Whistleblowing or Hornblowing?

Frances Haugen, the former data engineer for Facebook who disclosed internal documents from the social media giant to the United States Securities & Exchange Commission and the Wall Street Journal, says that current algorithmic standards on social media harms young people.

I don’t think I’m alone in my expression of the colloquialism, “duh!”

It’s been known for some time excessive time spent on digital social media platforms actually increases depression in teenagers as well as further pushes unrealistic body images onto young girls. Did we really need a “whistleblower” to get us all hyped up about these facts? What Miss Haugen is doing is not so much whistleblowing as it is just calling out the elephant in the room. If Miss Haugen was actually revealing something dangerous to the status quo, would she really be called before Congress for discussion? Or would she be marked for prosecution and driven into hiding in a foreign embassy, awaiting the protection of any institution willing to shelter enemies of an empire?

*cough-Julian Assange-cough*

Perhaps the reason why our officials in the United States Congress are so eager to prop up Frances Haugen as a hero is because the ruling oligarchy want to seize social media’s power over political discourse as Glenn Greenwald so eloquently put in his commentary on the matter. One question that each American citizen should be asking is, when did these technology giants become the gate-keepers to political speech? Here’s another novel concept particularly for these younger generations: perhaps we are all spending a little too much time in digital environments and not enough time in the real world spending real time with other people in the physical space (do not throw the pandemic at me – our issues around too much screen time began prior to this pandemic). How about we actually make efforts to understand each other by talking things out rather than hitting the “block” button every time we’re exposed to a different opinion?

Word is Bond, Empathy is Connection

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Honesty and consistency are two of the rarest qualities in a human except for, I suppose, a consistent tendency for laziness. It takes effort to actually follow through with something you’ve said and telling the truth can be scary especially when you’re unsure what the truth is.

I think I know a thing or two about laziness being an incredibly lazy person myself. I often attempt to justify my laziness through my lack of physical coordination and proclivities against any sort of athletic activities (ironic given my height). However; humans did not evolve for stationary movement, it is a sign of our modern prosperity that so many humans have the luxury of remaining in their homes communicating on our various electronic computing devices. Many of us in developed countries now need reminders to stand up and move. We also need to remind ourselves to go out and interact with people in-person – in the physical space.

It can be difficult to transmit a sense of empathy over electronic screens through text communications. Even across video-sharing platforms there are still barriers between people – you have an incredibly limited view of what you see around the other person, you cannot smell their environment (your sense of smell is most closely connected to memory), and you cannot touch the other the person (an incredibly important factor in forging connections). The ease at which we can “block” people from our lives is also problematic regarding community-building and maintaining lasting connections. One cannot block a person in real life. IRL, you must deal with a person and all their flaws. Fortunately, the fun part about flaws is that everybody has some; no one is alone in that regard. Perhaps our flaws can be a point of connection in the physical space – let’s all get together and talk about our flaws! 🙂

I value honesty and authenticity above anything else in another person but it seems like, the further we go into a more digital environment, the more rare those qualities become in people. On the world wide web, everyone is crafting an image – a façade – to project to whatever sub-community of which they’re a part. The people putting their real selves out their for the world are drowned out by the people wearing masks and trying to fit into something.

If you want to understand other people, first you must understand yourself, both of which can be a great undertaking.

2014 Personality Lecture 01: Introduction and Overview, An introduction to the great clinical, psychobiological and psychometric theories of personality, Professor Jordan B. Peterson (2014).

The Game Awards 2019 (Round-Up) — Daily Gaming Report

The Game Awards 2019 (Source: GameSpot) – The Game Awards happened tonight, December 12th, live from Los Angeles, California.  In case you missed it, The Game Awards streamed live on YouTube and was hosted by the show’s creator, Geoff Keighley.  The most notable moments include: The brand new Xbox console, Xbox Series X, trailer, The Muppets . . .”

via A Round-Up Of The Game Awards 2019 — Daily Gaming Report

Watch the awards here:

 

Bungie Explains Why Some Destiny 2 Eververse Content Costs Silver Only — Game Rant

“The microtransaction side of Destiny 2 known as Eververse has had a complicated history ever since it was first introduced in the first game.  Its addition post-launch and periods of time, especially at the launch of Destiny 2, when it felt as though really good content was locked behind its paywall among other issues have left many players feeling slighted by Bungie’s implementation of Eververse that has not always appeared very player-friendly. . . .”

via Bungie Explains Why Some Destiny 2 Eververse Content Costs Silver Only — Game Rant – Feed

 

What Is Creativity? — The Art of Blogging

What is creativity?  It’s one of those deceptively simple questions.  What does it mean to be creative?  Well . . . create is a verb.  Creative thinking without execution is not creativity.  Also, I personally feel that true creativity results in something useful to others.  Something that either solves a problem, entertains, or helps us connect . . .

via “What Is Creativity? — The Art of Blogging.”

 

Trust me, I’m a writer.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Journalism is not supposed to be propaganda from politicians.  Journalism is supposed to hold politicians accountable for what they say (Ana Kasparian, The Young Turks, 2019).”

How can a news organization today (particularly a new organization) gain the trust of the public given the current over-saturation of the market?  I think the key is transparency for themselves, each reporter/editor/producer must be willing to put their name in front of the public eye and stand up for their work in the face of criticism.  Make sure that any one of your readers/viewers/listeners can approach you with questions if they so desire and accept criticism with grace; do not let praise inflate your ego.  This is also just good advice in general – be honest with yourself about what you’re doing, try to be self-aware in what you do, and maintain an over-arching vision to guide your work.

It’s impossible to be completely objective simply because most humans orient themselves around their subjective feelings rather than logic and their objective surroundings but that doesn’t mean that we can not strive for objectivity for its own sake.  Every human has the capacity for logical reasoning through critical thinking and discourse, it’s what makes our species so powerful in nature – we can come together around common goals and manipulate our environment in ways other animals can not.  However; this attribute is a double-edged sword for, if we remain too long in one group with the same ideas in circulation over and over and over again, our minds become dull from ease and the group weakens with fatigue.  To maintain a competitive edge, a group of humans must always be inviting to a variety of ideas, individuals must be willing to challenge themselves to sharpen their arguments.  Echo chambers are dangerous.

This is exactly what modern media has become: an ecosystem of echo chambers.  People on the political Right-wing have their own sources, people on the political Left-wing have their own sources, and more moderately-minded people don’t know where to go for sources so they try to read multiple sources from both sides of the spectrum (if they don’t opt out of politics altogether) all the while animosity for everyone else increases and politics becomes more and more tribal.  Modernity is supposed to be more civilized than tribalism.

I think I’m digressing, let’s go back to the topic of modern news media.  I think the key to success in news media is transparency which is why I want to list what I think is important to discuss when it comes to political engagement, government functions, and such:

  • the role of a government relative to the society it presides over,
  • hearing from a variety of perspectives regardless of popularity,
  • clarifying differences between perspectives and taking care to NOT miss-represent one’s ideas.

I believe these to be important facets of news media – a result of my own beliefs in individualism, free speech, pluralism, government and corporate transparency, and democratic-republicanism.  My goal with my writing (both my personal writing and professional writing) is to promote inquiry into how our societies operate, encourage more people to ask questions that some people in positions of power may not want to answer.  I’ve written in the past about my belief in writing skills and their importance to civilization and I stand by that belief today.

Apex Legends bashes through a wall into the battle royale genre.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

There is a new battle royale game available that blows Fortnite out of the water.  With over ten million players in its first week upon launch, Apex Legends is geared to compete in the rising gaming genre that pits players in an arena-style map to fight to the death.

Did I mention that the game is free to download? 🙂

One reason that I prefer Apex Legends to Fortnite is the greater details in the gameplay.  Fortnite‘s cartoonish asthetic gives it an immature and child-like feel, limiting my suspension of disbelief in the fictional world.  That child-like feel combined with the fact that there are no unique characters in the canon makes the environment too superficial.  It’s true that Fortnite players can customize their appearance through the purchasing of various skins but it is purely for aesthetic purposes.  Apex Legends players have a choice of a select group of characters to play in the map and each character has unique abilites to use in combat.  The characters not only add variability to the gameplay but also add to the lore of the story.

You can decide for yourself which character is best for your style of gameplay but here’s a subjective guide of the characters from YouTube user “ImMarksman.”

Another reason why Apex Legends is superior to Fortnite is the more intricate map.  The little details in the terrain (more rocks to use for cover, more ledges to climb up on for a better view, the various paths you can take from one end of the map the another, etc.) make all the difference in the battle royale genre, a genre that is inherently limited by a set map that gets smaller the longer you play.

 

ApexLegends-map
Image Source: <https://venturebeat.com/2019/02/04/apex-legends-hands-on-gameplay-videos-highlight-fresh-battle-royale-tactics/>.

 

An unfortunate down-side to Apex Legends is that the game currently has no solo mode, you are forced to play in a team of three players.  That specific caveat would not be a  problem if more players would speak to each other cooperatively over the built-in voice chat.  In most matches, you’ll find players (like myself) wandering off on their own and not even attempting to coordinate with each other.  Those more solitary players would prefer a solo mode.

Despite the forced team play, Apex Legends is fantastic for newcomers and veterans alike, it has a beautifully designed map with detailed twists and turns that make for endless possibilities for potential strategies with rumors of more maps in the works from creator Respawn Entertainment.  I recommend this game to anyone craving some mindless competition while still looking for some decent world-building.

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.

instantmessagingapps-580x358
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).

 

web20
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.

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?