical SJW)

If interpreted as so, then it’s easy to deflect this criticism by saying that the episode only provided an exaggerated picture of the SJW intention…which is to actually bring about awareness of social injustice by using methods of free speech to fight hateful free speech….therefore invalidating any concerns about “leftist suppression of free speech.” (or something like that). But, to me, this is essentially the leftist version of the same argument a racist asshole uses to defend his hate speech.

While on one side, such combative use of free speech is warranted (the leftist one) because it brings to light an injustice by “calling out” offenders. On the other side (the racist/alt-right one) is unwarranted because it contributes to ongoing suppression of minorities, groups, etc. What both sides fail to consider is the consequences it has on its target. It’s easy to sympathize with the target of racist hate speech because, well…they are the victim of hate speech! No one feels sorry for the piece of shit that got filmed saying the hate speech which later got posted on the internet and had several Yahoo and HuffPost articles written about it.

And why should we? They received a well-deserved lesson.

While a lesson was deserved, the intention SHOULD be that they correct their ways, apologize to their victims, and become and honorable well-intentioned citizen. That’s ideal at least. But then let’s consider that woman from the Orville that was banned from a restaurant for having too many dislikes from her youth….”justice” might’ve been delivered, but at the cost of social isolation for life? Whatever mistakes she made had to stick with her forever…quite literally in that her badge had the entire number of her dislikes.

It’s a cliché now: “what happens on the internet, stays on the internet”. Potential employers will Google your name. Anybody can search for you. Our online identities have become just as “real” as our actual living, breathing lives. Once when the internet passes judgement on you, it is impossible to overcome it. Which is why simply using free speech in it’s racist, sexist, and otherwise prejudice or even SOCIAL JUSTICE form is no longer easily dismissible as being simply “speech”…it has very REAL consequences on everybody involved.

We don’t interact face to face. What we know of others is what we read about them on the internet…which naturally doesn’t provide the full picture. If they do something to anger us, it fuels our narcissistic sense of outrage. And that can’t be easily shut off. This makes it easier to divide ourselves into Us. V. Them. Thus the internet fosters mob mentality.

At the end of Majority Rule, the girl that helped the Orville retrieve their crewmember awakens from her sleep. When entering the kitchen to watch another “apology tour” on her TV screen, instead of voting “approve” or “disapprove”, she simply turns off her TV.

The only way to stop this mob mentality is to not engage it.

Look, I’m not anti-internet. Clearly that’s ridiculous because you’re reading this on the internet! But this being the most important invention in the history of mankind, let’s not make it the instrument of our division and narcissism. With great power comes great responsibility…so let’s use it for more than just posting selfies, looking at porn, and hating each other.

 

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