Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Our Coddled Elites and All the Pain They Can’t Feel

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Few developments in recent memory have had more of an impact on the conservative faith in the virtues of the market than the outsized role social media companies have come to play in our lives. At one point long ago, in a very different America, social media was a “problem” insofar as it was clearly seen as a sort of dopamine rat maze marketed to impressionable children and feckless young adults. 

Academics like Jonathan Haidt talked about the negative effects, such as a rapid spike in suicide attempts among girls that seems to have coincided with the public launch of Facebook. Meanwhile, the hegemonic libertarian orthodoxy of the Right offered a shrug in response: “Hey, it’s a free market, so if you don’t like it, log off and don’t use it!”

But those were the good old days of the 2000s and early 2010s, the heyday of a Bush and Obama-led neoliberal consensus. Back then, radical identitarian ideology, at least in the imaginations of many on the Right, was seen as a passing fad, a phase for “extremely online kids” and “liberal arts majors” who certainly would all grow out of it once they got “a real job.” 

But as it happened, the companies and the workplaces bent to the whims of these extremely online liberal arts majors, while the ideologies of the Left held firm. And thus the role of social media companies went from merely exhausting the dopamine receptors and spiking anxieties among young folks to becoming fully-fledged political actors in their own right, using their power and their platforms in order to ”guide” political discussion. 

It’s Not Just the Censorship...........To Read More.....

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