The Age of Memes

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Have you ever thought about what it means to be a god?  It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people’s minds.  You barely have your own identity anymore.  Instead, you’re a thousand aspects of what people need you to be.  And everyone wants something different of you.  Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable (Neil Gaiman, American Gods, 2001).”

Humans are very visual with communication often using images to supplement the narrative power of written words.  “A picture is worth a thousand words,” says the old phrase and pictures dominate the modern world of digital communications.

The news industry is undergoing a transformation through digital communications and I think the most successful news organizations to come out on top of that transformation will be the organizations that are fully embracing the web, not the organizations that are trying to keep one foot online and the other foot in physical print.  As much as I hate to admit it, printed paper is becoming less and less practical and digital platforms are becoming more and more relevant as web culture is slowly expanding through its various influencers, conquering the media landscape.  Mobile phones, touch-screen music players, and tablets are the new remote controls of our society.

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Image Source: <https://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2416558/instant-messaging-to-overtake-email-as-biggest-digital-communication-platform>.

The ability to search for specific information has become just as important as knowing information and that is a powerful thing for the average person with no defining, exceptional skills.  Technology is an amazing equalizer that not only improves your own life but your ability to help others.  Of course, technology also has a dystopian element.  The so-called gatekeepers – the internet service providers, the search engines, and the speech platforms – now hold immense influence over the decisions of individual people.  I think the solution to that is more market choices for consumers as well as effective anti-monopoly laws from governments, but that leads us into a more specific political discussion.

There is no doubt that technology has improved lives for people all over the globe and internet access is a huge part of connecting people with products and services beneficial to altruistic endeavors.  Even comedians are utilizing the Web to spread short messages for quick laughs – “memes” as they have been coined.  Imagine how a person from the pre-industrial age would spread his idea to a million eyes and ears across just his own country let alone the world.  Today, one just has to post on Twitter and, if enough people see it and share it, instant pseudo-celebrity status (for about five minutes).

 

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Image Source: <http://www.vmagroup.com/digital-communications/>.

 

A computer (including a smart phone, a digital tablet, etc.) is a powerful tool.  It should be used to a society’s benefit rather than to dumb down a populace but perhaps I’m writing optimistically.

Why is it okay to sexualize kids?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

When I was a child, I did not have a concept of sexual intercourse.  I began learning about it around the junior high school age range but, even when I was introduced to the concept, I struggled to understand it and I didn’t really want to understand it.  I was more concerned with building some fantasy castle with my LEGO blocks.  So, when I see a kid today like 10-year-old Desmond Napoles (“Desmond is Amazing“) making a youthful career out of dressing like a drag queen, I start to wonder about the parenting methods raising that kid.  Have these so-called “drag kids” even gone through puberty yet?  Do they understand what it means to be sexually attracted to another person?  Do they understand how their own sexual development will mature through their teenage years?  What is motivating these kids to become drag queens?

Perhaps I have a more traditional attitude regarding sex in media, displaying children in such a sexualized manner seems weird.

I think this commentary from Roaming Millennial covers how I feel about this phenomenon:

The “LGBT” phenomenon seems like a sex cult determined to destroy any boundaries around the intimate activity without thinking about why those boundaries are in place.  Maybe sexual expression should be kept between small groups of people who love one another rather than flaunted throughout media like a public event.

Political Partisanship, Divisiveness, and a Demonization of Discourse

Has American politics grown more divisive throughout our history or has it always been bad?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Has American politics grown more divisive throughout our history or has it always been bad?  How can a person initiate a discourse with their ideological opposite without the discussion morphing into a monster of insults and character assassinations?

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in his book, The Prince, that a primary goal of any national leader is to avoid a civil within his own country.  Based on that pragmatic view, has the United States of America failed as a nation because it could not avoid a civil war?

 

A Shifting Pendulum in American Politics

The Democratic Party is moving farther to the political Left, embracing more collectivist modes of ideology and doubling down on their identitarian activism. Today’s typical “Progressive” is now a caricature of my generation.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The Democratic Party is moving further to the political Left, embracing more collectivist modes of ideology and doubling down on their identitarian activism.  Today’s typical “Progressive” is now a caricature of my generation (Generation Y, the millennial generation) and it’s embarrassing; from screaming at Republican senators in the nation’s capital, to banging on the door of the Supreme Court of the United States after the confirmation of a new conservative-leaning Justice, to forcefully shutting down academic events hosting conservative speakers, it is apparent that Leftists (not liberals) are becoming more radicalized in this strange post-truth era.

How did we get here?

I think it started with internet connections and the World Wide Web which dramatically increased access to information for the general public.  Greater access combined with more diversity is a double-edged sword in media because, with more choices of programs, confirmation bias becomes more prevalent; individuals will naturally gravitate toward programs that confirm what they already believe.  This is why it is so important to make an effort to seek out points of view alternate to your own.  The American public is currently experiencing the negative, balkanizing effects of confirmation bias.

What’s the solution? 

I think the solution to our wide-spread confirmation bias ironically involves the very tools that encouraged this virus of the mind, although it also requires a change in mindset in each individual.  We need to consider different sources, the motivations behind particular narratives, and power bases behind specific media companies.  The ideological leanings of a journalist or commentator affects their news coverage as does the primary financing of an organization.  In short, we need to be more skeptical.

Skepticism requires curiosity and acting on curiosity requires initiative.  Journalist Tim Pool points out one the most stark differences between the political Left and Right today: the Left generally has no qualms with alienating individuals whom disagree with their mainstream narratives while the Right is constantly seeking out disagreements for the sake of discourse – the Left pushes people away with their dislike for nuance while the Right is actively recruiting people.  This new inclusiveness on the Right will likely lead to a new conservative movement among younger Americans.  We’re already seeing rising conservative media outlets catapulting young and energetic talking heads to national fame – figures like Ben Shapiro, Tomi Lahren, Roaming Millennial, and Dave Rubin are immensely popular with young people partly because they don’t condescend young people about how “oppressed” they are by forces beyond one’s control.  A general narrative on the Right is one of an individualistic spirit of exploration and invention endemic in American history.

Liberalism was once the champion of individualism and personal liberty but liberalism has been corrupted by its own hubris.  Leftists coming to dominate the fields of entertainment became obsessed with the appearance of diversity while ignoring diversity’s most important facet: the intellect.  Now, the intellectually lazy neo-liberals are being beaten in the marketplace of ideas by their Right-wing counterparts who still see value in showcasing diverse opinions regardless of appearances and communicating across ideologies.  If the Left wants to have a fighting chance in this new media landscape of individualism and curiosity, I think they need to rediscover liberalism and the intellectual traditions of Western civilization – from Hammurabi’s Code, to the oratory of Pericles, to the revelations of the Enlightenment, to the rational populism of Presidents Roosevelt.

Standing opposed to something is easy, standing FOR something is more difficult.

The website Poynter, which specializes in journalism news and education, published a selection of excerpts of various editorials curated together from several newspapers across the country.  The curation had a theme: opposition to President Trump. 

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The website Poynter, which specializes in journalism news and education, published a selection of excerpts of various editorials curated together from several newspapers across the country.  The curation had a theme: opposition to President Trump.

Click the image below to be redirected to the curation.

Screenshot_2018-08-16 America, help The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write
David Beard, “America, help!  The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write,” Poynter (2018).”

Newspapers should be oppositional to governments because opposition and dissent is fundamental to the concept of free speech, but opposition should not be the sole purpose of an organization.  Standing opposed to something is easy, standing for something is usually more difficult.

Chicago Sun Times: “We are the enemy of societal failings.”

What does that mean?  What societal failings?  Can newspapers decide what makes a society fail?

I don’t think news organizations should not be proselytizing a particular ideology, they should simply be outlets for truth (facts only).

The “enemy of racism?”

There will always be racism and bigotry in any society, that is a part of human nature.  To hate is a part of being human.  To fight against racism is to fight against a part of humanity.  Ideologues with a utopian vision of a so-called “perfect society” fight against their view of evil by fighting against the darker sides of human nature in an attempt to mold humans into a tool for their utopia.  Instead of moralizing about human emotions, we need to accept the positive aspects of our humanity with the more negative aspects and live with a decent balance.

Kids say the darnest things!

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Throughout the United States, the age for sexual consent ranges between 16 years and 18 years.  In my state (New Mexico), the age consent in 17 years.  Consent laws are reasonable enough – they are a deterrent against adults seeking to take advantage of a child usually in a sexual manner.  Prosecutions are carried out under these laws regardless of any defense made by the child (or children) for the predator(s).  It is generally understood that if you have sex with a person whom has not come of age, you’ve committed a crime regardless of your under-age partners pleas on your behalf.  The case of Roman Polanski (1978) is a famous example of this kind of crime.

Why are the words of the under-aged not taken into account during these kinds of criminal cases?  Because it is also generally understood that young humans with under-developed brains lack the full capacity to reason due to the fact that the frontal lobe of the human brain is the last part of the brain to develop in adolescence.

In short, children are (generally) stupid.  This is why children must receive their parents’ permission to sign legally binding contracts as well as wait until a specific age to receive a drivers’ license or vote for their representatives in our governments.  A child’s under-developed brain combined with their short supply of life experience prevent them from comprehending the long-term consequences of their actions.

All this said, why does there seem to be a growing consensus among the LGBTQ(+ whatever) movement in favor of medical emancipation of children from their parents?  Why should a child be able to permanently alter their body because he puts on a dress one day?  Children say something one day and say the opposite the next day, may do something one day and do something contradictory the next day, because children rarely think beyond one fleeting moment.  Children are notorious for their short-attention spans as well as their fervor in fighting to get what they want in any one moment.  So, why don’t we let children live on their own, handling their own money, making important decisions that will impact the rest of their lives?  Because children are incapable of thinking a decision through to the rest of their lives.  Parents take care of their kids for 18+ years because the kids do not know how to live on their own yet.

If a child is unable to consent to sexual intercourse, why should they be allowed to permanently alter their sexual organs?

“Biological sex is not assigned. Sex is determined at conception by our DNA and is stamped into every cell of our bodies. Human sexuality is binary. You either have a normal Y chromosome, and develop into a male, or you don’t, and you will develop into a female. There are at least 6,500 genetic differences between men and women. Hormones and surgery cannot change this.

An identity is not biological, it is psychological. It has to do with thinking and feeling. Thoughts and feelings are not biologically hardwired. Our thinking and feeling may be factually right or factually wrong (Michelle Cretella, The Daily Signal (2017).”

One more thing on these transgender post-modernists who often make the absurd claim that there is no such thing as biological sex.  If sex and and gender are socially constructed, then how can sexism be real?

North Carolina Clashes With U.S. Over New Public Restroom Law
Image from Fortune magazine.