Digital Splinters

The ongoing problems in politics and social media surrounding the current president, the alt-right, and other emerging counter-cultures raise a fundamental question for society: what should society do when a large segment decides to ditch the mores that were previously universal?

The answer to that question is not going to be the same every time, because it depends on how vital the particular departure is. If it’s forgoing capitalization, maybe we can live with that. If it’s targeting a race or religion, that’s not abidable.

With any movement, there will be the shades of fervency, and it takes time for things to shake out. Are they productive, or destructive, and what ideas or behaviors can society gain and lose? The civil rights movement, for example, brought tactics like sit-ins, which were productive, giving clarity of cause to their struggle. The fire hoses turned on marchers were destructive, which set the southern establishment as alien to the larger society.

All of this comes against the backdrop of the internet, with its varied mores and boundaries. We have communities comprised of sub-communities, often fleeting, arising with a hashtag and then blowing away with the next moment’s news. We have anonymity, masking who (and sometimes what) people are. But we also have the broken constants of bots who tirelessly draft netizens into the fracas of the day.

There is need for the hosts of the internet to allow for better tools to allow individuals to communicate, to remove the frictions that develop, but to also retreat and erect barriers when needed. Unfortunately, the business mindset is likely not adjusted to that role. It may take collective bargaining on behalf of users to force these corporations to devote the resources needed to prevent the repetitive destruction of bad actors.


The Conservative Counter-Culture

Jade Helm 15 is a military training operation set to kick off later this year. But to the conservative counter-culture it is a threat to national security.

Back in the 1960s there was a counter-culture on the left of the political spectrum. These days, though, it seems the most diverging culture in the United States is found on the right. Every time a Democrat is in the White House, gun sales go up. Even healthy eating and pro-fitness programs are under suspicion. And, as time ticks down on Obama’s last term, it seems the counter-culture is beating the drum louder and faster than ever. If Obama is going to act to install whatever NWO Illuminati scheme he has planned, he’ll have to get to it pretty soon.

But why is there a counter-culture at all? The Republicans control both the House and Senate, plus a majority of state legislatures, and a majority of state governorships. You would think that, in the face of such overwhelming party dominance, the conservatives would feel pretty happy right now.

The fact that they don’t speaks more to their expectations of government, driven by media, than to the realities of government. Stump speeches and conservative media have promised them sweeping changes that are impractical.

For their party’s own inaction on immigration reform, they lack a giant, shiny border wall, while the country lacks a reasonable immigration system based on the actual needs of the country.

For all their compassionate promises to end choice for women, the results have been a long series of ever-more ridiculous measures that have been defeated in the courts. Their pyrrhic victories in passing these laws have been a slow, long erosion of access to healthcare for women.

For all their bitching about taxes, realigning the system so that the rich pay less, many state budgets are feeling the crunch of an impractical revenue burden without the needed revenue stream. Indeed, the fiscal drought in many red states is as self-inflicted as California’s real drought, in many ways.

The party’s own failure to evolve on a host of issues has resulted in distrust and pixelation.

Conservative politicians are scared of their own constituents, of failing to get reelected, so they simply lie and claim that they can do things they know they won’t. And when they don’t, the counter-culture gets mad. Things like the Tea Party blossom.

But such disarray cannot last. Neither can the professional party denial of certain basic principles of modern government, like social programs. No, at some point the GOP national and local has to tell the truth and come back toward the center. Only then will the counter-culture begin to normalize itself.

For what it’s worth, it’s not like the Democrats are capitalizing on this cultural crisis on the right. They aren’t running particularly innovative or experimental local campaigns to try to bring people from the far-right to the center.

And the conservative media, at least to my eye, is very insular. There is no good, clean, independent conservative voice I’m aware of. I guess because media requires access, everyone in the conservative tent has to toe the line, except on the far right outskirts where you stumble into things like Jade Helm 15.