The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Internet Is Making You Crazy

Posted on | May 18, 2019 | 1 Comment


One way to drive yourself crazy is to become obsessed with a problem that is too large, or too distant, for you to influence the outcome — famine in Africa, global warming, “white supremacy,” etc. This is what Jordan Peterson’s “clean your room” advice to young people is about, correcting the “activist” mentality that plagues modern youth:

“Don’t be fixing up the economy, 18-year-olds. You don’t know anything about the economy. It’s a massive complex machine beyond anyone’s understanding and you mess with at your peril. So can you even clean up your own room? No. Well you think about that. You should think about that, because if you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world?”

Teaching young people to be like Mrs. Jellyby was always a bad idea, and it has been exacerbated by social media, where hashtags become a substitute for rational argument, and kids think they’re changing the world by re-tweeting a liberal celebrity’s message. Those of us who were adults before the Internet existed — I’m 59 — have difficulty understanding how the social-media environment has reshaped the minds of young people, who cannot remember a world before Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, Tumblr and Pornhub. Speaking of which . . .

Pornhub said [May 2] it is “extremely interested” in buying Tumblr, a blogging platform once notorious for the pornography it fostered before it banned adult content last year.
“We’ve long been dismayed that such measures were taken to eradicate erotic communities on the platform, leaving many individuals without an asylum through which they could comfortably peruse adult content,” Corey Price, vice president at Pornhub, said in a statement.
The statement follows Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon is looking to offload Tumblr after failing to meet revenue targets. Verizon wound up with Tumblr as part of its acquisition of Yahoo in 2017. Yahoo bought the then-fast-growing blogging platform for $1.1 billion in cash back in 2013.

As I have previously noted, Tumblr is “effectively worthless.” Once hailed as an innovative platform, the site was wrecked by a social-justice warrior (SJW) mentality that disdained advertising revenue, and its blogging-for-dumb-people system where users could create the appearance of engagement merely by “reblogging” other people’s content. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s billion-dollar purchase of Tumblr was one of the biggest blunders in Silicon Valley history, and the fact that Pornhub might end up owning Tumblr is deeply ironic, considering that Tumblr also hosts some of the most strident radical feminists online.

Tumblr has so many problems, it’s impossible to describe them all. In 2013, nearly half of Tumblr’s users were age 16-24, and that youth vibe was why the site was considered a hot commodity. But much of that audience has been lost to other sites — primarily Twitter and Instagram — and Tumblr’s problems intensified last November after they got hit with accusations of hosting child pornography. Because the site didn’t have enough staff to properly monitor content, Tumblr announced a ban that effectively prohibited all nudity on the site, using some kind of software that flagged as “inappropriate” content that was not even remotely pornographic. The Internet reacted harshly: “Tumblr banning porn is like KFC banning chicken.” The site started shedding users rapidly, and by March, had lost nearly a third of its traffic.

You might think the Tumblr implosion would make other social-media firms think about the downside risk, but Facebook and Twitter continue stumbling forward as if their monopolistic hegemony were secure. However, Professor Glenn Reynolds is sounding the alarm:

Right now, it almost seems as if the social media world was designed to spread viruses of the mind. And that’s probably because it was. While in the earlier days of the internet, ideas spread faster than before, today in the walled gardens of social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or especially Twitter, ideas spread much, much faster, and with less time for rumination or consideration, than ever before. And that’s by design, as social media companies use algorithms that promote posts based on ‘engagement’ — which typically means users’ emotional reactions — and ‘share’ buttons allow each user to pass them on to hundreds or thousands of friends, who can then do the same. This repeated sharing and resharing can produce a chain reaction reminiscent of a nuclear reactor with the control rods removed. . . .

Read the whole thing. It’s an excerpt from Professor Reynolds’s forthcoming book, The Social Media Upheaval.



One Response to “The Internet Is Making You Crazy”

  1. Around the traps. – Dark Brightness
    May 18th, 2019 @ 5:30 pm

    […] leaders do not. They lie, and align with liars. What we though, instinctively, is now well known, and we are ignoring those who call any dissension […]