Saturday, April 21, 2018
Awash in BS 24/7
Is Facebook a malevolent new force for evil in this world? Yeah, actually it is:
Past the end of a remote mountain road, down a rutted dirt track, in a concrete house that lacked running water but bristled with smartphones, 13 members of an extended family were glued to Facebook. And they were furious.
A family member, a truck driver, had died after a beating the month before. It was a traffic dispute that had turned violent, the authorities said. But on Facebook, rumors swirled that his assailants were part of a Muslim plot to wipe out the country’s Buddhist majority.
“We don’t want to look at it because it’s so painful,” H.M. Lal, a cousin of the victim, said as family members nodded. “But in our hearts there is a desire for revenge that has built.”
The rumors, they believed, were true. Still, the family, which is Buddhist, did not join in when Sinhalese-language Facebook groups, goaded on by extremists with wide followings on the platform, planned attacks on Muslims, burning a man to death.
But they had shared and could recite the viral Facebook memes constructing an alternate reality of nefarious Muslim plots. Mr. Lal called them “the embers beneath the ashes” of Sinhalese anger.
We came to this house to try to understand the forces of social disruption that have followed Facebook’s rapid expansion in the developing world, whose markets represent the company’s financial future. For months, we had been tracking riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions.
Time and again, communal hatreds overrun the newsfeed — the primary portal for news and information for many users — unchecked as local media are displaced by Facebook and governments find themselves with little leverage over the company. Some users, energized by hate speech and misinformation, plot real-world attacks.
A reconstruction of Sri Lanka’s descent into violence, based on interviews with officials, victims and ordinary users caught up in online anger, found that Facebook’s newsfeed played a central role in nearly every step from rumor to killing. Facebook officials, they say, ignored repeated warnings of the potential for violence, resisting pressure to hire moderators or establish emergency points of contact.
I don't know why people believe everything they read on Facebook but apparently a lot of them do. I get that there's confirmation bias and information bubbles and tribalism. I get it. But there are always people who see through this stuff with strong bullshit detectors too. I think a lot of people are just looking for permission to be violent.
And it isn't just Facebook. It turns out that Youtube's algorithm guides many people inexorably to extremist videos. It gets the blood pumping. (My Youtube recommendations run to comedy, Jazz, household DIY stuff and animal videos despite the fact that I embed dozens of political videos each week. It's weird.) And we all know how pernicious twitter is.
I live in this world and I have been tracked and trolled by Russian bots and alt-right haters and probably the NSA and the NRA. But it's not all that hard to spot the bullshit. Maybe you have to have been around this stuff for a while, I don't know. But in the meantime, these platforms are creating a global upheaval, some of which is good and some of which is downright terrifying. I don't know where it all ends up.
Then again, I just came across this drivel on Fox News.com, so it's not just the social media platforms. We are awash in bullshit everywhere:
“How long will I be allowed to remain a Christian?”
That was the deeply dismaying question posed to me by a friend with four young children as we discussed the plight of the Christian faith in America and around the world.
With each passing month, that shocking question becomes more relevant and even more disturbing.
To say that Christians and Christianity are under a withering and brutal attack in certain areas of the world would be an understatement.
In various parts of the Middle East, there is a genocidal cleansing of Christians being carried out. Women, men, and their young children are being slaughtered because of their faith and world leaders and most of the media turn their backs in bored indifference.
Here in the United States, Christians and Christianity are mocked, belittled, smeared and attacked by some on a daily basis. This is a bigoted practice that is not only increasing exponentially, but is being encouraged and sanctioned by a number on the left.
Too many of those who worship at the altar of political correctness have deemed that Christianity should no longer be respected. Rather, they assail it on a regular basis in a coordinated campaign to weaken the faith and its base.
The prevailing view in much of the media is that Christianity is aligned with Republicans, conservatives, or the views of President Trump – and therefore must be diminished and made suspect.
The New Yorker just described the opening of a few Chick-fil-A restaurants in New York City as “Pervasive Christian traditionalism,” and a “Creepy infiltration of New York City.”
Christianity is an “infiltration” to some on the left.
In college, they now teach about the evils of “Christian Privilege.” On Broadway and in theaters around the world, mocking Christians has become a massively profitable money-making venture.
In name, on the crucifix, and in art, Jesus Christ is desecrated in the most twisted and obscene of ways. In movies, on television and online, Christians are portrayed in the most dishonest, prejudiced and insulting of ways.
Across the country, Christian colleges are under constant assault from “social justice warriors” seeking to strip their accreditation and put them out of business.
Christian groups on campus are at times being persecuted, their offices and handouts vandalized, with members even being physically assaulted.
In a nation that is still majority Christian, those who follow the faith have been litigated or brow-beaten into being fearful to utter the words “Merry Christmas,” or to display a Nativity scene celebrating the one and only reason there is a Christmas Day.
Want to stay true to your Christian faith in the most innocuous and giving of ways?
To do so is becoming more perilous by the minute, when you stop to ponder just a sampling of the negative consequences. For example:
A high school football coach is fired for taking a knee in prayer. A teacher is fired for giving a Bible to a student who requested it. A Marine is cursed at and then court-martialed for not removing a Bible verse from her computer. Another Bible verse posted by sailors in a military hospital is labeled “extremism.”
For me personally, I continue to be ridiculed for writing and speaking about a vision I had regarding the 40 days after the resurrection.
If you are a practicing Christian in the United States and open about it, you, your congregation and your organization will become a target of some sort. It is only a matter of time.
Ironically, in some very real and ominous ways, it’s as if we are being transported back to ancient Rome.
Will we soon have to meet with fellow Christians in secret? Will we have to whisper our beliefs from the shadows? Will those Christians with “traditional” beliefs lose their jobs and livelihoods if discovered?
As more and more of the mainstream media, entertainment, academia and the hi-tech world continue to purge or discriminate against Christians, what future job fields will be open to young Christians?
Will those Christian children eventually be forced to renounce or deny their faith in order to get a job and provide for their families?
As a Christian, I truly do have the deepest respect for every faith. The vast majority of people of every faith are beyond good and do seek to follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Why do so many on the left, in the media, entertainment and academia not practice that most simple, loving and humane of rules when it comes to the Christian faith?
Yeah, It's pretty much like Rome 64 AD around here.
By the way, that was written by a former Pentagon and White House official under Reagan and Bush I. Or at least he says he was.
digby 4/21/2018 02:00:00 PM