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Social Media is a Toilet

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Here we go again, another political cycle. The Presidential Election.

Except this time, in 2020, with Trump having destroyed most of our time-honored traditions and images of the Presidency, it’s more important than ever to be a critical, intelligent voter.

Aaron Sorkin (the guy who made The Social Network movie) wrote a great letter to Mark Zuckerberg in the New York Times.

What happened in 2016 can be chalked up to populists on both sides throwing a tantrum. On one hand, the Left and Bernie Bros, voters who passionately stood by Bernie Sanders and his vision of Democratic Socialism.

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Bernie Sanders being Bernie

On the other side, Trump Populists disgusted with Washington as usual politics and crying for a change. In fact, here are Trump supporters explaining why they support Trump even through all the scandals and obvious racism.

And I get it. Trump supporters want the same thing as Bernie supporters: change. They see their world crumbling under invading immigrants and crime. They see their jobs being lost to automation and advancements in AI. Donald Trump provides an answer to these voter’s fears. With promises of continuing coal mining jobs and tariffs against foreign products, bringing manufacturing back to the USA. It’s comforting to hear someone say they’ll protect you as the world changes drastically.

That’s partly why Trump won in 2016.

That, and Hillary Clinton wrongly getting the Democratic nomination in 2016. This led to a lot of hurt and disappointment amongst Progressive’s who latched onto Bernie Sander’s message and believed now was the time for the revolution!

Only, the revolution was handed over to a corrupt politician and the flame fizzled.

So we got Trump.

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Donald Trump

It’s kind of sad that we’ve descended to this level in our political discourse. That a reality tv huckster can manipulate the true and genuine fears of people for his own gain.

On the Democratic side, we have a plethora of candidates, though only a few matter. Bernie Sanders is back at it again. And good for him. Elizabeth Warren is shooting up the polls. Joe Biden thinks he can run against a new form of politics, though I think he’ll not get the nomination. He’s too ”old Washington.” He speaks for the Baby Boomers who are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

No, it will be Biden, Bernie, and Trump. And the 2020 election will be all about Democratic Socialism versus Trump’s Populism.

Which is why Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are becoming dangerous. On Facebook is a 30-second ad falsely accusing Joe Biden of blackmailing Ukrainian officials to stop an investigation of his son. The ad is still running on the platform.

People are viewing this ad even though the premise of it has constantly been debunked and proven false. And yet, people will believe it. Because their friend shared it and, well, their friend can’t be wrong, right? It must be true, right? Otherwise, Zuckerberg and Facebook would have taken the ad down for being fake.

So the lie becomes truth because we believe it to be true. George Orwell warned us of this very thing way back in the early 20th Century. And they didn’t have the internet or social media in those days.

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One would think having access to all of human knowledge would make us smarter.

When I taught my English classes at the university, I taught my students critical thinking. I beat it into them to question their sources and make sure the information they were presenting was factual and true. This was at the cusp of Wikipedia and the explosion of the internet. Smartphones weren’t a thing when I was teaching.

One of my favorite exercises was to gather my students into groups and have them read an official document about the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide

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DHMO is also the most effective solvent

I would ask them to construct an argument about why we should ban DHMO or why we should not ban it. The group members had to be unanimous in their decision.

I would always have the cocky science major raise an eyebrow at me, as if to say are you serious? But most of the time the groups would vote to ban DHMO. They’d present perfectly logical arguments for banning the chemical; their presentation based on the information I gave them.

And every student would groan and accuse me of trying to make them look like idiots.

I told them they just banned water.

My students said I made them feel stupid.

I would tell them that’s the exact point of the exercise: how information, language, and rhetoric can manipulate your opinion. I would enforce the lesson they were not stupid, just not trained to be critical of information presented to them. That they believed everything because what it printed was true.

It was an excellent lesson, and all of my students thanked me for it.

Which brings me back to Zuckerberg and Free Speech and Social Media.

Zuckerberg thinks he’s defending the holy idea of free speech. But most people don’t understand that speech has consequences. Yes, you are free to say what you want. But don’t expect people to respect your opinion if it’s based on lies and debunked information. You are wrong. And you need to understand that you are wrong. Don’t fight the critics who are telling you your information is flawed.

Look, the XKCD guy said it better than me:

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Adults understand speech comes with consequences

So be smart. Be critical of the information you consume. Question your sources. And for god’s sake, do NOT get your news from social media.

Social media is the toilet of the internet. You cannot debate the big ideas on Facebook or Twitter or any other social platform.

And just a reminder of the quality of person Donald Trump is, here are videos showing him lying, mocking the disabled, and just being a horrible human being.

Remember these when you vote in November. Maybe your candidate didn’t get the nomination.

But is the alternative better?

Remember when the government shut down because our president threw a tantrum? And he outright lied that it was his opposition that did it?

He “took the mantle.”

What a compassionate man! It almost inspires me to get a MAGA hat and go rough up a hospice!

Nothing sums up the United States better than praising stupidity.

You can’t MAGA if you’re flushing ten times or more.

I think someone wrote a story about a crazy man with a vendetta against windmills…

Is it too obvious to reference Cervantes?

But it’s this video that sums up the whole of Trump.

I still cannot comprehend how this moment did not ruin his presidential campaign. I just can’t even accept that this was shrugged off and allowed.

But maybe I can understand it but not accept the even more horrifying reality: the United States has never progressed as a country. We regressed. We continued our bloody past of colonialism and dehumanization for our sacred “freedom.”

That video is freedom made manifest. It represents far too much of of the United States.

We are politicizing masks for God’s sake. We are literally throwing a tantrum because people dared to ask you care about someone other than yourself.

So many watched this video and just accepted it. They voted one of the worst examples of humanity into the most powerful position in the world.

If you still support this man and all he stands for after daily examples of what a horrible, hateful human being he is, then it’s not Trump who is destroying this country…

It’s you.

Trump simply represents the culture that created him. He is a metaphor made literal.

It is not Trump that is wrong with this country.

It is you who supported this man that represent the worst of us.

It is you.

You are what is wrong with this country.

Oh, one more thing.

If you are in desperate need of hope, like I am, watch a real theoretical physicist take on Deepak Chopra.

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