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Social Networks The Internet Politics

Silicon Valley 'Divided Society and Made Everyone Raging Mad', Argues Newsweek (newsweek.com) 320

"Anyone who is pissed off can now automatically find other people that are similarly pissed off," argues author Jamie Bartlett, in a new essay shared by Slashdot reader schwit1 which calls the internet "a bottomless well of available grievance." Here's an excerpt from Newsweek: Silicon Valley's utopians genuinely but mistakenly believe that more information and connection makes us more analytical and informed. But when faced with quinzigabytes of data, the human tendency is to simplify things. Information overload forces us to rely on simple algorithms to make sense of the overwhelming noise. This is why, just like the advertising industry that increasingly drives it, the internet is fundamentally an emotional medium that plays to our base instinct to reduce problems and take sides, whether like or don't like, my guy/not my guy, or simply good versus evil. It is no longer enough to disagree with someone, they must also be evil or stupid...

Nothing holds a tribe together like a dangerous enemy. That is the essence of identity politics gone bad: a universe of unbridgeable opinion between opposing tribes, whose differences are always highlighted, exaggerated, retweeted and shared. In the end, this leads us to ever more distinct and fragmented identities, all of us armed with solid data, righteous anger, a gutful of anger and a digital network of likeminded people. This is not total connectivity; it is total division.

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Silicon Valley 'Divided Society and Made Everyone Raging Mad', Argues Newsweek

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  • Meh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2017 @04:51PM (#55414409)

    > It is no longer enough to disagree with someone, they must also be evil or stupid...

    You'd think at least *some* people would be smart enough not to jump to such conclusions. There's gotta be some middle ground somewhere. So, I disagree and this is stupid.

    Oh, wait...

  • by locater16 ( 2326718 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @04:55PM (#55414423)
    "Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."
  • Well I'm glad that's all figured out. It's Obama's fault, right?
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      It’s the news media's fault.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:01PM (#55414443)

    What wasn't wrong yesterday is totally bigot, racist and sexist today. We live in the most sexist society ever.

    But if you look at the numbers, the real ones only thing that's happening is that over the past 30 years equality has become better.

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      But if you look at the numbers, the real ones only thing that's happening is that over the past 30 years equality has become better.

      The actresses making allegations against Harvey Weinstein actually concur. The interviews I've heard have them saying basically, "look, this is kindof how it's always been. Harvey was more bold than most, but sexism is the dirty secret no one liked bringing up in public."

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        And that is how it has always been and always will be: Men with a lot of power think they can get away with it, and women that want something from these men also think these men can get away with it. As neither will change, the problem will persist. That one or the other of these men will at some time lose most of his power and then the accusations will come flying is part of the ritual and generates a nice, temporary scandal that will change exactly nothing.

        This is not a problem that can be fixed. It is on

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:01PM (#55414445)
    The crazy shit going on is all due to a weak economy for the working class. The pro corporate folks have their knickers in a twist because they didn't expect Trump or Brexit and they're not sure how that's all going to play out. News flash, you can't have the cake and eat it too. Keep shitting on the working class and eventually they'll do something dumb. Probably another World War or they'll pick a minority for genocide.
    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:15PM (#55414517)

      It's just about degree. The costs of Globalism are largely born by the blue collar workers. Outsourcing IT is nothing compared to just moving multiple industries at the same time.

      They just need to adjust an exchange rate (or three) a few tens of points for the next decade.

      The real problem with 'managed anger' (kept just below boil), is that all governments do it, many with multiple groups. Eventually all the governments can't manage all the groups and ugly shit happens.

      Right now, the good path is all about China. But anyplace could be the trigger for the bad path. The post WWII baby boom is still a financial demographic bomb for 'the west'.

      • by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:42PM (#55414615) Homepage

        I agree that neither party is remotely ready for the impact of the baby boom fully retiring. A huge day of reckoning is looming when the baby boom asks for their Social Security and Medicare and then discover that the cupboard is bare and those IOU's at the Fed are worthless because the money has been spent. I have no clue how this will get resolved, but it is not going to be pretty.

        • I know how it will be resolved. Print even more money. The first step is easy to see.

          The question? What do people do when _all_ the major currencies are being printed like mad? I think 'land', but I always think 'land'. Some people always think 'gold', 'guns', 'single malt', which aren't bad ideas, if you've got land to keep them on.

          The English Pound is the canary. Worst in class. They are a good decade ahead of the pack.

          • Printing money will have two effects, first, it will make the nation (and everyone else's) debt disappear. Making the debt disappear removes the interest burden from the budget freeing up money for SS/Medicare. But the second effect is a major problem, it will also make the assets of the elderly disappear which might lead to an even worse outcome. At least without high inflation, they will still have those assets to pay for things the government drops the ball on.

            The only solution that makes everyone happy

            • This batch of 'elderly' aren't the same as the last. No bank CDs. Keep their assets illiquid and in a trust, just to game the tax system, Medicaid and inheritance. Last move of the baby boom. Mark my words, they will suck the government tit, till the end. Eventually they won't have enough votes to get what they want, but by then there will only be a few left.

              The problem is almost universal. The baby boom was far and wide, almost no nations actually saved money for their retirement.

              We don't have 20 year

              • It is political suicide to mess with the baby boom voting block. There are a lot of them and that group will turn out 90% if their benefits are going to be cut. Also, backlash like that is justified. I have been paying into SS/Medicare my entire life. I expect something back for those years of payments. If I don't get it I will certainly express my displeasure at the voting booth.

                Growth can really be juiced by changing immigration policies to favor younger, educated, wealthy people, but that is apparently p

                • Look forward to inflation shrunk benes, but be glad your not getting nothing. Like later generations will.

                  There simply aren't lines of relatively rich, educated, professional people waiting to immigrate anymore. Which isn't to say just open the doors wide.

                  Our best be is some other currency going bad first. That might buy us the time we need.

                • Peak year of baby boomer power will be 2029.

                  Which baby boom are you talking about? Most baby-boomers are around 65-70 right now. They will be dead by 2029.

                  • Most baby-boomers are around 65-70 right now. They will be dead by 2029.

                    That will only make them 77-82 which is hardly out of line for still being alive.

                • Peak year of baby boomer power will be 2029.

                  I expect it to be much earlier. I am a boomer, from the UK, so it might be different where you are, but ...

                  The majority of the people my age that I have stayed in contact with for over 20 years have died, despite the fact that we have the NHS (poor lifestyle choices but mostly not really bad - cancer the biggest killer for those that survived the rock and roll era).

                  Our "Social Security" system was a Ponzi scheme from day one, and was started by our grandparen

          • by mikael ( 484 )

            Governments don't "print more money". They borrow more money from the international bankers and add it to the national debt. Then taxes have to be raised to pay the interest on this debt. Plus the world economy has grown around the servicing of this debt through issued bonds, so even if the USA had the ability to pay off the national debt, it would nuke all those third world countries lending money to the USA.

        • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @10:38PM (#55415667)

          That's a massive amount of wrong condensed into a single paragraph.

          1. Social Security and Medicare are paid out of two different funding sources.

          2. Medicare has no expected shortage despite the Baby Boomers retiring. The taxes paid by GenX and Millennials will cover it, just like GenX and Boomer taxes paid for Silent/WWII-generation's Medicare.

          3. The Social Security Trust Fund is supposed to go bankrupt.

          It was created in 1983 in anticipation of the Boomers retiring. In the original design, Social Security benefits are paid out of the taxes collected today. That works as long as each generation is larger than the previous. When GenX turned out much smaller than the Boomers, there was a problem. Enter the trust fund. Boomers, GenX and now Millennials have been paying higher taxes over the last 34 years to build up a trust fund to cover the Boomers. And only the Boomers.

          After the Boomers, we go back to each generation being larger than the last. So we can go back to the ~2 younger generations funding the one older generation. (Technically, this will depend on how many kids the Millennials end up having. So far, so good on that front.). Under current projections, the Trust Fund will last until virtually all the Boomers have died of old age.

          4. There will not come a day where we suddenly have to pay the Social Security Trust Fund back, because we've already been paying the Trust Fund back. The Social Security Trust fund can only invest in US Bonds. Those bonds have a maturity date where the money has to be paid back. And that maturity date has already passed for some of the bonds. (The principal and interest were used to buy more bonds initially, at the moment some of the interest is being paid as benefits. Just as planned)

          So no, there will not be a sudden need for more money. There has been and will continue to be a gradual reduction in how many bonds the trust fund can buy. That could theoretically increase the deficit, but if you give a damn about that then fix it via the general fund instead of a Rube Goldberg design involving Social Security.

          6. If you really want the trust fund to continue to exist, the fix is incredibly easy - raise the cap on FICA taxes. Back when Social Security started, about 95% of income was subject to FICA taxes. Thanks to the growth of income inequality, only 70-someodd percent of income is subject to FICA taxes. The difference is caused by the wealthy making more money.

          In 2017, the cap is $127,200. $127,201 and up are not subject to Social Security taxes. So raise that cap to ~$200-250k and the trust fund lasts forever...not that it would actually be needed.

          7. Remember point 1 about Medicare and Social Security having different funding streams? Medicare taxes don't have the cap mentioned in 6. That's why it doesn't have a near-term funding problem.

          8. Attempting to balance the budget 30 years from now is an incredibly stupid exercise. We can't predict the economy 10 years from now with reasonable accuracy. You think we can nail 30 years?

          In summary, any pundit or politician giving dire warnings about insolvency and sudden repayment are lying to you in an attempt to convince you to support cuts.

          • The assumptions built into these systems require that the economy grows at a steady rate.

            We can grow the economy through labor pool growth, or through increasing labor productivity. Population growth is not the same thing as either of these things. Natural population growth is also not actually happening, we have sub-replacement birth rates in the US (this happens often). Our population growth is driven since the boomers mainly by immigration, which makes maintaining or growing our labor productivity very

            • Natural population growth is also not actually happening, we have sub-replacement birth rates in the US (this happens often)

              Nope. The US is one of the few western nations that is above replacement rate.

              Replacement rate is about 2.1 children per woman. The US is at about 2.3.

              GenX is much smaller than Millennials, and so far Millennials are producing a generation larger than themselves. Assuming this trend continues, we're good for the roughly 3 generations we can count after the Boomers. Obviously the children of Millennials could produce a small generation, but that is not something we can know for about 20 years.

              As a result

        • that's bullshit pushed on you by the very rich so they can take everything in the cupboard for themselves. Occam's Razor, look for the simplest solution: Which is you're being lied to.

          Let me ask you this: If America is supposed to be the greatest country in history why the hell can't we take care of our old? A: We don't want to. And by 'we' I mean our ruling elites, who have been pitting us against each other for thousands of years.
      • This makes me think of the movie "Hypernormalization" which is based on a faulty premise but which brings up the concept of "managed outcomes": Basically society falling apart and unmanageable but they just do minimal things to keep things from getting too extreme.

        Hence more and more criminals are being released on the streets. People are increasingly victimized by crimes committed by people who should never have been out of prison, and this is considered an acceptable consequence to the powers that be. M

    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:16PM (#55414519)
      That's only a small piece of the puzzle, and this is nothing new. American politics has always been divided to some degree because the first past the post system essentially guarantees that there be two big parties opposed to each other. The biggest change is that the internet has made it easier for people who would have never been able to organize previously to get together and build their own little digital enclaves. People can form communities more easily now than at and point in history and physical presence is no longer a requirement. This is incredibly awesome on the whole, but of course there are going to be bad outcomes as well.

      The other big problem is that the internet is entirely impersonal. If you put 99% of people who get pissed off at each other on the internet together in the real world, they'd be a lot more civil. It's pretty easy to forget that there's another human being at the other end of the online conversation when you're just starting at a screen. When there's a real person there, you start to pick up on all manner of body language cues that just don't exist online and can't just mentally write them off as Satan.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:28PM (#55414573)

        Let's face it, you can't physically assault me online. That's why people say whatever they want whenever they want. In real life, you start spouting enough stupid shit at enough people and eventually someone is going to punch you in the face.

        Most of us just walk away, but eventually someone won't.

    • by jlowery ( 47102 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:24PM (#55414981)

      Hmmm... now, why would American society be divided?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      For those who can't afford health care though working two jobs, the only way to keep them docile is to turn them against imaginary bogey men. This works, because they don't have an inkling as to how obscenely wealthy [theguardian.com] the 0.01% are.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The "elites" aren't one group though.

      Take Brexit, some really want it and think their wealth will be increased by it. Maybe the European market is too saturated for them and they want trade deals with other countries, maybe they want wages to be forced down further than austerity managed, maybe they are just idiots.

      Others are shitting themselves about the potential consequences, already moving parts of their business to the continent, desperately trying to get the government to steer us away from the cliff

  • by bferrell ( 253291 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:02PM (#55414453) Homepage Journal

    The future shock/shockwave rider effect writ large.

    I love how this effect was predicted in the late 60's

  • (D)ARPA developed the Internet without the help of Silicon Valley, which didn't exist (was named, for the pedantic) then.

    So, it's really a plot of the Military-Industrial Complex, who bought off universities to do the actual work!

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:09PM (#55414489) Homepage Journal

    However it rewards them if they try.

    Specifically social media, which is a massively distributed operant conditioning [wikipedia.org] machine which rewards people to conformity. Conformity to what? Here's the novel wrinkle: anything. The owners of social media don't really care where the bandwagon you jump on is going, as long as a lot of people jump on; people whom they will be able to sell.

    It's not access to information. It's the intrusion of information designed to trigger montetizable responses that's the problem.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:22PM (#55414549)

      Interesting operant conditioning basiclly describes perfectly shows like John Oliver.

      It goes like this:
              fact
              fact
              fact, with a sincere face
              lie
              joke
              loud pun or shout something
              serious face

      EXAMPLE:
              polar bears are cute
              polar bears are important
              here's a picture of a polar bear
              republicans want to kill all polar bears
              TIMOTHY STOP TRYING TO FUCK THE POLAR BEAR!
              But seriously, here's a picture of a dead baby seal

      This is how we consume 'news'. These shows have embraced the quick bites of youtube and twitter.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        This is how we consume 'news'. These shows have embraced the quick bites of youtube and twitter.

        This is really only a problem if that type of show is our primary (or worse, only) source to your news. It's why I got pretty worried when people told me they really only watch the Daily Show or thought it was a great news show with jokes. It wasn't supposed to be, it publicly claimed that's not what it was, but people used it that way anyway. Any infotainment / opinion show has similar problems.

    • People have demonstrated that it's easy to manipulate what is popular on sites like reddit?
  • The internet is a bottomless well of available grievance.

    SERENITY NOW! [wikipedia.org]

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:31PM (#55414587)

    Behold, the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [penny-arcade.com].

  • Fight, flight, or fornicate: 4chan, Travelocity & match.com.

    We thought we were building a WWW, but we ended up with an FFF.

  • Please, how big is this ? I stopped at yottabytes [wikipedia.org]...
  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:48PM (#55414631)

    Twitter is the ultimate source for lazy reporters. Need an opinion? Find it on twitter. They can find anyone saying anything and use them as a source.

    Twitter should be banned from reportage, period.

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @05:50PM (#55414643)

    "Anyone who is pissed off can now automatically find other people that are similarly pissed off," argues author Jamie Bartlett, in a new essay...

    This used to be the prerogative of essayists in newsmagazines. Now they feel marginalized by public access to rich sources of information and online pulpits far bullier than any fora they had available to them in the days when freedom of the press was only available to those who owned presses.

    • Technically the main annoyance they have, is they no longer get to control what (or who) people are pissed of *at*.

  • People who are pissed on . . .

  • Smart idealistic types really do a poor job predicting what under average types will do when new technology is made available to them. It's never idealistic.
  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @07:12PM (#55414929)

    No, it inherently *is* bad. It's inhuman, as it distills individual human identities into one monolithic gestalt where individuals are told who they must be and what they must do; and if they're not, then they're ostracized as "evil" and/or "stupid," who don't know and can't believe in what they're saying. "Identity" politics erases all identity in the service of low politics.

    • No, it inherently *is* bad. It's inhuman, as it distills individual human identities into one monolithic gestalt where individuals are told who they must be and what they must do; and if they're not, then they're ostracized as "evil" and/or "stupid," who don't know and can't believe in what they're saying. "Identity" politics erases all identity in the service of low politics.

      So, you're saying "identity politics" is the politically correct term for "religion"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I was also struck by this phrase. The author was on to something, but implying that identity politics sometimes can sometimes be good is laughable.
  • by Kargan ( 250092 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @08:33PM (#55415201) Homepage

    Silicon Valley's sense of humor is not for everyone, but come on, Newsweek, this is taking it a little too far.

    I mean, I'm not so sure either about the next season given that it will be the first one without T.J. Miller, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

  • In particular, social media made it much more obvious, how stupid, uneducated, anti-fact, anti-rational, self-absorbed, vivious and generally failures at existing many people are by giving them a low-effort way to spread their perverted views. But leave it to a journalist to blame the messenger. Incidentally, blaming the messenger is one of the most stupid acts known.

  • Better communication leads to better understanding. The original tower of Babel story, is that mankind was punished by being divided by many languages.
    True a dangerous enemy can unite a tribe, but it is much easier to paint an unknown group as dangerous than one that you can communicate with.
    Witness the story of the first world war where the Allied and German rank and file started exchanging Christmas gifts and singing carols. This so scared the officers (on both sides?) that they deliberately broke the tru

    • by iserlohn ( 49556 )

      I don't see that happening. We are on the Internet, not in forced misery in the trenches.

      When face physical danger together, we are bound by our humanity to choose survival. Military discipline exists to overcome this, reinforcing your tribal loyalties and antagonism against the enemy.

      Being detached from physical contact on the Internet, we can let our darkest thoughts take over and run rampant.

  • Who agrees with me?


    (and if you don't agree with me, you are evil and an idiot)
  • Traditional media has been taking a side more and more as well.

    Partisan organizations shouldn't be able to masquerade as impartial news organizations.

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