The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd had a few paragraphs today that provided valuable perspective:
The Wall Street Journal had a chilling report a few days ago that Facebook’s own research in 2018 revealed that “our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness. If left unchecked,” Facebook would feed users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.”
Why not just let all the bots trying to undermine our elections and spreading false information about the coronavirus and right-wing conspiracy theories and smear campaigns run amok? Sure, we’re weakening our society, but the weird, infantile maniacs running Silicon Valley must be allowed to rake in more billions and finish their mission of creating a giant cyberorganism of people, one huge and lucrative ball of rage.“The shareholders of Facebook decided, ‘If you can increase my stock tenfold, we can put up with a lot of rage and hate,’” says Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“These platforms have very dangerous profit motives. When you monetize rage at such an exponential rate, it’s bad for the world. These guys don’t look left or right; they just look down. They’re willing to promote white nationalism if there’s money in it. The rise of social media will be seen as directly correlating to the decline of Western civilization.”
Facebook and Twitter are certainly culpable in this American decline. I deleted my Facebook account years ago – not because of their nefarious influences on the body politic, but because I didn't trust them to make ethical decisions as a corporation. It would be nice if all Facebook and Twitter users did the same, but it's not going to happen....In the bygone era, [a Colorado neighbor] wrote to me: “No wonder Republicans are laughing at us. The billionaire politicians have complete control (besides the military at this point), no oversight, and most of their constituents are armed, some heavily, and ready to defend them. Roll over and die? What the hell? Time to even things up. To save this country. Hopefully, guns will always be a deterrent, but they may be our last hope to save this country. Time to gun up, liberals!”If you prefer, think of “gun up” as get real, get tough, get registered, get mobilized, get implacable and vote Trump out. Or you may just want to go down to the range.
As a means of self-correction, I will now repeat a quote I read – somewhere – and remember more than 50 years later: "To a wet philosopher, all is wetness."