Why Social Media Exists
A few days ago, Harry Potter author and knee-jerk progressive J.K. Rowling tweeted support for one Maya Forstater, who got fired from her job as a tax specialist for saying that “pro-science” progressives ought to accept the fact that men cannot change into women, even if this fact hurts some men’s feelings.
For her simple expression of a belief so basic that until a few years ago almost no one on this planet would have thought it was even a topic of debate at all, unless perhaps as a comedy routine, Ms. Forstater is no longer employed as a tax expert. In supporting her ridiculous cause, Rowling tweeted this:
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 19, 2019
“Sex is real.” With those magical three words, Rowling, a popular feminist icon, got herself “cancelled” (i.e., suffered a mob social media lynching from thousands of neo-Marxist goons).
And notice that Rowling was not even directly saying that transgenderism is based on a falsehood, so much as questioning the rationality of women — women, specifically, since this is essentially an intramural fight among female Marxists — being “forced out of their jobs” for merely expressing that opinion, an opinion that until just a few years ago was almost unanimously presumed as self-evident truth. For that — for publicly supporting a woman who lost her job for stating a private opinion that has common sense and the entire history of the human race on its side — Rowling is being universally denounced as an evil, intolerant hypocrite and hater all over social media. And the New York Times has piled on, wondering in an op-ed whether readers will ever again be able to separate the Harry Potter series’ message of “acceptance and unconditional love” from the disgusting impurity of its author.
And as Fred T. at Right Scoop outlines nicely, the next chapter of the story is even more telling. Actress Bebe Neuwirth clicked “Like” on Rowling’s tweet in support of Forstater’s cause. For that — for agreeing that firing a woman for expressing a very normal, common sense opinion is a bad move — Neuwirth too became subject to a social media lynching. And her response was a perfect model of the whole purpose of these social media lynchings: She apologized a hundred times over for being so evil as to like something she should not have liked, for expressing agreement with an opinion she is not allowed to agree with, for transgressing against the majority rule thought police laws of the social media mob. In other words, she voluntarily cut out her own heart and handed her soul to the mob in a desperate, begging plea for readmission to the ranks of the socially approved.
Pure democracy at work, ladies and gentlemen. (And that’s not sarcasm, just a statement of fact.)
Why do you think the major social media companies have protected status with the U.S. federal government? Why do you think these silly services have so quickly become the dominant conduits of public discourse? This is why. Social media conditions all public discourse on any subject of political interest to progressives to be capable of being subverted and overwhelmed by the irrational radicalism and activist aggression of a mob of indoctrinated, shouting idiots. It takes great courage and seriousness of purpose — a willingness to die for the preservation of one’s independent mind — to withstand such overwhelming social pressure, and pressure exerted in a public forum, with all the most horrible attacks against you visible to the whole world, forever.
Your friends and family will see what they say against you. Your lovers and enemies will all know that you have been “outed” or “cancelled” — in other words, officially shunned by the self-appointed representatives of Society and Justice and Rights. Your reputation will follow you.
Very few people in any time and place have the kind of courage necessary to make such a stand for the dignity of their own souls alone; but social media’s brilliantly contrived dynamic works to exaggerate both the power of mob disapproval and the sense of isolation in the mind of the person being attacked. Your name and face are there, in lights, on worldwide display, being pelted with stones by thousands of people who, in the safety of virtual reality and large numbers, are restrained by none of the empathy, reasonableness, or personal reservations that prevent most of us in face-to-face encounters from expressing our hatred and wrath so purely, enthusiastically, and mercilessly.
Social media is in practice, and is conceived by progressives in theory to be, a perfect extension of the social vectors of compulsory schooling. From your early childhood until your early adulthood, the state trains you to take all your moral and intellectual cues from “society” and “majority opinion,” which means from the latest progressive propaganda and the soul-diminishing moral pressure of idealized conformity. Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet and social media, the difficult part of totalitarian rule, namely monitoring and continually readjusting the school-indoctrinated population through the rest of their adult lives, is not only viable but actually very easy and almost self-sustaining. A classroom of thirty frightened, submissive, indoctrinated children will keep each other in progressive line quite well, with only a little oversight from the state agents tasked with maintaining “social order,” i.e., the teachers. An advanced world of billions of frightened, submissive, indoctrinated quasi-adults (aka worker units) will keep each other in progressive line even more effectively, with only an occasional rumble of disquiet from within the self-regulating sea of majority rule by social intimidation.
The meekest and most superficially milquetoast of all the great progressive totalitarians, John Dewey, has turned out to be the presiding mind of late modernity. We are living through the fruition of exactly his dream of an “industrial democracy” (aka communism with a carefully conditioned simulacrum of democratic representation) controlled by a lifelong extension of public schooling in the form of what he conceived of as a “social centre,” in effect a continual adult retraining mechanism, in which literacy and intellectual independence are constantly de-emphasized and belittled in favor of “social communication” and the “social mind.” (Read about Dewey’s intentions in detail in my chapter, “Universal Kindergarten,” in The Case Against Public Education.
“Social media” — even down to its name, exploiting his favorite word of theoretical distortion and trickery — is Dewey’s “social centre” come to life. He wins. Freedom and the mind lose.