Is Social Media Anti-social? I’m More Convinced Than Ever (Part II)

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As a veteran of the computer industry, lover of technology and all things robotic, perfectly prepared to worship our all-mighty robot overlords when they spring up from the A.I-verse, I still haven’t changed my perspective on social media. See: Anti-Social Media (Part I). It is the bane of the First World’s existence.

Social media is believed to lead to shortening attention spans, reducing our ability to read, analyse, and comprehend longer works, reducing our ability to gauge emotion, it’s reducing our empathy to our fellow man and increasing narcissistic tendencies all over the developed world. It might even contribute to global warming.  Just wanted to get that out there so if you are a standard social media user, you’ll understood where I was going before your attention…waned.

Social media is the scourge of our century the same way rock and roll affected our grandparents in the Fifties. And like Rock and Roll, it isn’t going anywhere soon.

Response to The Shut-In EconomyYes, I know the benefits of technology. I recognize it allows us to have friends outside of our geographical area. It lets us connect to people who share our ideals and beliefs. It can also allow us access to publishing and more permanent forms of information manipulation bringing us closer to people who we might not have ever met in the flesh.

Technology has brought us drones that deliver packages to our doorsteps or hellfire missiles to our enemies in whatever third-world nation managed to piss off Fox News and the government this week. Technology has also put people out of work, caused the Uberfication of the modern workplace where once highly employable folks are driven to desperate measures working as Uber drivers, Task Rabbits or Alfreds for overworked, overpaid yuppies who live in overpriced apartments while carrying too much educational debt and having nothing resembling a social life for all that money.

(NOTE: if you don’t read anything else, read the article linked also linked above “The Shut-in Economy.” It paints a picture of the modern workplace and economy of workers that investors are wanting to create more of almost certainly ensuring society spins further out of control as economic inequality escalates.)

However, Social media, for all of its potential benefits, including its participation in world shaking events such as the Arab Spring protests and subsequent uprisings and the Hong Kong Protests, still strikes me more as a tool for addiction development than a benefit to society as a whole. A wide array of opinions around social media addiction exists.

“Any application that provides variable and strong rewards and is regularly accessible is potentially addictive,” Dr. Olif Turel, an information systems and decision sciences professor at California State University at Fullerton, said in a statement. “With social media, you never know what friends have posted, so it encourages regular use.”

Be with the friends who are here.But this is just some over-educated scientist’s opinion. You know how oppressive science can be when it comes to opinion. But if your dinner table looks like our opening photograph or you have a basket at your front door insisting your friends drop their addiction at the door, with a note saying: Be with the friends who are here!  You know what I’m talking about.

No matter what we may think of social media overall, we cannot deny its increasing intrusiveness, its crushing of personal creativity and potentially devastating effects on our economy. It’s estimated social media may have cost as much as $650 billion in lost revenue nationwide just from the two largest social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter.

Why do I mention this at all? Most of you will not change your habits, no matter how much you know about social media’s ill effects on you, your friends, the world, your pets, your health and your life in general. This article is for those times when you find yourself wondering if you are spending too much time online, whether your social media may be affecting your life in a negative way, when you look around and wonder if anyone has ever warned you about the potential detrimental effects on you or your business, the answer can be: Yes. You were warned. Now get up. Open the blinds, behold the sun, squint, take a shower, put on some clothes. Go outside. Say hello to someone without using your fingers. Who knows, you might even make a friend, in real time, locally who might actually go with you to the movies…together.

Watch the incredible animated video that follows. This video puts social media in the light I believe it needs to be seen in. Done to the tune of Carmen, no less. Enjoy!

Enjoy the awesome infographic: Thumbnail image courtesy of iDream_in_Infrared.

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Banned books? People Still Read?

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The Written Word

The most powerful invention created by humanity right after fire, agriculture and the thrown rock (though not necessarily in that order).

The written word allows us to share information across time and space. To store ideas frozen for generations for new thinkers to review, revise, and even renew. Writing connects us with our past and with the future. From the Rosetta Stone to the Gutenberg Bible, writing consistently proved its value to Humanity again and again, allowing ideas, even forbidden ones, social and cultural taboos, their chance at immortality.

If they can get by the censors. For as long as we’ve been writing, there has been someone to say: Oh my god! You can’t write that! What if <insert sheltered group here> were to see this?

Censoring knowledge, hiding the written word is not new. Books can go from being literature to being banned in less than a generation. The Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath incited rage and banning soon after its release. Today, it is taught as a classic work of early American literature. Want to see a southern sixth grade teacher foam at the mouth? Mention teaching Huckleberry Finn and watch the foam fly. America’s on again, off again love of what is arguably an American classic, Huckleberry Finn, one of Mark Twain’s most famous works, falls into and out of grace like clockwork. The list of authors who have been banned might astound you. I happened to stumble upon this excellent infographic and wanted to share it with anyone who can appreciate just how good you have to be, to be considered BAD for post-literate America.

Post-literacy is the concept of a society where almost everyone is taught to read and no one feels compelled to actually engage in reading. An unfortunate part of the recent anti-intellectualism sweeping the nation. If even one book on this list makes you curious, READ IT. I have read most of them simply because I had a more diverse education than is taught in school today. But all of these books are still available and if someone deemed it worthy of banning, you should read it just because they don’t want you to.

And because TV is lowering your IQ just by being on when you’re in the same room with it.

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Banned Book image by http://www.printerinks.com/

Book censorship in the United States.” Wikipedia.org. N.p. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org> 

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Poster design is ©Paul Sizer/Sizer Design + Illustration

Taking the Battle to the Trolls; Rhetorically, of Course

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Logical or Rhetological Fallacies

With Internet troll-dom at an all-time high, with bloggers being paid to dishonestly haunt comments areas of well-trafficked websites to undermine and dispute perspectives they are paid to torpedo, it has become incumbent upon decent citizens of the Internet to be able to fight back using reason and logical thought. But what if you discover a perspective you do not understand or an argument which posits an idea you cannot mentally parse?

Odds are, it may contain logical fallacies which make the point without actually explaining how it got there. Logical fallacies undermine arguments by using a form of rhetorical shorthand which, to the unaware, seem to make logical assertions without the intervening logical steps being shown. Kind of like when you were a kid and your teacher would ask you to “show your work” on the math assignment you were given. Rhetorical fallacies skip over the work, by slight of hand, and leave you to present your case to the person while trying to handle their cognitively dissonant statements in your own head.

Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in your own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.

I arm you with this chart because of its beautiful simplicity, providing the name of the fallacy, what it means and a simple example of the fallacy. The types of fallacies are broken into sections: Appeal to the Mind, Appeal to Emotions, Faulty Deduction, Manipulating Content, Garbled Cause and Effect and On the Attack. I enjoyed the simple graphical icons associated with each, helping to further cement them into your subconsciousness. These fallacies are worth remembering particularly if you spend any time on the Internet or watching modern media.

Our thanks goes out to Informationisbeautiful.net and the charts creator, David McCanless. Kudos, sir!

As an exercise, take them to your favorite newscast and play “Spot the Fallacy” while you watch. Don’t make this a beer game unless your goal is to become very, very intoxicated…

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What the hell IS Net Neutrality?

15 Facts About Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has been part of the Internet language for years now. But recently, discussion of the sometimes difficult to grasp idea has ramped up significantly. What exactly IS, net neutrality? Why are people so worked up about it? (And if you aren’t you should be.)

John Oliver will help you understand what is really at risk. Yes, you will laugh, but he is deadly serious. But go ahead and laugh.

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Are you STILL looking for the Illuminati? Really?

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I say we organise a protest against how ineffectively the Illuminati secretly run the world.

Are you still looking through the internet at pictures and myths talking about the Illuminati? Are you still wondering about the triangular sign Beyonce made at some award ceremony?

Are you still hoping to discover facts about the mysterious shadow organization that is supposedly controlling the world’s resources for their own private amusement and domination over the human race and has done so for hundreds of years? Really?

If so, stop doing that. Stop right now. Why, you ask?

Because you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the Illuminati does not need to exist to do exactly what they are reputed to be doing. How about we look at what I call the Modern Illuminati and see what they’ve been doing RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES.

MODERN ILLUMINATI

We don’t need medieval shadow organizations to take over the world anymore. The world has already been taken over. If you want to see the architects of that world, take a look:

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)

Yes, their name means absolutely nothing. The organization claims:

“With over 2,000 members, ALEC is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, individual membership association of state legislators. ALEC is one of America’s most dynamic public-private partnerships with nearly 300 corporate and private foundation members. ALEC provides its public and private sector members with a unique opportunity to work together to develop policies and programs that effectively promote the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty.”

What ALEC really does is help corporations to determine how they may best avoid paying taxes, creating legislation to get around regulations and policies which control or mitigate the potential damage corporations may cause to people through their quest for profit.

If you want to look at an organization responsible for giving control of your world as you know it to people whose interest in the world is strictly profit-oriented, you need look no further than ALEC. ALEC and its backers are a direct pipeline to the world’s most powerful and elitist organizations, mega-corporations.

ALEC is the policy wing of the Modern Illuminati. They lobby government, they recruit and seduce legislators, they gather shadow monies and organize SuperPACs. ALEC holds councils where they create policy models which are beneficial to big businesses in a local region, and holding hands with legislators, they help craft legislation which often undermines unions, undermines the worker and their rights, and help corporations find new ways to avoid paying taxes or paying into the community adequate wages capable of sustaining a family.

BANKING AND FINANCE AND LEGISLATION (OH MY)

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Jamie Dimon (head of Goldman Sachs) before his testimony

The next member of the Modern Illuminati is the finance and banking architecture of the world at large. From creating money out of thin air to “reduce inflation” during the recession to making commodities out of junk in order to sell them to unsuspecting dupes at inflated prices.

These purchases were made with fraud in mind. Mind you we will never see anyone TRIED for fraud because what they did, these bundled commodities, violated no specific law on the books. However, no attempt was made to arrest the creators of these clearly bogus and overpriced “commodities” which drove the world into “austerity” which is another word for “screwing the poor while paying the rich”. This includes the mega-money corporations such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman’s Sach’s, HSBC, Bear-Sterns (RIP), who have been accused of a number of corporate crimes including insider trading, conflict of interest, fraud, money-laundering, price-fixing, and foreclosure abuses.

“In January 2013 the Federal Reserve announced that Goldman and Morgan Stanley would together pay $557 million to settle allegations of foreclosure abuses by their loan servicing operations (Goldman’s share was $330 million).”

That is a tiny bit of the giant pile of money spent by Goldman Sach’s in its predation on unsuspecting clients worldwide. Goldman Sach’s has billions in fees to avoid being held culpable for any wrongdoing. This is unfortunate because the message it sends is, if you have enough money and are in a position of economic power in the United States, you do not have to worry about going to jail. Your stay out of jail free card looks like a stack of Benjamin Franklins. All you need to be is “too big to fail” and you’re set.”

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Add to this mix, the lobbyists who work for major corporations, the Congressmen who become lobbyists before they return to being Congressmen only add to the confusion at figuring out whose on our side. The people who should be protecting your interests, since you voted to put them in office, are instead, making money serving as lobbyists which then empowers them to run for office. First they recommend the policy, then they clean up after it.

There are more millionaires in Congress than in the History of the United States. So if Congress isn’t looking out for you and the Supreme Court has basically been a tool of big corporations since the FEC vs Citizen’s United case which allows corporations to be treated a person with regard to how much money they can donate to a particular candidate. (But not when it’s time to throw someone into jail for assault, like when your unregulated, unmonitored silo dumps poisonous materials into your main water supply or coal ash, or oil spills…

So who is looking out for you and I?

The answer? No one. The Government is too divided, the people are too poor, and the rich just don’t give a damn. (Pass me some more of that Grey Poupon…)

MEDIA (BOUGHT AND PAID FOR)

Media Giants

Keep in mind, this chart is old…the landscape has changed quite a bit since it was first created.

Another leg of the Illuminati stool is the continued and pernicious attempts to control all forms of media communication and work toward complete domination of the Internet and all technologies connected to it. This battle appears to be all but won as Comcast recently purchased Time-Warner to become arguably the largest, most powerful and most influential cable company in America, having dominion over 30 million households cable options. Between Comcast controlling the cable-stream, NBC Universal (a subset of Comcast) and six major media houses owning the remaining 1200 media outlets in America, there is a complete lack of non-corporate, non-partisan news and reporting in the US.

We don’t need to look for the Illuminati.

They are already among us, putting people out of work, reducing their wages, increasing their prices, fostering dependency, manipulating media and mindsets, manipulating information, gathering data in order prevent any form of independent thinking.

Stop looking, we’ve found them. We know where they are. The question is: What are we going to do about them?

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I have a gun so I don’t NEED to vote…

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A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.
— Bill Clinton, August 28, 2013

Are there any words that can really rationalize this image? When I ask myself how do I show my priorities in my life? My priorities are shown by the ease, dedication and effort I direct toward those issues. If I want my house to be clean, I have to make an effort to do the work necessary to keep it clean and fresh. I throw out my trash regularly. I wash my dishes, after every meal. I sweep or vacuum on a regular schedule. I do a regularly schedule spring and fall clean. So when you come to my house, you recognize I place a value on cleanliness. There are no dishes in the sink, there is no trash stinking up the place, there is no trash sitting on my floor. Seems simple enough?

So by using this logic, it is safe to presume in most states of the nation, it is a higher priority to own a gun than it is to allow for voting. Voting, the right to have say in who runs for office in your nation. The people who will represent your needs to the government and decide how our mutually agreed upon taxes should be spent on things that benefit the nation and the people living within it.

A gun on the other hand seems to be a way of saying I don’t need to vote.

I have a gun.

I can, if I want to, fight against any government that I don’t like, don’t agree with and can along the way, shoot anyone who disagrees with my point of view and isn’t able to shoot me first.

I have a gun.

The gun violence in this nation doesn’t ever seem to go down, either. In the last month, there have been at least five accidental shootings by CHILDREN at other children. There was even an event where two children conspired to stab or shoot a fellow classmate who ANNOYED THEM. Let’s not forget the police shooting an innocent twelve year old who happened to be carrying a toy gun that looked too realistic to them, so their solution was to shoot him dead on the spot. No warning, no information exchanged, the boy’s life and his parents irrevocably changed because some officer decided:

I have a gun.

Is this what we have become? A nation of people whose first solution even at the delicate age of 12 or 13 is to simply assume killing the person who annoys them is AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE. What happened to getting support from teachers?

No. I have a gun.

What happened to teaching children to negotiate?

No need. I have a gun.

What happened to learning skills that result in resolution and cooperation.

Forget that. I HAVE A GUN.

And I have the right to bear arms or arm bears, into my supermarket, into my Starbucks, into my bar, where other alcoholic gun-toting citizens might, after having a few too many, conceivably decide to shoot someone who disagrees with their perspective because, after all, none of us have ever seen an angry or ugly drunk with poor self-control or anger management issues have we? Nope. Not once.

Let’s not forget the increasing incidence of road rage where the solution to being cut off in traffic is to follow that driver to the supermarket, wait until he gets out of his car and shoot him. Or in a recent incident, the two drivers drew down on each other and summarily killed each other. An appropriate solution to the problem of both road rage, gun possession and inappropriate responses to poor driving etiquette.

But to those two men in that moment, they felt they were obligated to resolve their problem the only way they knew how, the way their concealed weapons permits said they had to.

They had a gun. Problem solved.

But while American Congressmen, in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, don’t seem able to pass any kind of gun legislation that would stop the mad proliferation of guns into a populace already rife with guns, currently it is estimated there are 300 million guns in the United States at any given moment. Yes, nearly one gun for every man, woman and child in this nation.

Is there a reason America has this many guns? Did China indicate they were coming for American farmland and would not be deterred by the world’s most expensive military force? Has the rest of the world had enough of American imperialist behaviors (also know as our foreign policy) and decided they were bringing the fight to our doorstep (might seem appropriate since no foreign force has fought on American soil since the war of 1812)? Are we expecting an alien invasion?

There does not appear to be any effort being made to stem the tide of firearm possession, no matter how many military bases, school yards, office buildings, streets, urban areas, city parks, or government officials get shot. We are a nation of fools assuming having a gun was the same thing as having a vote. Meanwhile corrupt corporations keep gun ownership an issue in the public sphere while they plunder your pensions, cut and privatize what were once government services, making them less effective and more expensive in the same breath.

So I have to ask you citizens, what kind of future are we looking for? Are we looking for one where a real vote in a real democracy has the potential to make the nation we live in a better place? Or are we simply preparing for the day when we decide government isn’t making the nation safer and rushing off to our secret food bunkers where we can proclaim loudly to anyone who dares to approach in the New World Order of anarchy and self determination…

I HAVE A GUN, AND THERE AREN’T ANY LAWS TO PREVENT ME FROM USING IT!

Heaven help us all.