I have been thinking for some time about writing some social commentary posts, but not falling into the politics trap, though. Politics are divisive, but social commentary… well, it can also be divisive, but I do think is better suited for conversations that are focused on more long-term(ish) stuff. Today I wanna talk online discourse.
What I mean by online discourse is mainly discussion over the Internet, mostly over controversial stuff that is in the news. You know very perfectly which topics fall into that category, both globally as well as in your own country.
Yesterday I had an exchange of voice notes over… sighs WhatsApp… with a friend of mine who happens to be a transexual girl as well. I call it an exchange and not a conversation, because… I don’t know… a phone call is definitely the latter in my mind, but for some reason sending voice notes, even if it’s almost in real-time… doesn’t register to me as a conversation? My brain is old, maybe?
So, on to the contents of whatever that was. I’ll call my friend under the pseudonym Jennifer for the ease of writing this while also not disclosing her identity in any form.
Jennifer is younger than me and she’s been transitioning for more time than I’ve been. She’s quite the typical girl who tries to be very PC, shares the latest “trans memes,” and sees herself as a progressive. So far, so good.
The problem arises when she texts me that she’s got something to tell me, regarding her love life or something that happened to her, you name it. More often than not, the conflicts she experiences have a lot to do with real life not following the “truths” she had been told online. She once told me, crying, that she was a transphobe because she had been told she had to be attracted to a trans man just because he was trans. This kind of stuff makes me sick, to be honest. Are we policing feelings now? I don’t know where she was told to feel that bad about herself. But the truth was that she wasn’t into him, but online discourse had led her to trying to be with him… without her actually wanting to.
If that isn’t a kind of covert radicalization, you tell me. She’s got a good heart and she sort of knows that another friend of hers and me are always telling to consume less online stuff and stay tuned to reality… and most importantly, to shape her own views on what’s good for her in life and what’s not.
I also see this on the other side of the “aisle,” though. A couple of days ago I just watched a segment of Tim Pool’s program and I laughed at how he basically uses the same strategies someone like Sam Seder uses from the left. They’re closer to each other than they wanna admit, period. I guess it’s a sign of the times? But people seem to flock to whatever “strong” online outlet they feel will help them shape their frustrations into a “system” of beliefs.
And I consider myself a conservative… A Christian Conservative, but I can’t stand emotional manipulation even when it comes from “my” own side. I’ve been through deep manipulative relationships in my life, I know how much it hurts, and all I see now are the same patterns everywhere, both in corporate and independent media.
The same goes for the FOSS world. I think I’ll start to unfollow most people on FOSS social media and just keep those who do have some sort of actual contribution to FOSS, as small as it may be. There’s a whole lot of people who just spit out baseless propaganda to create a following based on emotions, us vs. them dynamics… Toxic, very toxic… and they usually know nothing about how things work or why they work like they do.
I guess the phenomenon isn’t new at all: charlatans, cult leaders, charismatic political leaders… they’ve always been there. The Internet has a quantitative power, though, that we hadn’t ever had in our hands before. Now we carry these voices literally in the palm of our hands! If this isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what it is, seriously.
We do need information. Living disconnected from everything is unrealistic to say the least. But do we need this much? How is it affecting us? How is it affecting me? That’s something I’d love to know in full depth, you know? And… how do I affect other people? I know I have a growing following… and I’m concerned about how I may also become a bad actor at any moment.
As a final note… I’m getting very hooked on retrocomputing YouTube channels lately.1 I didn’t get to experience most of the systems and technologies showcased on those channels, but I love watching them because they make me feel there was a time in which stuff made more sense. Technology was more limited, but to some point was healthier. When I see any of these YouTube hosts using, I don’t know… a Windows XP system, which isn’t as retro as you could get, I feel even in 2001 we had a healthier relationship with our systems. The Internet was a thing, and forums, chats, etc., were also there… but there were limits to it. The simple limit that we didn’t have a smartphone back then was already a good way to limit our exposition to some of the toxic dynamics.
I’m not sure if this post has made any sense. Just venting off while I don’t have any valuable technical stuff to share here. Wishing you all a great week and… I don’t know… just go offline a bit more. I’ll certainly try. Lots of love! 💝
Perifractic’s Retro Recipes, LGR, The 8-Bit Guy, 8 Bit Show and Tell, Cathode Ray Dude (although his scope goes beyond computing), to name a few. ↩︎