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Great post, Michael. Much wisdom to it.

I listened to an interview with former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D- Hawaii) and she addresses the conflict and angst in our society quite well, with special insights from her time in DC. Worth a listen, IMO.

Too bad she didn't talk like that on the campaign trail. I would have had to have given her serious consideration over Trump.

I think a lot of social media users have a developed some form of PTSD. Recently I was posting some facts about healthcare access in the US. A forum member was upset over the "broken system" and claimed to be buried under $300,000 of healthcare debt. I very factually outlined how most people obtain coverage via their employer group, but for those that do not, there is Medicaid, the ACA and Medicare for seniors, how all of that works, etc. - that there is no good reason for anyone to not be covered except lack of information.

I had clearly stated my background to lend credence to what I had to say; masters degree in economics with a healthcare delivery focus, 20 years experience in healthcare insurance business analytics and, for the past 5 years, senior manager for a Fortune 100 company's ACA products within the wider government products division. I was just trying to be helpful because I know the market place can be confusing.

Within minutes people were replying that the system is "crap" and that I have "no idea" what I'm talking about. One guy said he knew more about the topic than I do because he had had a frustrating hour long conversation with an insurance broker when he was trying to purchase coverage. Some comments contained all caps sections with extra exclamation points.

I thought some people might have sincere questions and that I'd follow-up on them, but when I saw those crazy responses I went into instant anger mode. Words like "idiot!" flooded my mind. Images of punching an idiot in the nose danced gleefully through my inner vision. I had to stop and take a deep breath and decide whether or not I wanted to respond. Poison was dripping from my fingers as I reached out for the key board. Then I decided to be the better man and just drop it. If I had had a drink or two, I probably would have let fly and merely portrayed myself as an intolerant jerk as I have done many times on the internet - which is totally contrary to how I am in person/in real life. The internet is indeed a mad making uncivil place.

Looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of your book. Congrats on it's successful completion!

I like Tulsi quite a lot. She seems to be staking out a centrist position, perhaps in the expectation that extremism on both sides will wear out its welcome.

Cover looks good, Michael!

I haven't read the Alphabet book, but how does he deal with the issue of TV? TV broadcasting began in earnest in the US in 1948, and the decade-plus that followed was one of the most socially cohesive in the nation's history. Further, TV, at least in its early days seemed to be well-loved and not at the center of much or any conflict (i.e., not only was society cohesive but TV itself was not divisive).

In terms of extremism on left-leaning sites, I am a fan of in terms of its news stories and political perspective, but I don't participate in the comments because I don't like their tone and vibe. It's not nearly as bad as a left-wing Breitbart, but it's not good. And yes, you will find plenty of conspiracy-type thinking in the comments.

Matt, I read the book years ago, and I don’t seem to have it anymore, so I can’t recall how it addressed TV. I think, though, that TV played a pretty big role in the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement, both of which were certainly disruptive and destabilizing to the status quo (not all disruption is bad). Maybe if TV had been widely available at the time of the Korean War, there would have been mass protests against that conflict. I’m old enough to remember many serious debates about the influence of TV on society, a very controversial issue in the 1960s and '70s.

I don’t read Breitbart, which is too far to the right for me. It’s impossible to find an impartial news source anymore, so I gravitate toward sites that are right-of-center but not (IMO) out of control. Well, actually I think the Ace of Spades site *is* out of control, but I like some of the humor, so I still look in on it. And sometimes I look at American Thinker, a pro-Trump site on steroids, just to see what the most extreme Trump bitter-enders are saying.

I read somewhere, I think it was related to Bernays (or may have been written directly by Bernays) that TV changed everything. The visual image started to become more important than the message. The medium is the message (or massage, as it is sometimes stated)

Everyone should read Bernays - -

Most of what you think and feel about politics and societal issues has been put into your head by methods developed Bernays.

I often half-joke that social media is our Great Filter, that it will be what makes us one more species that fails to take to the stars.

But I think the root of this the need for self-affirmation beyond one's self. Politics used to be something you could discuss with your neighbor but has become a kind of Manichean brand identity. Physicalists tell us people are things, and corporations naturally lap this up and find new ways to incubate and then exploit insecurities.

It makes me think of something Colin Wilson said about parapsychology and why it matters ->

"Now it should be clear why I think that ‘the paranormal’ is of such immense importance. Here is one field that is untinged by contemporary pessimism. The clear message that emerges is that man possesses powers of which he is normally unaware.

As Richard Church watched the gardener wielding the axe, and noticed that the sound came after the blow, he says that he experienced a marvellous sense of freedom. His enemy so far had been ‘the drag of the earth’. Now he realised that he had been overestimating the enemy. It was at that moment that he made an instinctive effort and rose from the ground and glided about the room.

When man can clearly recognize the existence of these powers, and incorporate that recognition into his everyday awareness—so that he is no longer subject to a permanent ‘leakage’ of vitality—then he will suddenly have become a totally different kind of creature."

Congrats on the book release. Come Jan 19, one of the cha-chings you hear will be coming from my way. And thanks to Eric for mentioning Tulsi Gabbard again. She's awesome.

Schlain's book, one of my favorites, is centered on the shift from Goddess worship to God worship and how language abetted that movement. He does not address present day social media or the Internet. The oppression of females throughout history via language is a major theme.
Vows of silence are one way of counteracting the power of words and their implicit bias. The cliché, 'Those who know, don't talk and those who talk don't know.' comes to mind.

Your site is a breath of fresh air nowadays and a daily read for me.



Thanks, Richard. Yes, I believe Shlain's book came out before social media had really taken off.

I remember that he attributed the witch-burning hysteria in Europe and America to the influence of increasing literacy rates. The idea is that literacy leads to left-brain dominance, which encourages judgmentalism, absolutism, and even misogyny.

It’s one of those books, like Julian Jaynes's "Origin of Consciousness ...", that I think contain a kernel of truth despite being carried a bit too far.

Came across a good Sutra that shows where politicians, Big Tech, and corporate media lead us - problems that extend beyond this life ->

"Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating across lives & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans? Which is greater, the blood you have shed from having your heads cut off while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time, or the water in the four great oceans?

From an in-construable beginning comes lifetimes of transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating and wandering on. Just as a stick thrown up in the air lands sometimes on its base, sometimes on its side, sometimes on its tip; in the same way, beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, transmigrating and wandering on, sometimes go from this world to another world, sometimes come from another world to this.

Long have you thus experienced suffering, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabrications, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be seek Liberation."
-Siddhārtha Gautama

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