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

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

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.

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.

 

 

 

Satire or bad video game journalism? Can you tell?

American politics has become so polarized that people are injecting their own political rhetoric into every activity, no matter how mundane. This is why identity politics is cancer to multi-partisan discourse. Ideologues are so intent on controlling culture that they will suppress individual expressions of art in an attempt to make entertainment reflect a specific view of the world and nothing else.

Whatever happened to “live and let live?”

Suitably Bored

You know what? These days it get’s harder and harder to tell the two apart, if what is being written by these online publications is really game journalism or just plain satire. The past two weeks I honestly could not tell the difference, and I don’t know if that scares me or amuses me. So here are four examples that absolutely mind fucked me, see if you can tell if it is satire or not. First example:

View original post 259 more words

The Left is no longer liberal and liberals need to stand up.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

There is a particular ideology in America today, fostered by the Left-wing of the political spectrum, so intent on giving voice to minority populations that it seemingly idolizes victimization while proclaiming their distaste for and their distrust of populations of privilege.  Some proponents of this ideology have even driven it to an extent of advocating for a dismantling of Western political and judicial systems on claims that Western civilization was founded on nothing more than the exploitation of minority populations.  Nevermind that individuals in the West today enjoy a relatively peaceful society as well as longer lifespans compared to other parts of the world, contemporary Leftists focus on negative aspects of human history while dismissing anything positive that has arisen from a cultivation of social norms.  As if humans would be better off without civilization, roaming the wilderness just like any other animal.

Western civilization is not perfect (of course), no civilization is perfect.  Human history is littered with violence because humans have a proclivity towards violence.  However; despite what post-modern ideologues would have you believe, power struggles are not the only thing that drive human actions.  Any (reasonable) scholar of history will recognize that some of the worst atrocities have been committed in pursuit of an utopian ideal.  In other words, some of the worst things ever accomplished were carried out with the best of intentions.  A pragmatic leader governs a society as humans are, not as humans ought to be.

Contemporary Leftists are indeed pushing an idealistic agenda and it seems eerily reminiscent of the old Marxist rhetoric leading up to the Russian Revolution which formed the Soviet Union.  These new “cultural Marxists,” or neo-Marxists, are driven by a desire for a utopia in which no group of people is prejudiced toward another group of people and all individuals live in harmony with one another with no hatred, jealousy, or exploitation.  This is a fantastical, pathological idea and it is most evident on college campuses (more so with large universities) where Leftist, student organizations will rally protests against specific people with a so-called controversial opinion simply for having the audacity to speak to a crowd of supporters.  Leftists students today are so “triggered” by differing opinions that they wish to limit individual freedom of speech to protect their own asinine sensabilities.  The political Left is no longer liberal and liberals must stand up against these neo-communists.

Liberalism is about individuality, liberty, entreprenuership, and the ability of one person to forge his/her own destiny regardless of the circumstances of his birth.  Liberals advocate for free speech for individuals, accountability for governments, separations of power, divisions in the structures of governments, and egalitarianism throughout a population.

The problem with idealistic, utopian ideologies like Marxist socialism/communism or Nazi socialism/fascism, as “well-intentioned” as they may be, they create “in-group” mentalities amongst specific populations which foster exclusiveness in pursuit of inclusiveness.  In pursuit of a so-called inclusive society, the ideologues advocate to silence any rhetoric that goes against their ideology (any rhetoric that they label as hateful).  Nevermind freedom of speech for individuals and the marketplace of ideas, any speech that may be interpreted as “hate speech” will not be tolerated by the contemporary neo-communists.  This pro-censorship stance is antithetical to classic Enlightenment values.  Censorship advocates are not liberal.

Examples of these pathological neo-communists can be seen in video recordings of public speeches by Milo Yiannopolous and Ben Shapiro.  Milo Yiannopolous is a former reporter/editor at “Breitbart News” who organized a tour of college campuses a couple years back during which he spoke to his supporters publicly.  Ben Shapiro is the current editor-in-chief of “The Daily Wire” who occasionally partners with various conservative organizations to speak to his supporters publicly at various American colleges.  Both Yiannopolous and Shapiro have had contact with protesters at their events, people who were protesting them simply because they were speaking publicly.

A reasonable person encounters a public speaker whom they disagree with and perhaps crafts an argument against the speaker, engaging in a debate.  However; the post-modern neo-communists do not believe in values of free speech and debate, they only care about asserting their own influence in the public sphere and obtaining power over our society.  They do this under a belief that truth does not exist and that power dynamics are all that matter in human relations; this belief justifies their own use of power.

Free speech only matters if it applies to every person.  Every person deserves the right to speak his mind regardless of how hateful it may be.  I write this as a person who used to describe himself as a socialist.  I used to describe myself as a socialist because I bought into the idealistic rhetoric of Marxism, “workers of the world unite,” and all that shit.  I did not understand the bitter pathology behind a strive for utopia.

Post-modernist, neo-communism must be stopped before human history repeats itself.  We do not want another Soviet Union to rise to prominence on the global stage.

Drug usage, individualism, and the spirit of a libertarian.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Since I’ve been old enough to question the meaning behind the words, “land of the free and home of the brave,” I have pondered over classic American ideas of freedom , specifically the apparent contradictions between the idea that Americans enjoy more freedom from tyranny than any other rationalized peoples and the punitive practices of American law enforcement agencies against non-violent criminals.  If America really is the “land of the free,” why is it a crime to light up a pipe filled with cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home?  What exatly is the American ideal of freedom?

In the interest of fairness, I do acknowledge that (in general) the United States of America is a decent place to live compared to many other countries across the globe.  While it is not logical to act prideful in the facts of your birth (no human chooses the circumstances of their birth), I am a little prideful about the relative prosperity of Western Civilization.  No society is perfect but there is prosperity relative to other countries.  The West’s top rankings on global freedom indexes are no accident – they are partly due to a a general culture that respects individualism and democratic-republicanism.

However; the United States has also been catalogued with the highest prison in the planet’s western hemisphere.  (See the International Centre for Prison Studies: World Prison Population List – ICPS).  Amongst Western nations, that is a poor ranking and Americans can do better.  I think a major factor in this high population of prisoners is the so-called “war on drugs,” which was initiated under President Richard Nixon.

The argument in favor of drug prohibition is an emotional one consisting of exclamations like, “we need to prosecute these drug addicts,” “get these lazy pot heads off the street,” people shouldn’t be using drugs,” and more.  All of these exclamations are irrelevant to individual freedom.  A legal case may be argued for limiting drug use in on public property reserved for the general population but, on private property, it is a simple case of individual property rights and personal freedom.  Regardless how one feels about drug use, it affects no one but the individuals involved and, if tobacco and alcohol use are not criminalized actions (two drugs much more dangerous than other drugs like cannabis) there is no consistent reasoning to criminalize less dangerous drugs.

Fortunately, there seems to be a growing shift in American cultures regarding durg use (at least regarding cannabis use).  More than half of the states in the union have legalized medical-based cannabis; eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized it recreationally.  Opinion polls show that more than half of the general public is now in favor of full legalization at the federal level.  Trends are moving in a more libertarian direction.

Content creator and YouTube pundit Wizard of Cause expresses his satisfaction towards this trend in the following video:

I think any person harboring some preconceived ideas about drugs and drug users should at least make an attempt to flip the argument around onto themselves and then ask themselves if they would want anyone else busting down their doors in a police raid for a minimal amount of cannabis.  Is that kind of environment really in line with an American ideal of freedom?  Are citizens really free if we have to fear law enforcement because of a personal decision on private property?