Thursday, August 2, 2018

Disconnecting from Social Media

After many years of being active on various social media, I've come to the conclusion that most of it is garbage. Myspace, LiveJournal, Facebook, and a few other, more obscure social media portals have all fallen from their goals of connecting people, and if they're still around they have “evolved” into being mostly mindless echo chambers.


The widening political divide is a large part of the problem; most people aren't willing to communicate with someone who supports “the other side”. This lack of tolerance for the “other” has led to what I call “intellectual incest”, a state where new thoughts are not allowed and the old thoughts are repeated and reinforced so strongly that the participants start to show signs of hemophilia (lack of blood clotting so wounds don't heal), microcephaly (diminished skull capacity), and mental retardation, all commonly found in populations where inbreeding is practiced.

We have a strict “No Politics” rule on our blog and Facebook page because we don't want to become an echo chamber. We want to hear new thoughts and ideas. None of us are “experts”; we're here to learn as well as teach, and that requires the ability to listen to what others have to say. We don't always agree on everything -- I've had readers bring up conflicting evidence several times -- but we keep it civil and polite. Trolls and liars are acceptable targets for ridicule, but honest disagreement is allowed and opinions are (for the most part) respected. I fear we are becoming a rarity on the Internet.


There is a theory that has been repeatedly tested on how to get people to do things to other people, generally applied to soldiers who have been taught since birth that it is wrong to kill other people. Not killing people is a good thing to teach children, but creates a problem when there are people who need to be killed. 
  1. The first step to overcoming this childhood training is “othering”: creating or highlighting a distinct difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. In the past, most of the “othering” was based on race or religion, and sometimes language and cultural differences were used to point out the “inferior” or “sub-human” qualities that made it permissible to kill another person.
    • A slight alternative is to completely dehumanize the “other”, making them not-human and therefor not protected by our childhood training. We see this in the various zombie and alien gore-fests in popular video games and movies. 
  2.  Once you have created the “other”, it is easier to make it acceptable to do things to them. 
  3. The last step is teaching the soldier how to actually end a human life, which is the easiest part of the training.
Schoolyard bullies use the same techniques when they ostracize the “weird” kid, making him fair game for abuse. Cliches and gangs also use these tactics to strengthen their internal bonds and exclude outsiders from the “benefits” of membership. Using phrases that refer to a person as an animal (pig, dog, rat, etc.) is a milder form of dehumanizing, but it can be used as a stepping stone for future propaganda.

I am seeing this process being used on people more often today than I did in the past, and to much stronger levels. It used to be the tribal/rival sports team and their fans who were joked about, but now it is the dehumanization of anyone who supports a politician or policy that is different. Politicians are openly calling for the harassment of people from the other party; people are being assaulted for wearing the “wrong” hat or T-shirt; destruction of private and public property is happening in broad daylight, and all of this is being celebrated instead of condemned.

The problem I have run into is the incessant seeping of politics into everything on social media. I have friends and acquaintances of just about every stripe you can imagine, but it's getting harder to have a conversation about anything without politics being brought up. Everything is viewed through a filter of politics and political party affiliation, and this is something that I can no longer take part in. I don't really care which driver is behind the wheel when the bus goes over a cliff -- I don't want to be on that bus at all.

Cutting the Cord

I've disconnected from most of my social media accounts, with the exception of the BCP Facebook page. I've decided that it is time to start focusing on things closer to home, and getting rid of distractions is part of that. I'm still going to be here every week, but I won't be following the latest trends on social media unless they pop up in one of my news feeds. 

If TSHTF, I'm not likely to have access to social media, so I consider this preparation for anything that could shut down the Internet. I have a phone and several email accounts, and my friends and family know how to contact me. The various acquaintances I've accumulated over the years will likely not miss me, and if they do they can reach me through mutual friends. 

We're being played with, people. Social media is free because we're not the consumer, we're the product. Every post and note is analyzed and sorted for sale to advertisers or is used to track you. Think of them as a trail of breadcrumbs that lead to your front door; as a prepper, I don't want to be tracked by anyone who is trying to use me.

You may want to at least consider how much personal information you're giving to any group that doesn't have your best interest in mind. If you're like me, you don't like being someone else's pawn and will at least think about leaving social media. This may not be a step you're willing to take yet, but I have reached my limit of negativity and outright manipulation.

Like testing any other prep, stay off all social media for a week and evaluate how it works for you. I think you'll be surprised at how easy it is to do.

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