New school gun nuts of Instagram: The Heavily Armed Millennials of Instagram.
“Happiness is a warm gun. Bang bang pew pew. #lifeisepic.”
There is a universe of people who post and comment on photos like this, mostly via Instagram. It shares the sunny, curated aesthetic of other, parallel Instagram universes, only its fetish objects aren’t lattes or surfboards but semiautomatic weapons. Its denizens call themselves members of the “tactical community.” […] they technically refer to a culture of tricked-out assault rifles and disaster-preparedness drills. Aptly, the community manages to embody both these sensibilities: To scroll through a #tactical feed is to drink in a strange brew of good cheer and violent imagery, of attractive Internet personalities and their guns.
Society Desperately Needs An Alternative Web: A decentralized web of smaller communities may be a way out of misery.
The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread. (Great „Blog on delusional beliefs, distorted memories, confabulatory explanations, unrealistically optimistic predictions, and implicit biases“ btw).
If social factors are essential to explaining our beliefs, as we argue they are, and if the conditions under which we interact with others change, then we should expect that the heuristics we have developed to cope with other social environments will begin to fail.
These failing heuristics are partly responsible for the recent effectiveness of pernicious social media influencers and propagandists. We must anticipate that politically and economically motivated actors will continue to use social ties to spread misinformation, and that they will continue to develop new and more effective methods for doing so. To combat these methods will require time, effort, and money on the part of social media companies and the government.
Has social media changed the way the public perceives your work? Yes, and here’s an example: 20 years ago, if you saw something on TV that offended you and you wanted to let someone know, you would’ve had to get a pen and paper and write, “Dear BBC, I’m bothered.” But you didn’t do it because it was too much trouble. Now with Twitter, you can just go, “[Expletive] you!” to a comedian who’s offended you. Then a journalist will see that and say, “So-and-so said a thing and people are furious.” No. The rest of us don’t give a [expletive] and wouldn’t have heard about it if it hadn’t been made a headline. Everything is exaggerated. But everything’s also an illusion. No one would talk to you in the street like they do on Twitter. They’d never come up and say, “Your articles stink.” They’d never do that because they’re normal, but they’re not normal on Twitter because there’s no nuance, no irony, no conversation there.
So why should we take it seriously? You don’t. If you ignore it on Twitter, it didn’t happen. It’s like going into a toilet stall and arguing with graffiti. If you don’t go there, it doesn’t exist.
(Not only) because of that last sentence above: A plea to journalists: for the sake of accuracy in reporting, for the sake of your professional integrity, for the sake of our nation: Delete your account.
This Chrome Extension Lets You Tune Out Toxic Comments Online and it’s pretty much bullshit, filtering out swear words. AI has not a clue about context, still.
Bandenkriege in Chicago – Online drohen, offline schießen: Chicagos Gangs bekriegen sich mittlerweile auch online. Und die Fehden im Netz heizen die Bandenkriege auf der Straße weiter an.
What Social Media Posts Can Tell Us about Gang Violence
The SAFElab is a research initiative focused on examining the ways in which youth of color navigate violence on and offline. Drawing on computational and social work approaches to research, we engage in qualitative and natural language processing methods to understand the mechanisms of violence and how to prevent and intervene in violence that occurs in neighborhoods and social media environments.
Reddit Has Become A Battleground Of Alleged Chinese Trolls: “Bad enough to have to deal with Russian Ops and the Alt-Right, but now we have to deal with Chinabots as well.”
Neulich erst hatte ich den Link zu einem Text mit eher philosophischen Betrachtungen über eine neue Emotion: Wenn Kinder feststellen, dass ihre Eltern ihr Leben online ausbreiten. Hier ein Tatsachenbericht eines dieser Kids: I’m 14, and I quit social media after discovering what was posted about me: „I felt utterly embarrassed, and deeply betrayed.“
Podcast: How Online Disinformation Affects the Real World: We spoke to Roel Schouwenberg, the director of intelligence and research at Celsus Advisory Group, a consulting firm based in the US that helps clients deal with disinformation operations.
Great article by Kenan Malik against all identity politics: The history and politics of white identity:
The reactionary politics of white identity can no more defend the interests of the working class – white or not – than the supposedly radical politics of identity can defend the interests of minorities. Both transform solidarity from a sense of commonality with those sharing my values and aspirations, though not necessarily my skin colour or culture, to an identity with those who do not share my political hopes, and may undermine my interests, but whose skin colour or cultural background is similar.
There is no singular set of interests shared by all whites. Those responsible for the marginalisation of the working class are also largely white – politicians, bureaucrats, bankers, company bosses. The notion of ‘white identity’ obscures the real problems facing the working class and so makes it more difficult to challenge them.
White identity is the original identity of identity politics, and reveals the reactionary roots of the politics of identity. To challenge inequality and injustice, to defend working class interests, requires us to challenge also the politics of identity, however it expresses itself.
Good one from Shikha Dalmia: The Right’s Identity Politics Is More Dangerous Than the Left’s.
America today is not the America that I arrived in. Both the left and the right are arguably in a darker place, pushing their own form of tribal politics—both of which are a threat to America’s liberal democracy, whose core promise is to protect individuals regardless of their tribal affiliation. Liberal democratic institutions have allowed individuals to cooperate and collaborate freely beyond the confines of their tribes, generating what Deirdre McCloskey has dubbed the Great Enrichment and Jonah Goldberg calls the Miracle. Yet now these institutions are under assault from both sides.
The left’s excesses and efforts to silence reasonable debate through political correctness arguably helped to spawn the current backlash on the right. But even if that’s true, the minority identity politics of the left is not ultimately as dangerous as the majority identity politics—the ethno-nationalism—of the right. I agree with conservatives like Goldberg and centrists like Francis Fukuyama that the antidote to the left’s mishigas and the right’s reactionary turn is a restoration of civic nationalism, a patriotism of liberal democratic principles, that can once again subsume the narrower tribal identities on both sides and bind the country together in a broad creedal identity. But I don’t agree that this requires pushing toward a more culturally and socially homogeneous America. That, I’ll argue, will only heighten the risk of majoritarian tyranny.
In fact, I think, we need the opposite: a redoubling of a commitment to the pluralistic project—or, in modern parlance, the diversity project—that James Madison said was the most effective bulwark against illiberalism. The right shouldn’t treat diversity as a dirty word just because the left has sullied it.
There is no doubt that America has made very great strides in undoing the legacy of slavery and other injustices, as the right points out. It is also true that old biases and arrangements are still baked into existing social norms and power structures, as the left points out. If individuals face discrimination because of their membership in a group, they will band together as a group to demand relief.
Black Lives Matter might have its excesses, but it is hardly wrong when it demands body cameras on police officers to deter rampant harassment. Nor is the #MeToo movement off base in demanding a rethinking of lingering Mad Men–era attitudes in the workplace. Nor is it unreasonable that a diverse America would like Hollywood to reflect diversity and tell diverse stories that may have a broad appeal. There is no reason that a superhero shouldn’t be black!
Indeed, it was inevitable that having won basic rights, minorities striving to find their place in mainstream America or women joining the workforce en masse would force a reckoning with old ways. As Fukuyama points out in his last book, identity politics is ultimately a quest for dignity or satisfaction of what the Greeks called thymos—that aspect of the soul that craves recognition. And it comes into play precisely to satiate the need for social recognition that formal liberal equality fuels but doesn’t necessarily address. In fact, formal equality makes informal inequalities and injustices seem not less but more galling.
So the left’s basic project is understandable. The trouble is its methods. In its eagerness to overcome these inherently intractable problems in one fell swoop, it has convinced itself that liberal democratic principles—free speech, due process, presumption of innocence, the rejection of all notions of collective guilt—are actually white patriarchal inventions that interfere with the quest for justice rather than aiding it. So on college campuses, debate and discussion are being replaced with trigger warnings; Title IX sexual assault rules are replacing due process and individualized findings with blanket judgments and collective guilt. The #MeToo movement isn’t merely snagging serial predators like Harvey Weinstein but Aziz Ansari, a first-generation Muslim comedian whose “crime” was nowhere near the same league as Weinstein’s.
No one’s group membership tells you anything about their guilt or innocence in specific circumstances. To try to use such membership as a way to dispense justice will only create a whole slew of new victims, even among those the left otherwise wants to help, and generate pushback, including from its own ranks, which is already happening.
The left’s main problem is that it is trying to knit together very disparate groups based on claims of oppression on account of their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. The underlying assumption is that the world can be divided neatly into persecutors and persecuted. But this discrete binary is—to use the left’s own lingo—a social construct that has little bearing in reality.
Nazis are using ancient aesthetics for memetics, blurring history in the process: How the Far Right Perverts Ancient History—And Why It Matters.
Writing for The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor pointed out that a YouTube video posted by a user under the handle “Aryan Wisdom” depicted then-candidate Trump as Leonidas, holding back an invading tide that included Soros and Obama. At the time Tharoor published his piece in November of 2016, the video had been viewed over two million times. It’s up to five million now.
It may seem silly to argue about the interpretation of events that unfolded thousands of years ago, to fret and hand-wring over people millennia in their graves. Some may argue it is harmless for the likes of Hanson to strut his toxic revision of ancient history across the stage. Just another blowhard shouting at the ocean, after all.
But this notion is having life-and-death consequences in America today. I worked at the NYPD during and following the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA where Heather Heyer was killed and more than two dozen other people were injured. In August 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent us its report on the flags and symbols used during the rally, including the vexillum of the Roman Republic (SPQR for “Senātus Populusque Rōmānus,” “The Senate and the People of Rome”), the ancient sun wheels of Germanic tribes, the Greek lambda (“Λ” or “L” for “Lakedaimon,” the Spartans called themselves “Lakedaimonians”) falsely believed to have been painted on ancient Spartan shields, and now used by the far-right Identitarian movement.