Category: Social Media

On Being Primed For Worse

| November 25, 2014 | 1 Reply
On Being Primed For Worse

Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Sure looked like we expected what we got. [More . . . ]

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Just Talkin’ Here

| August 4, 2014 | 1 Reply
Just Talkin’ Here

One of the more congenial things about FaceBook is that while flaming (and trolling and all such related hate-baiting tactics) still happens, users aren’t locked into the thread where it occurs. With multiple conversations going on all the time among many different arrangements of “friends” it is not a problem requiring something like a nuclear option to deal with. 

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Duck (And Cover…)

| January 4, 2014 | Reply
Duck (And Cover…)

By now those who don’t know about Phil Robertson and the debacle at A & E are most likely among those who have no access to any kind of media.  They have no idea what the world is doing, because they have no way of knowing what to pay attention to.  [More … ]

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Military Voting Philosophy

| August 16, 2012 | 3 Replies

I remember the presidential election of 2004, during which the armed services were flooded with the message that it was seditious to speak out against your Commander in Chief, and certainly bad to consider voting against your own commander. Luminaries of the time like Ann Coulter published the principle that anyone who casts doubt on ones president is a traitor. This was a solidly accepted conservative plank.

But the message fed to members of the armed forces has changed for the 2012 election:

Not My President

This image has been going around on Facebook, among other sources. I suspect that the message they receive about their Commander in Chief is different than before. There also is a busy meme insinuating that Democrats are busily working to deny military members their right to absentee vote.

Does this mean that the military is a Republican organization? Or does it cleave to one of the Three Tea Party branches?

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Life by the numbers

| April 15, 2012 | 3 Replies
Life by the numbers

In years past, I used to rest assured that I was in good shape, physically, economically and socially. That was before computers gave me the ability to know exactly how I’m doing.

It used to be easier to pretend that one was in good health. Nowadays, hundreds of websites let you know about all of the diseases that threaten you, complete with many symptoms that undoubtedly match some of your symptoms. Of course there have always been books and magazines with medical information, but never before could you so easily pinpoint so many symptoms with a free Google search or a quick visit to the symptom-checker at Wrongdiagnosis.com.

Economically, we used to put our money into some sort of mutual fund or other investment, and we considered that we were “married” to the account. Computers now give us the ability to track our financial health second by second. Computer-programmed trading also creates crazy jumps and plunges in the market. Ignorance was bliss, and many advisers argue that you should go back to finding a reasonable place to put your money, then ignoring it for long periods of time.

Then there is one’s social health. It used to be that I could assume that I had an indefinite (large) number of people with whom I had a friendship. That was before Outlook came along to tell me exactly who I did (and did not) know well enough to have a phone number or an email address. In Outlook, you’ll get the exact number. Ooops. My social circle is not nearly as big as I’d like to believe.

Perhaps you are thinking that Outlook is not the right place to look, and that one ought to look, instead, to Facebook. Thanks to the precision statistics offered by Facebook, we can see that the typical Facebook user has 190 friends. That’s it? But what if I get in a bind or I get sick, and I need the help of a “friend.” It seems like you could run through 190 “friends” all too quickly. It ultimately presents the same problem as Outlook. It gives you a finite number, and many of them are not really good friends, anyway, as much as I enjoy sharing information with them.

A new article in The Atlantic, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely,” by Stephen Marche, should make us even more suspicious of the Facebook phenomenon (the article is in the May 2012 edition, not yet online). We learn (p. 66) that neurotics and lonely individuals spend greater amounts of time on Facebook per day than non-lonely people. He also writes that Facebook has become a place to pretend that one’s life is better than it is, and that “believing that others have strong social networks can lead to feelings of depression.” He also cites to research showing that “surrogates can never make up completely for the absence of the real thing . . . actual people in the flesh.” He concludes that the idea that a website “could deliver a more friendly, inter-connected world is bogus.” Further research shows that “the greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are . . . [and] The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.” He adds that Facebook is not always a bad thing. Like many things, it is a tool that can be used or misused. “It’s like a car. you can drive it to pick up your friends. Or you can drive alone.”

Then again, Facebook puts us into the business of competing with our “friends.” “Facebook imprisons us in the business of self-presenting, and this, [according to author Jaron Lanier], is the site’s crucial and fatally unacceptable downside.” Facebook gratifies “the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self-promoting behavior.”

So think about this next time you smugly react to your “friend” count. Marche’s article is far more nuanced than the above summary, and he would admit that there are many ways to use Facebook. I, for instance, use it to share article, including many articles from this website. I can’t help but notice, though, that many people post on Facebook 8 times per day, and they would seem to fall into his description of those having a “narcissistic personality disorder.” When you add up your Facebook “friends,” then, to see how rich you are with “friends,” you might want to set those narcissistic friends aside before counting.

So this is life by the numbers, at least if you include this final number, which I take as a challenge, rather than a depressing fact (or use this alternate method of calculating your approximate number of remaining days). In sum, it appears that you will be happier (or at least you will think you are happier) if you get away from the computer and, instead, spend time with a good friend, face-to-face, talking about something other than your health, your investments, and you cyber social circle.

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Today’s target of American civil rights abuses

| January 17, 2012 | Reply
Today’s target of American civil rights abuses

Glenn Greenwald agrees with Law Professor Jonathan Turley that Americans are facing “ten major, ongoing assaults on core civil liberties, expanded during the Bush administration yet vigorously continued and/or expanded by President Obama:

Assassination of U.S. citizens; Indefinite detention; Arbitrary justice; Warrantless searches; Secret evidence; War crimes; Secret court; Immunity from judicial review; Continual monitoring of citizens; and Extraordinary renditions.

In today’s column, Greenwald asks “who are generally the victims of these civil liberties assaults?” Perhaps his question could be tweaked as follows: “Who are today’s victims of these civil liberties assaults?” Here is his answer:

The answer is the same as the one for this related question: who are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals). And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War (all civil liberties abuses in fact endanger all citizens, as they inevitably spread beyond their original targets, but they generally become institutionalized precisely because those outside the originally targeted minority groups react with indifference).

This endless war and civil rights abuses are destroying the American character. On this point, Greenwald refers to Martin Luther King’s 1967 speech critical of the Vietnam War, which includes this passage:

I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such . . . .

Like so much of Greenwald’s research and writing, today’s column is detailed and precisely and persuasively argued. I would highly recommend reading the entire original.

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EFF promotes jailbreaking for all devices

| December 8, 2011 | Reply
EFF promotes jailbreaking for all devices

Electronic Frontier Foundation is advocating for the right to jailbreak all devices. I agree, based on this.

EFF advocates many position with which I agree. Here is the EFF About statement:

From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people’s radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.

Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations. By mobilizing more than 61,000 concerned citizens through our Action Center, EFF beats back bad legislation. In addition to advising policymakers, EFF educates the press and public.

EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight — and win — more cases.

If you would like to support this work, a special program will quadruple your donation.

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The dangers of “Protect-IP” in a nutshell

| November 17, 2011 | 3 Replies
The dangers of “Protect-IP” in a nutshell

Protect-IP is an abysmal idea. No one likes it except for well-monied content providers. It would, if construed broadly by the courts, hinder the ability of ordinary folks to organize in order to promote higher profits for the entertainment industry, which already has plenty of ways to protect its IP. This is too high a price to pay.

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

How flawed are the approaches now being considered by Congress? Consider these reasons.

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Twitter required to hand over data in Wikileaks investigation

| November 17, 2011 | Reply
Twitter required to hand over data in Wikileaks investigation

This, from EFF:

A district court judge in Virginia ruled against online privacy today, allowing U.S federal investigators to collect private records of three Twitter users as part of its investigation related to Wikileaks. The judge also blocked the users’ attempt to discover whether other Internet companies have been ordered to turn their data over to the government.

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