IMG_0569
Blog powered by Typepad

« Medley of malodorous musings | Main

Comments

Michael,
This is a really excellent essay. I like how you weave in spiritual concepts. I also agree with what you say.

We outlaw heroin and cocaine b/c they are addictive, damaging to mind and body, lower productivity and promote lifestyles that are deemed suboptimal. Why not examine social media in the same light.

With regards to the spiritual concepts you include in your reasoning, I think you are spot on there as well. I am highly critical of liberal ideology because I think it is all pie in the sky fantasies that are impractical in real life where the rubber meets the road. Liberals, in turn, believe that we must try to attain lofty goals and setting our sights any lower is to cave into darkness. One of these liberal notions is that "Diversity = strength". If even heaven doesn't believe that or work that way, how could it work on earth? As you say, we sure don't see diversity working in social media or politics.

It's nice - perhaps even noble - to strive to overcome natural forces of division. But is it intelligent? Is it even possible? This is where faith in an ideology battles with reality, where imagination butts against what is possible given psychic laws that we probably do not fully understand.

"One platform has been outlawed, but others are available."

I've read that Google+ is more civilized and higher-toned than Facebook. (I have an account, so that I can use my Google identity to post elsewhere without registering there, but I haven't posted there or viewed there.) It has a very clever interface, but there's a big learning curve.

There an even higher-toned, pay-subscription social site, The Well, founded by the Whole Earth Catalog people way back when. I participated a little bit about eight (??) years ago, but I disliked their primitive interface and I never felt chummy with the people there. (Ditto for Google+.)

About four years ago I gathered some print-outs regarding flaming and made some notes somewhere about a cure for it. I'll try to track them down and post a refined version, although I doubt I'll be successful within a year—my files are not properly sorted and labeled.

Cocaine and heroin aren’t outlawed though. In most places, in one form or another, they’re controlled (I know what you mean though).

There are appropriate uses for them. Outlawed or not, they’re still widely available so trying to control recreational use doesn’t seem to be working very well, despite the draconian penalties in many places.

I don’t think there’s a way to ban social media but there may be a way to make it sociable media. In the UK drink driving was socially acceptable for many years, it certainly isn’t now. Perhaps what we need is a campaign to improve peoples’ manners?

\\"People of similar beliefs, similar temperaments, similar levels of spiritual and emotional development cluster together in spheres manifested out of the collective unconscious of the inhabitants. Each community is essentially friction-free."//
-------------------------

Because of the holographic nature of the other side, Heaven, the separation that we experience in this life simply doesn't exist in the place we call heaven.

It has to do with that overwhelming oneness and connectedness so many near death experiences describe. Having "all knowledge" or access to "all knowledge." The things that separate us here don't exist in heaven because all the information in the entire universe is infinitely interconnected and there is no separation.

They say things like "I literally felt like I was the Universe" or "me and the universe were one." And "I had access to all knowledge" or "simply by thinking about a subject I knew all about it and all the information about that subject was downloaded into my consciousness in a 'bolus of information."

These things describe perfectly what Michael Talbot describes in his book The Holographic Universe. They corroborate one another. What these near death experiencers are describing sounds to me like the place we call heaven is the original holographic film from which our universe is projected from.

Mark Horton in his NDE description says "all I had to do was think of a time or place and I was there experiencing everything about that time and place." http://www.kuriakon00.com/celestial/nde/mark_horton.htm

Michael

It's all very well deciding that social media are damaging, and that they should be outlawed, and everyone's posts deleted. I'm not a fan of social media myself.

But, as a liberal, I think you should consider how you would feel if someone else - a government minister, for example - decided your blog posts were a Bad Thing, and that no one should be allowed to read them, and that indeed all record of them should be obliterated.

Winston Churchill once said that democracy was the worst form of government - apart from all the other forms that had been tried. I think the same is true of free speech.

I have had similar thoughts about the comments sections associated with news outlets. It seems to me that interactions in the comments sections are becoming a training ground for learning to be hateful and hurtful toward others and I think that carries over into daily life. It seems that some people who comment only want to criticize, degrade and ridicule others who simply make a comment. Since they can do this anonymously they may feel a sense of superiority since there are no repercussions for anything that is said. I don’t know but it seems to me that this is a sad state of affairs growing in this country where people have lost their sense of humor and fun and display an increasing lack of affinity for their fellow citizens. - AOD


Thanks for the new link, Art! The original link I had for Mark Horton's NDE led to a long-since expired website.

As far as social media goes, I agree with you Michael. I've tremendously curtailed my posting on Facebook, and though I follow a few people on Twitter, I never tweet. There was no swearing off vow, I've simply started to burn out on it.
Honestly - and I'm not blowing smoke here - you're about the only person I follow on Facebook who has a decent sense of humor and posts about interesting subjects. Your comments are always well thought through. Whether I agree with them or not is beside the point, they make for informative, compelling reading.
I think your point about the lack of voice inflection, body language and other social cues are a major problem, at least it is for me. I delete about a third of the comments I make because I realize they may not 'translate well'.
When people from such diverse social, psychological, economic, educational, ethnic, political, religious and philosophical worldviews get slammed into each other suddenly like what happens on social media, you no longer have a melting pot. What happens is more akin to a toxic cesspool. The normal unspoken social cues and barriers of society that keep the peace are nonexistent.

You make some excellent points, Michael: Your analogy of the heavenly spheres, where everyone of like-minds joins up, makes excellent sense, as I think free-for-all platforms like Facebook, Myspace, Livejournal, etc. have become quagmires where everyone has a soapbox to preach and shout whatever they want, and soon we're surrounded by people shouting until we can't hear anything else (and if you really want to see how hellish things can get, just take a look in the comments section of any Yahoo or pop news site article).

On the flip side, specialized platforms that focus on a specific topic seem to be more successful; social media sites that focus exclusively on one topic - whether gaming, films, and the spiritual (like this one) - seem to work better because they're based around sharing admiration and love of a specific topic. Those communities will inevitably do better than a community based around everyone trying their hardest be the nosiest.

With regards to Erik's comment about diversity, I think the spirit realm makes it work because there's more respect and acceptance for individual views; those with more destructive, chaotic views are separate from those who, while they may disagree with others, want to get along and not cause a fuss. The fact that there's no political parties - whether Democrat, Republican, etc. - with the power to pass laws making other people's lives harder probably helps, too.

I think you're going way *way* over the top.

Most of the arguments on facebook stem from differing political views on various issues. Outside of politics I haven't noticed a great deal of acrimony. But with politics people have always disagreed vehemently with each other. If it's tearing society apart, what's the evidence for this? Has violent crime increased in the past 10-15 years since the advent of social media? Are people less civil to each other, I mean in real life not over the net? In the real world what negative effects has there been? Maybe it's different in the USA to the UK where I live?

I love facebook, even though outside of politics I scarcely get any comments or likes. I like to give my thoughts on various issues. I like to make tongue in cheek remarks even though most people take such remarks seriously -- I just laugh inside to myself when they do. It's a convenient place to get all my links to interesting new webpages. I like the humourous videos.

This notion we should ban facebook and other social media is preposterous.

While I share many of the feelings you post here Michael. I don't want to see big brother banning a forum for us rabble to interact. Facebook has also had me down lately. I have been appalled and even wrote that I would hate to have my young adulthood and what I may have or may not have done brought up. I promise (and I posted this also) that my worldview from 1976 or 1980 would not give you a peek into my essential thoughts or manhood/personhood today. I thought that was a nice little post. But, I was attacked by conservatives as a nation destroying hippie and by liberal for not upholding the sanctity of a woman to be believed when she accuses a man.

But, let me say this. I have been able to follow author's and meet people that I would never have been able to talk with before. I have mended fences with my elderly father in a way that just wouldn't have happened if I hadn't (believe it or not) friended him on facebook and he replied "Son, I'm so glad to hear from you." I have been able to keep up with sports figures that I admire and talk with intelligent people from all over about topics that my family and friends just rolled their eyes at back in the day. Topics like Reincarnation or NDE's or people like Bernardo Kastrup and Dean Radin writhing books and articles. Also, there is this blog a writer named Prescott maintains that I have really good information and interaction with.
So, I vote no, don't ban or quit on social media just yet. However, the concerns you voice about the country and Bloody Kansas? I totally agree Michael.

A few quick replies.

1, I know it’s unlikely to the nth degree that social media will be banned. But I think it would be a good thing, if it were politically feasible.

2. I’m not at all sure the pernicious effects of social media have not been seen in the real world. Political violence is on the upswing. Many "fringe" types seem to have been triggered by a steady stream of social media posts reinforcing their obsessions. And would flash mobs be forming to harass public officials at restaurants if they couldn’t upload the resulting videos to Twitter?

3. The drunk driving campaign was only partly about education. A lot of it (in the US, at least) was about stiff legal penalties and aggressive enforcement. In other words, coercive government action.

4. Social media undeniably has its pluses. My argument is that the pluses are outweighed by the minuses.

5. I grant that my argument could be extended to blogs like this one, and even to the Internet in general. I think this is a slippery slope argument, though, with the same weaknesses of slippery slope arguments in general. Then again, are we so sure the world is better off with the Internet? Perhaps our quality of life was higher before we all got online.

Finally, a modest proposal: If you want to limit your exposure to social media, try deleting any relevant mobile apps. I’ve found that simply by deleting the Facebook app from my iPhone and iPad, I’m far less likely to visit Facebook. I can still get there via my browser, but without the app tempting me to click on it, I’m seldom inclined to check out my Facebook feed.

Another idea is to remove your social media log-in info from your saved passwords, so that you must enter it manually each time.

\\"I delete about a third of the comments I make because I realize they may not 'translate well'." - Rabbitdawg//
------------------

A couple of weeks ago I got a creepy phone call from some guy with an Indian accent. I immediately got a weird feeling about this guy and he said he was from my insurance company and he was going to give me some "free" stuff. Then he started asking me some personal questions and that's when I realized where and how he got the original information - it was me. And I figured out what the problem was - it was me. I am too trusting and this guy from Bombay or Calcutta or wherever he was from was trying to scam me and get me to open up even more.

I got to stifle myself. I got to quit being an idiot. There are some really evil people out there and they will hurt you if you let them. It scared me when I realized what that guy was trying to do and it scared me even more when I realized what a dufus I was.

Some 90-odd years ago Irving Babbitt wrote, in one of his books, that the world had become a whispering chamber—i.e., a place where ordinary speech can be heard at a distance; modern communications like radio and teletype were starting to put different parts of the world in close communication with one another. Then he said, What will happen if those words are ones of suspicion and hatred?

MP: Here's a relevant article, "America is living in James Madison's nightmare," at https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/james-madison-mob-rule/568351/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=politics-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20180912&silverid-ref=MzI2MjM2MjczNzcxS0

A quote: "Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have accelerated public discourse to warp speed, creating virtual versions of the mob. Inflammatory posts based on passion travel farther and faster than arguments based on reason. Rather than encouraging deliberation, mass media undermine it by creating bubbles and echo chambers in which citizens see only those opinions they already embrace."

Relevant and worth exploring are the ideas of Marshal McLuhan.

(https://www.marshallmcluhan.com/)

He is the originator of the phrase "The medium is the message". Another version that he coined was "The medium is the massage" (yes "massage" as in masseuse).

Not doing his ideas justice here, but a short summation is that the medium itself - tv, radio and film in his day - alters our understanding of reality as much, perhaps more, than the message being delivered by the medium.

I had almost forgotten about McLuhan until someone recently reminded about him. I wonder what he would have said about the internet and social media. He also coined the term "Global Village" that used to promote the internet in its nascent stages.

McLuhan did also talk about the medium being another form of banging tribal drums. Here's a follower's brief take and a vid of a very prescient McLuhan.

https://www.suzemuse.com/2010/03/what-marshall-mcluhan-knew-about-social-media/

Thanks Roger for that link.

I remember that there was an OOBE group on Usenet back in the day, which I used to visit after having become interested in the subject again - however, it also attracted plenty of negativity and on occasion pure nastiness from the sceptics (PZ Myers and fellow travellers) which was off-putting.

On balance, I think the internet as a whole has been a very good thing, but find the constant warring and ugliness on social media tiresome and unsettling. For me the answer was simple - I stopped using it, leaving the Facebook account dormant and permanently logging out of Twitter. Sticking to moderated forums and blogs - such as this excellent example - generally makes for a much more pleasant internet experience.

Art said, "A couple of weeks ago I got a creepy phone call from some guy with an Indian accent. I immediately got a weird feeling about this guy and he said he was from my insurance company and he was going to give me some "free" stuff."

I got that call too and I told him I didn't want any free stuff and said goodbye, hanging up the phone without listening to his reply. I said "Don't call me again" just before putting the handset on the receiver. One is really doing these callers a favor by cutting them short, because that saves them from wasting time.

\\"I got that call too and I told him I didn't want any free stuff and said goodbye, hanging up the phone without listening to his reply. I said "Don't call me again" just before putting the handset on the receiver." - Roger//
---------------------------

You must be smarter than me. I started talking to him. I guess I'm too gullible. I can't remember exactly what I said but I do remember it was like 2 or 3 sentences - but I'm pretty sure it wasn't any information. But I do know where he got the information he already had. It was a social media site where I had overshared.

Anyway I told him I didn't want his stuff and then hung up. If it happens to me again I hope I'll figure it out quicker and hang up faster. Sigh!

I'm often in Japan, where this sort of thing happens a lot, these days. The combination of a rapidly ageing society, where many elderly people now live alone, and a traditionally high-trust culture has made it easier for the phone and internet scammers.

Maybe this is a reflection of how a more interconnected world evolves. There are brief periods of very fast technological expansion and innovation, with human nature taking longer to adapt. The negative entities - scammers and cyber-bullies - are relatively quick to take advantage with every new development, but then everyone else increasingly uses coping strategies.

It's a bit like people from the countryside moving into a densely-populated new urban area, and learning to keep their doors locked or opting to live in a gated community - an imprecise analogy, perhaps.

I'd be open to an "all or nothing" type of ban. Meaning every form of free speech gets banned from the internet or nothing gets banned. Goddaddy, Typepad, Youtube, Vimeo, Blogspot. It all goes, or it doesn't. The internet just becomes like your TV and you look it and without interacting. I think it would be quite hypocritical to just ban one or two websites due to the vitriol that flows from them and not everything else.

I'll never understand why some people believe liberalism, social democracy, and progressivism is "pie in the sky," considering that it works pretty well in Western Europe and in our neighbor to the north. The United States has been implementing it since the early 1900s in the form of meat inspections (thanks Upton Sinclair), child labor laws, bridges, highways, the Hoover Dam, Social Security and Medicare, all of which the American public solidly supports. As for diversity being so bad, Native Americans had to put up with "diversity," too. Moreover, half the people complaining about it likely have ancestors who arrived here dirt poor just a generation or two ago. (And no, I'm not saying just anybody should be able to come to the U.S.)

(These people always also seem to have this strange worship of the "Free Hand of the Market," as if it's some sort of god that must not be offended if we tweak something here or there. No. It does not exist, and won't be mad.)

As for social media, I have no problem with it, except for Russian bots that have been purposefully sowing dissent in social media for the last several years as part of Putin's anti-America campaign. See: https://www.foxnews.com/tech/russian-bots-sow-social-upheaval-across-us-using-facebook-twitter-experts-say

[The following was] Posted on March 18, 2018 [on the “equality by lot” site at https://equalitybylot.com/2018/03/18/kialo-discussion-on-lottery/] by qcollective:

Kialo.com is a [pay] website featuring a form of debate that is unlike most discussion platforms on the internet. Instead of the usual bulletin format – where debates are often repeated, trolls derail discussions and things can get rather emotional – Kialo focuses on a tree structure. Each argument has pros and cons hanging beneath it. This has the benefit of being concise, the argument following a logical pattern and things tend to stay more focused.
Here’s a short [30 second] video on how it functions. https://youtu.be/g8eGsq19MZg

Here’s a link to its About page: https://www.kialo.com/about/. its home page is: https://www.kialo.com

Here’s an extract from a Financial Times article on it:

Kialo — Esperanto for “reason” — is a website that wants to be a hub for civilised debate — no shouting, rudeness or irrationality allowed.

The site, based in Brooklyn, New York, and Berlin, has been running for four months, and has more than 30,000 followers on social media. It will not reveal how many are signed up as debaters. But some are not only reading its mannerly discussions on topics of the day, but also taking part.

A debate on whether the US should remove Confederate memorials, flags and monuments from public spaces has attracted more than 3,000 contributors. Another discussion, on Catalan independence and conducted in Spanish, scored 1,000.

Contributions are concise and sharp. Mere comments that do not make a constructive point are not allowed

Among other subjects hotly — or gently — in contention: “Is The Last Jedi one of the weakest Star Wars movies so far?” and “Will sex robots advance sexual liberation?”.

High-school teachers and professors at universities including Harvard and Princeton are already using private areas of Kialo for class discussions and exercises in critical thinking and reasoning. For everyday debaters and for schools and universities, access is free.

Here’s a link to the Google results page for “Kialo”: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=kialo&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 Some of the quotees in the links are not happy with it.

A Wordpress blog by “Kleroterians” (from a Greek word) who are promoting “equality by lot” (aka sortition or demarchy) and have had surprising success in a half dozen countries, is at https://equalitybylot.com

A masterly piece of advocacy for sortition by H.L. Mencken can be found on it at https://equalitybylot.com/2018/10/06/mencken-a-purge-for-legislatures/#more-11206

One benefit of the system would be a decrease in overly heated commentary online—I hope.

Well, your site is more pleasing to the eye for me, though through the now defunct Panoramio (Google's) I discovered scads of amateur Nature photos as good as anything out there in publications...and shared'em on facebook! Your site has its appeal, and I hope you keep it that way.

Scanning over all this ever so quickly, Michael, found I agreed with at least Steve and Chris. Zuckerman's done a disservice selling off our info, and I believe he donated advisors to the Trump campaign...vastly more influential than Russia. The very least he owes the world is to hire more folks to patrol the platform. He's got enough money; ideally he should turn it into a public utility. But not with this admin; can't trust this one. So, it is what it is. My advice is not to join in with the bellum omnium contra omnes yourself. Choose no thing to war against, but campaign against fascism, Earth despoiling, neoliberalism, and war itself.

https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/10/09/the-good-censor-leaked-google-briefing-admits-abandonment-of-free-speech-for-safety-and-civility/

briefing leaked from Google HQ. contains some relevant statements

David Hutchison, I seriously doubt that Zuck tried to help elect Donald Trump. Zuck is hardly a friend of the GOP.

As for hiring more people to patrol Facebook, the problem is that those people will almost certainly squelch conservative viewpoints while allowing free rein for opinions on the left. The same would be true if Facebook became a public utility. Look at PBS and NPR – both uniformly liberal/progressive, with no ideological diversity allowed.

The best practical solution is the collapse of Facebook, Twitter, et al., in coming years. These monoliths look impregnable now, but AOL and Yahoo looked unassailable not so long ago. We can only hope that the "creative destruction" of the marketplace will continue, and that today's monopolies will be tomorrow’s has-beens.

Roger Knights, right on the heels of your comment about sortition (choosing public officials by lot) comes this news story about a guy who was prepared to die for the cause. He was building a 200 pound bomb to blow himself up on Election Day in hopes of publicizing the benefits of sortition.

He must be really, really sick of campaign commercials.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/new-york-man-wanted-blow-himself-national-mall-election-day-n918771

Thanks for letting my comment stand, Michael.

You're talking about unwinding probably the most Kafkaesque technologies imaginable, and once they get at all Kafkaesque, you definitely have a problem.

If you knew my home town and my home town newspaper...and if you're really opposed to monopolies...you'd probably conclude that writing letters to the editor round here exemplified the vainess of vanities in general...almost perfectly. Yet I come from a family where you write'em anyway. "Creative destruction" is a long time comin; just look at the social credit thing in China. What I'd like to see die the death in my lifetime is smart-phone-world...at least talk at dinner and do some hobby in the basement afterwards. Or do some really academic debate with someone over the desktop about vaccines. At least that way you might learn something. Don't care what they say...you can't type or text fast enough on these contraptions. Anyway, as it is I can't "learn" you anything, cause for the moment I've forgotten my source on the fb assistance given Trump. Did you, though, take any gander at all in terms of sources? https://duckduckgo.com/?q=facebook+gave+assistance+to+trump+campaign&t=h_&ia=web

The fellow recently arrested for planning to blow himself up on election day was Paul Rosenfield, who had had one article accepted for posting on the https:///EqualityByLot.com site that I recommended above. Here’s a comment I posted online about it.

Roger Knights:
Rosenfield’s article on EqualityByLot.com at https://equalitybylot.com/2015/03/21/paul-rosenfeld-the-extinction-of-politics/ drew 135 comments back in March 2015 but only one “Like,” and several thoughtful and unenthusiastic responses. Here are extracts from comments 2, 3 & 4:

“constitutionalism”: “The strategy for getting sortition used more is incremental. Use it more and more for making less important decisions, then for more important ones, until the public develops confidence in it.”

Keith Sutherland: “Absolutely. So let’s end all this prattling about abolishing “electoralism”. It won’t happen and, if Jon Roland and Raphael Sealey are right, it will only end in bloodshed.”

Yoram Gat: “Paul, Thanks – a very interesting article. I am not sure that I understand your argument, however. What about majority rule within an allotted chamber? Is that also not considered as leading to the “common good”? If not, how would common good be arrived at? In my opinion what we are arguing against is mass voting, not majority rule.”

Many of the regular contributors to the site are academics who have published in academic journals. They are mostly cautious about implementing sortition (i.e., in small steps) and, when implemented, usually advocate blending it in with existing institutions and practices (i.e., voting, existing legislatures, etc.) in some manner.

An egalitarian faction there is different: it wants a purely microcosm-type legislature with all power and few institutional limits or practices. But they argue their positions in an unheated (mostly), respectful (mostly) manner, as many of them are academics too. Both sides cite interesting historical literature on the topic—e.g., the fine details of the Athenian system.


Most of the comments in that thread involve those two factions arguing (in an educational way, for newbies) with each other about sortition in general, rather than discussing Rosenfield’s article, which was pretty incoherent.

If you go to that site’s home page at https://equalitybylot.com you’ll see a brief mention of the arrest and a few comments, the last of which is:

keithsutherland, on October 12, 2018 at 6:33 am said:
“We can only speculate as to his mental state and whether he was encouraged by anything he read on EbL, but I’m glad that he dismissed our blog as a (mere) ‘talking shop’.”

Scrolling down on the (WordPress blog) site from that entry you’ll encounter next three items I submitted:

The most recent is a plug for a book called “The Power of Scale: A Global History Approach,” followed by relevant quotes from Mencken and A.J. Nock.

Next is a link, https://goo.gl/Jw8Xfg, to Amazon’s “sortition” books page, where about 25 books on the topic are provided and linked to.

Last is a reprinted essay, “A Purge For Legislatures,” by H.L. Mencken, in which he proposes replacing politicians with randomly selected citizens. (This is not a plan I favor—I prefer that a random sample elect legislators, and only to a demi-legislature devoted to a specialized topic, so the demi-voters aren’t overwhelmed with the issues under discussion.) It’s at https://equalitybylot.com/2018/10/06/mencken-a-purge-for-legislatures/

Here’s an extract from Mencken::

The advantages that this system would offer are so vast and so obvious that I hesitate to venture into the banality of rehearsing them. It would in the first place, save the commonwealth the present excessive cost of elections, and make political campaigns unnecessary. It would in the second place, get rid of all the heart-burnings that now flow out of every contest at the polls, and block the reprisals and charges of fraud that now issue from the heart-burnings. It would, in the third place, fill all the State Legislatures with men of a peculiar and unprecedented cast of mind — men actually convinced that public service is a public burden, and not merely a private snap. And it would, in the fourth and most important place, completely dispose of the present degrading knee-bending and trading in votes, for nine-tenths of the legislators, having got into office unwillingly, would be eager only to finish their duties and go home, and even those who acquired a taste for the life would be unable to do anything to increase the probability, even by one chance in a million, of their reelection.

The disadvantages of the plan are very few, and most of them, I believe, yield readily to analysis. Do I hear argument that a miscellaneous gang of tin-roofers, delicatessen dealers and retired bookkeepers, chosen by hazard, would lack the vast knowledge of public affairs needed by makers of laws? Then I can only answer (a) that no such knowledge is actually necessary, and (b) that few, if any, of the existing legislators possess it. The great majority of public problems, indeed, are quite simple, and any man may be trusted to grasp their elements in ten days who may be — and is — trusted to unravel the obfuscations of two gangs of lawyers in the same time. In this department the so-called expertness of so-called experts is largely imaginary. My scheme would have the capital merit of barring them from the game. They would lose their present enormous advantages as a class, and so their class would tend to disappear.

Would that be a disservice to the state? Certainly not. On the contrary, it would be a service of the first magnitude, for the worst curse of democracy, as we suffer under it today, is that it makes public office a monopoly of a palpably inferior and ignoble group of men. They have to abase themselves in order to get it, and they have to keep on abasing themselves in order to hold it. The fact reflects itself in their general character, which is obviously low. They are men congenitally capable of cringing and dishonorable acts, else they would not have got into public life at all. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule among them, but how many? What I contend is simply that the number of such exceptions is bound to be smaller in the class of professional job-seekers than it is in any other class, or in the population in general. What I contend, second, is that choosing legislators from that population, by chance, would reduce immensely the proportion of such slimy men in the halls of legislation, and that the effects would be instantly visible in a great improvement in the justice and reasonableness of the laws.

Are juries ignorant? Then they are still intelligent enough to be entrusted with your life and mine. Are they venal? Then they are still honest enough to take our fortunes into their hands. Such is the fundamental law of the Germanic peoples, and it has worked for nearly a thousand years. I have launched my proposal that it be extended upward and onward, and the mood of constructive criticism passes from me. My plan belongs to any reformer who cares to lift it.

In other news, Google has just announced that it is shutting down Google+, which I recommended above.

As always, Michael, even when I disagree, you are thought-provoking!

My take:

1. When enough people want something, you can't ban it. It was tried with alcohol and pot. If it were banned in the US, people would use VPNs or whatever and use Chinese social media sites, etc.

2. Ban it or evolve through it? The New Ager in me suggests the latter.

3. Social media came into its own during a time of economic collapse and instability. I first was on Twitter and Facebook in 2008, literally as the economy was coming undone. We have not been seeing the best of people for reasons that I think are understandable.

4. Ian said, "Outside of politics I haven't noticed a great deal of acrimony." I agree. I think we are at a political turning point where traditional politics isn't working any more, and the economy isn't working any more for a significant percentage of the population. Conservatives are trying to fix things by going back to a past that never existed, and Liberals are trying to move forward bit by bit but are lacking in big ideas for forward motion (my personal take, obviously). Passions run high because people are POed at the stagnation when they can remember a time that was different and things seemed to work better.

If we can solve the political situation with some, you know, actual solutions, I think we will see social media calm down a bit.

5. Things can get better. Here's something funny. I first played chess online in 1998. When people would lose, they would let loose with immense fury and invective. Back then, as Roger reminds us, we called it "flaming"--a term that largely has gone by the wayside. Over time, I saw a noticeable decline in such behavior on Yahoo (where I played), even though there was virtually nothing in place to punish the offenders. It seemed that people had gotten it out of their system. People who had grown up never being able to show anonymous aggression (and thus very little aggression at all, in many cases) had the chance to do so and got tired of it over time. The people who are now growing up with the Internet will likely do so along the way.

6. Social media is still young. The WWW is still young. The basic infrastructure and the social practices that govern social media usage are still in their relative infancy. We can and will get better at it over time.

Just some thoughts for ya!

Matt, I concede that there is no realistic chance of banning social media ... but it would be nice if we could.

Yes, some people would seek out new, underground forums, but if the big mainstream outfits like Facebook and Twitter were gone, most of us would probably just live without social media.

I don’t see humans evolving. Fashions change, but our hardwired tendencies remain immutable. Anonymity and faceless interactions will always bring out the worst in most people. We may not use the term "flaming" anymore, but we still do it.

If a bad economy were responsible for online aggression, then the aggression would be largely gone by now, because the economy is doing great. Instead, our historically unprecedented affluence seems to be stoking the fires of resentment. Perhaps as we get more comfortable, we become less tolerant of even the slightest discomfort. Think of the Princess and the pea ...

Even if, in time, we could figure out how to use social media sanely, I’m not sure we have much time. The economy is very good, but the culture is rotten, and social media are only accelerating the rot.

If social media were to disappear tomorrow, that would not change a decadent culture. The rot and decay of the American culture began many years ago long before electronic social media, in the 1960s, perhaps beginning with the degradation of music, art, religion and morals of young people. I was a young adult in the 1960s and at the time, it all seemed to be such a good thing, a move toward more freedom, freedom of expression primarily. Many of us went gladly into a life of rebellion encouraged by a society that seemed to condone living with the absence of rules. Over the ensuing decades that freedom seems to have turned into an absence of order, of structure, of civility and respect for one's fellow human beings.

A country is only a good as its people and at this time the people of the United States of America need a lot of help. And, if the history of great societies provides us any clue to the future of the United States of America then it is likely that the rot and decay seen today will only get worse. - AOD

I’m actually pretty grateful for social media and stuff.
Besides, if we didn’t have social media, I would never have been able to find “skeptic” blogs to laugh at when I’m bored. ;)
Blogs like this:

http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/

BTW, this guy is convinced that the brain generates mind. That there is zero evidence for an afterlife.
And anyone who says otherwise, due to NDEs, OBEs, and other experiences, is just longing for an afterlife, uncomfortable about death, and can’t face reality.

I’ve actually been reading his blog for years just for laughs. :)

The latest on sortition (random selection of political bigshots):

Brett Hennig is the director and co-founder of the Sortition Foundation, an organization that promotes the use of random selection, or sortition, in government.

After spending years trying to influence political decisions from within the current political system, Hennig began researching other forms of democracy.

He landed on sortition as a viable solution to the problems facing democracy. He consolidated his research in his book, The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy.

Hennig holds a PhD in Astrophysics.


To hear his just-out TEDx talk on NPR, or read its transcript, click:
http://www.apr.org/post/brett-hennig-should-we-replace-politicians-random-citizens

I have often thought that maybe drafting people into Congress might provide a more representative government than the current one we have, seeming populated by those people who have great amounts of money and charm or who are supported by people who have great amounts of money and influence.

Technically the U.S. is a 'Constitutional Republic' but I get the idea when Mr. Hennig speaks about a democracy. Perhaps there should be an age requirement (retired people over 60 years old, maybe) for the Congressional draft much in the way that there was one for the military draft. People could refuse to be drafted if so desired but the current congressional salary and benefits might be a big incentive to participate for a couple of years or so. The selected representatives could then select the Senators from among their own ranks and subsequently the President could be selected from among the Senators. I believe that the original structure of the U.S. Constitution allowed this very thing or something similar but that it was later changed to the form we now have where Representatives, Senators and the President are elected by vote of electors representing the population of each state. - AOD

Yuck! I hit the wrong key and a draft was posted before I could correct it! I know that Representatives and Senators are not elected by 'electors'; only the President is. -AOD

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)