Nov 202015
 

997DVA_Al_Pacino_025…and it is our fault.

Remember Starbucks Red Cup Controversy? Where the media spent days telling us how christians are outraged that the Starbuck holiday cup is plain red instead of having christmas trees and snowflakes on it? And it turns out that it was just one christian shock-jock type, and every single real christian in America was like “What the fuck guys? We don’t actually care. Who is making shit up about us?”

Which is exactly what we liberals think every time we see a “War on Christmas” story.

But the interesting part is that there aren’t less War on Christmas stories as time goes on. Rather, they’ve expanded, so now the leftwing media has their own version, re the crazy Red Cup guy. Years ago the rightwing media found that War on Christmas stories don’t have to be true. They still generate TONS of revenue, because they emotionally charge their viewers. Now the leftwing media has found out the same thing.

As a result both sides of America become more and more polarized, viewing the “other” side as evil and/or idiotic. Over what is essentially lies given to them by their own media. It’s getting worse.

Perhaps you saw today that Donald Trump wants to put all Muslims on a national registry and issue them special identification, and he’s crossed the Nazi Line.

If you’re like me, you shared with the quote from a friend that: “if Trump got elected President, and somehow persuaded both houses of Congress to pass a “Muslims must register” bill, it would be struck down by the federal courts. But the problem here isn’t that there’s a danger of this policy being implemented in the near future. The problem is that it is currently not only acceptable but popular to openly advocate fascist ideas … his popularity says a lot of frightening things about the current American mindset”

But if you’re like me, you also have friends on the other side, who then point out that this is a massive distortion (I apologize for linking to that particularly vile news site). “It is clear from the exchange that Trump thinks Hillyard is talking about new entrants to the United States, presumably Syrian refugees. But Hillyard reports Trump’s answer as if he is talking unambiguously about Muslims already in the United States.”

Which isn’t to say that Trump isn’t both wrong and racist. But he’s plenty wrong and racist on his own, and painting fangs on him just makes our side look like fucking idiots.

But more importantly, it makes us think of him as an irredeemably evil person, and all his supporters as similarly evil, or too stupid/blind to see past their own fear. It further polarizes us into camps that think the worst possible things about each other, and don’t talk to each other. Because it makes for GREAT ratings/clicks.

America seems to be drifting ever closer to civil war, and these sorts of intentional misportrayals by the both sides is spurring it on. Seriously, how long are we going to let the media ask vague questions that could be interpreted to mirror Nazi policies, and then if someone doesn’t immediately and strongly side with the questioner, report that “they didn’t rule it out“???

The thing about devils is that they give you what you want, per your revealed preference. That’s always how the story works. That is what makes those stories compelling. You get what you deserve because the devil always is simply giving you what you want. And then the angels – who care about our stated preferences rather than our revealed ones – come and save us. The Ego triumphs over the Id.

But the Ego doesn’t generate clicks, or share things on social media. The Id does. We have created institutions that mimic the devils of myth – they are rewarded for giving us what we want, in terms of revealed preference. But we haven’t created equally strong institutions that mimic the angels of old – rewarded for giving us what we want in terms of stated preference.

Until (if?) that happens, we really need to develop an immune response to hatemongering.  Never share anything that pisses you off. Especially if it’s about someone from the other side. DOUBLE ESPECIALLY if it’s because they are doing something evil or idiotic that must be stopped before all of society is destroyed. And if we could coordinate some sort of institutional response that would punish these media companies/devils whenever they do this (seriously, government oversight to head off a civil war is a legitimate use of government power IMHO), that would be great. Maybe necessary.

  4 Responses to “The media would create a civil war purely for the ratings…”

  1. The biggest escalation at any point in the chain is the escalation in this post from the media suggesting trump is evil to you suggesting an imminent civil war. Suggestions like that, even for dramatic effect, push the Overton window, and push it in a particularly dangerous way. I say this not as a jab but as a really suggestion, you should deliberately engage meta-cognition and reflect on who is being extreme for clicks here.

    • Huh. That is an interesting point. I will have to consider this further. You don’t think there is value in saying “Look at what is happening, and how our emotions are being manipulated, this could turn into a very bad thing” ? Or, not enough to outweigh the Overton window push, anyway? I had thought of it as a push in the opposite direction, to be honest.

  2. What odds would you bet at for American civil war between now and let’s say 2030? I’d easily take 10:1 that it doesn’t happen.

    • How big are we talking? Full-scale war ala the first Civil War, no. But sectarian violence similar to what we see in what we call “failed states”? A 10% chance of something like that happening in at least one major US city, or a large chunk of the countryside, within the next 15 years? I would certainly take that bet. If you’re still willing, under that definition.

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