[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

That is my secret hope. If he turns it more like reddit where all the misinformation is de-centralized amongst sub reddits, it will at worst slow the spread. At best, people will lose interest because the market for their product will be segmented and less profitable and interesting.
The morass being separated will also make it easier to moderate...

Listen, if he just turns the whole goddamn thing off, it'd raise my opinion of him by 1,000 points.

That said, I'm wagering the new CEO will either be Cernovich, Tim Pool or Dennis Prager.

Y'know, the centrist voices.

Joe Rogan?

via Garbage Day wrote:

How Did Furries Get Swept Up In The Culture War?

Following the various narratives of right-wing media is not easy. Which is by design. There is a general shape to how conservatives transmit ideas, which then informs policy. But it largely happens in disconnected and seemingly random bursts across various levels of mass media until it begins to resemble some kind of consensus.

You’ll see something on Twitter, then you’ll notice a few headlines in newspapers about it, maybe see a joke about it on a bumper sticker, some memes, then maybe a Fox News segment, until finally, whatever the thing is, it feels as if it’s everywhere. This process is something that Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute and the architect of the current “grassroots” anti-critical race theory movement, has admitted — and bragged — about exploiting. But it’s not just Rufo and critical race theory. In the absence of Trump, American conservatives have turned their attention to community governance and infrastructure — libraries, schools, town boards — where local grievances bubble up seemingly out of nowhere into national moral panics. What if the Salem Witch Trials were applied to any and every thing you can imagine and hooked up to Facebook and Twitter?

But this decentralized conservative machine also means that weird things can get absorbed into right-wing politics. Which is how Nebraska State Senator Bruce Bostelman ended up giving a speech in March about furries using litter boxes in high school genderless bathrooms.

This whole speech is nonsense and Bostelman eventually apologized for it, but it also begs the question: how did furries get rolled up in the conservative trans panic?

From what I can tell, it seems to be the combination of a Facebook rumor and Twitter drama happening at the same time, causing a weird outrage feedback loop to play out between the furry community and conservatives.

In December, a rumor swept through the local Facebook network for Midland County, Michigan. The rumor, which was eventually shot down in a Facebook post from Michael E. Sharrow, the superintendent for the county, gained so much traction that it came up during a school board meeting right before Christmas. “At the December 20 Board of Education meeting, a community member addressed the Board of Education,” Sharrow wrote in a January Facebook post. “During her comments she stated that litter boxes were provided within MPS student restrooms for those who identify themselves as ‘furries.’”

Sharrow’s post got a few hundred shares, but because of how localized Facebook is now, you don’t really need a one hugely viral post to get an idea to start circulating, just a lot of little posts saying the same thing. There’s a chance the whole thing would have died down, but the story was too much for the New York Post to resist, which wrote it up with the headline, “School district denies litter boxes for students identifying as ‘furries’”. According to social analytics site Buzzsumo, the Post article was the most shared story about the rumor. Also, there is no actual way to debunk anything within conservative social media because it’s all reactionary, so even a story denying something just helps amplify it.

And so, as the furry bathroom panic began spreading on Facebook. And in a strange twist of fate, furries on Twitter in February then began a campaign to help fund a library in Ridgeland, Mississippi. At the time, the town’s mayor was withholding over $100,000 from the library unless it agreed to ban a bunch of books that contained LGBT content. Furries are really good at using the internet and one furry named @SoatokDhole heard about what was happening in Ridgeland, got mad about it, and started a donation campaign which raised over $100,000 for the library in a matter of days. You can check out @SoatokDhole’s original thread here and VICE wrote about it at the time.

According to one furry I spoke to for this piece, BowieBarks, furries think the library crowdfund is why Republicans are so mad at them. But it seems clear that the Republicans were already mad at furries for the bathroom thing. But now both groups are duking it out on social media. And this resulted in this truly incredible tweet from Kandiss Taylor, a 2022 Georgia gubernatorial candidate.

Taylor has also put out anti-furry campaign materials that cite the furry bathroom panic from Facebook, but her replies are full of furries tweeting porn at her. Sorry, I’m still laughing over the sentence, “the furry days are over when I’m governor.”

Anyways, in this Reddit post from February, furries are trying to figure out where the bathroom rumor originally came from and speculate it was 4chan. It’s definitely possible, but the earliest mentions I found to furry litter boxes in school bathrooms on 4chan was in April.

A few days after Bostelman made his weird furry speech in Nebraska, right-wing talk show host Vicki McKenna went on a show called the the Dr. Duke Show, which is hosted by Dr. Duke Pesta, a transphobic right-wing broadcaster from Wisconsin, and claimed that the Waunakee school district in Wisconsin was going to install furry litter boxes under what McKenna called the “furry protocol” lmao. A clip of McKenna was then shared by Libs Of TikTok.

And the anti-furry thing has stuck with Libs Of TikTok ever since. As part of a full-on assault against schools, the account has repeatedly shared very fake pictures of furry lesson plans, claiming they were infiltrating schools all over the country. Mashable’s Matt Binder was able to figure out where the fake furry lesson plan materials were coming from. A super toxic spin-off of Reddit’s r/drama subreddit has been photoshopping them and sharing them around the web.

But as I said, it doesn’t matter if this is all fake and based on nothing. It’s about using America’s information systems to overload the average person. Conservatives want to overwhelm libraries, school boards, local Facebook groups — anywhere communities congregate — and fill up those spaces with so much bull sh*t that you eventually can’t and don’t care what’s real or not anymore. And trying to debunk these things only makes them more interesting to the paranoid weirdos sharing them on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a complete hijacking of how we communicate, both online and off. And it may seem silly because, in this instance, it’s about as something as patently ridiculous as furries using a litter box, but it should be very clear now that it will only be ridiculous for so long before it becomes very serious.

DAMN. My bold prediction for 2021 was "Furries and VTubers will be instrumental in subverting a cultural status quo (similar to what Kpop Stans did in 2020)." I should have carried it over to this year. I knew those kids were all right.

I clicked on one of the right-wing tweets linked in that quote, and the hateful stupid garbage that twitter churned up next to it makes me despair for the future of this country and further my resolve to leave.

Amoebic wrote:

DAMN. My bold prediction for 2021 was "Furries and VTubers will be instrumental in subverting a cultural status quo (similar to what Kpop Stans did in 2020)." I should have carried it over to this year. I knew those kids were all right.

Since the furries and litterbox rumor mill started in 2021, you can count it as fulfilled. I'm not sure where or when it first started, my it hit my state in late summer/early fall of 2021.

Stengah wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

DAMN. My bold prediction for 2021 was "Furries and VTubers will be instrumental in subverting a cultural status quo (similar to what Kpop Stans did in 2020)." I should have carried it over to this year. I knew those kids were all right.

Since the furries and litterbox rumor mill started in 2021, you can count it as fulfilled. I'm not sure where or when it first started, my it hit my state in late summer/early fall of 2021.

It started as a 4chan op. One of their attempts to see who would believe an intentionally ridiculous and inflammatory story.

I'll take it!

The kids may be alright, but I'm more pessimistic. Eight months ago, "teachers are grooming your kids and we should have a Nuremberg-style trials about it" would've been insane.

And it may seem silly because, in this instance, it’s about as something as patently ridiculous as furries using a litter box, but it should be very clear now that it will only be ridiculous for so long before it becomes very serious.
Prederick wrote:

The kids may be alright, but I'm more pessimistic. Eight months ago, "teachers are grooming your kids and we should have a Nuremberg-style trials about it" would've been insane.

These are the same people that believed a completely fictional story about satanic child blood rituals behind held in the basement of a one-story pizza shop. They are the most gullible rubes and their click-bait grifters know it. This wouldn't have been insane six years ago, let alone eight months. It's pretty tame, comparatively.

I would quibble that there's a difference between "gullible rubes" and "people who want to believe the lie," but the impact is the same so that's a largely pointless distinction.

Prederick wrote:

I would quibble that there's a difference between "gullible rubes" and "people who want to believe the lie," but the impact is the same so that's a largely pointless distinction.

Many of them start as gullible rubes, then quickly become people who want to believe the lie rather than admit they were a gullible rube.

Not to say that liberals and leftists don't do this, too. We also want to believe every rumor about some Republican turning out to be gay, or a rapist, or a pedophile, or serial adulterer, or whatever. The difference is that those rumors are usually true.

Lookin' at you, Lady G.

Mixolyde wrote:

Not to say that liberals and leftists don't do this, too. We also want to believe every rumor about some Republican turning out to be gay, or a rapist, or a pedophile, or serial adulterer, or whatever. The difference is that those rumors are usually true.

Also, the rumors tend to be less fantastical (read: insane bullsh*t). Matt Gaetz Venmoing underage girls for sex is a lot less of a stretch from normality than Biden drinking the blood of infants to stay virile.

Mixolyde wrote:

Not to say that liberals and leftists don't do this, too. We also want to believe every rumor about some Republican turning out to be gay, or a rapist, or a pedophile, or serial adulterer, or whatever. The difference is that those rumors are usually true.

Respectfully, bullsh*t we do.

Liberals aren't turning up outside Matt Gaetz's house packing heat before OR after credible evidence surfaces.

Jonman wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:

Not to say that liberals and leftists don't do this, too. We also want to believe every rumor about some Republican turning out to be gay, or a rapist, or a pedophile, or serial adulterer, or whatever. The difference is that those rumors are usually true.

Respectfully, bullsh*t we do.

Liberals aren't turning up outside Matt Gaetz's house packing heat before OR after credible evidence surfaces.

I think that bothsiderism like this is a bit like people saying "I'm a little [insert mental illness that the person does not have]". No, you are not a little obsessive compulsive/OCD/whatever. Those mental illnesses take natural healthy mental processes/tendencies and exaggerate them to the point that they become a problem. Having the underlying tendency to a non-problematic degree is not "a little ADD" (or whatever), it's just being a normal healthy human.

Do liberals/leftists/etc. Engage in motivated reasoning, have a tendency to believe the worst about those they view as against them and the best about those they see as on their side? Well they are humans, and those are human traits, so yes. Obviously. That does not mean that they do those things to the pathological degree that the right does. When discussing the giant issues created by the right doing those things to a pathological degree it is neither helpful, nor true to say "the left does it too". In that context "it" is exhibiting those traits *as a demographic* to a *pathological extent*. While there are certainly individuals on the left that do those things to a pathological extent (and presumably individuals on the right who don't), and as a demographic the left displays normal amounts of those traits that one would expect in any healthy demographic, neither of those things is the "it" being discussed.

"The staff at the in patient OCD facility all has OCD too" is neither helpful nor true just because they all have worries like if they locked their door this morning, how they are going to pay off their student loans, or did they remember to pay the electric bill. For at least most of the staff those worries don't interfere with living a normal life, so they definitionally do not have OCD.

Stengah wrote:
Prederick wrote:

I would quibble that there's a difference between "gullible rubes" and "people who want to believe the lie," but the impact is the same so that's a largely pointless distinction.

Many of them start as gullible rubes, then quickly become people who want to believe the lie rather than admit they were a gullible rube.

No, you've got it backwards. Most people start out wanting to believe the lie. Because they're bored and want to feel like righteous heroes - but deep down they know it's a lie. But because LARP:ing against an imagined evil gives them license to punish the people they hate and feels so good - they double down until they're indistinguishable from the rubes.

This nonsense is just the anti-kitten burning coalition on steroids.

The kitten-burners seem to fulfill some urgent need. They give us someone we can clearly and correctly say we’re better than. Their extravagant cruelty makes us feel better about ourselves because we know that we would never do what they have done. They thus function as signposts of depravity, reassuring the rest of us that we’re Not As Bad As them, and thus letting us tell ourselves that this is the same thing as us being good.

Kitten-burners are particularly useful in this role because their atrocious behavior seems wholly alien and without any discernible motive that we might recognize in ourselves. We’re all at least dimly aware of our own potential capacity for the seven deadlies, so crimes motivated by lust, greed, gluttony, etc. — even when those crimes are particularly extreme — still contain the seed of something recognizable. People like Ken Lay or Hugh Hefner don’t work as signposts of depravity because we’re capable, on some level, of envying them for their greed and their hedonism. But we’re not the least bit jealous of the kitten-burners. Their cruelty seems both arbitrary and unrewarding, allowing us to condemn it without reservation.

Again, I whole-heartedly agree that kitten-burning is really, really bad. But the leap from “that’s bad” to “I’m not that bad” is dangerous and corrosive. I like to call this Thornton Melon morality. Melon was the character played by Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Back to School, the wealthy owner of a chain of “Tall & Fat” clothing stores whose motto was “If you want to look thin, you hang out with fat people.” That approach — finding people we can compare-down to — might make us feel a little better about ourselves, but it doesn’t change who or what we really are. The Thornton Melon approach might make us look thin, but it won’t help us become so. Melon morality is never anything more than an optical illusion.

This comparing-down is ultimately corrosive because it bases our sense of morality in pride rather than in love — in the cardinal vice instead of the cardinal virtue. And to fuel that pride, we end up looking for ever-more extreme and exotically awful people to compare ourselves favorably against, people whose freakish cruelty makes our own mediocrity show more goodly and attract more eyes than that which hath no foil to set it off.

Melon morality is why if the kitten-burners didn’t already exist, we would have to invent them.

And, of course, we do invent them. After a while the buzz of pride we get from comparing ourselves to the kitten-burners begins to fade and we start looking for a stronger drug. Who could possibly be even worse than the kitten-burners?

How about Satan-worshippers?

Sure, however, as I said, as I've gotten older I've realized...

Prederick wrote:

the impact is the same so that's a largely pointless distinction.

The psychoanalysis is us trying to make sense of the world, but broadly, however they have come to it, as true believers, as knowing grifters, as trigger the libs trolls, the impact is functionally the same.

I find every episode of this podcast interesting and helpful.

I just finished reading this article and it was fascinating. (and very relevant to this thread)

WHY THE PAST 10 YEARS OF AMERICAN LIFE HAVE BEEN UNIQUELY STUPID

Wow.

Uh.

You could probably close the thread after that. Hell, you could delete every other post, that's really all that needs to be said.

EDIT: Seriously though. Mother-F*CK Mark Zuckberg.

Also, here's two related stories about the internet and clothes, which both fall under the "Me No Likey" umbrella:

Fake friends shilling lipstick: welcome to WeChat’s hottest sales trend

To her hundreds of customers, Wang Yuanyuan is more of a friend than a salesperson. The entrepreneur runs Korean-style womenswear stores in four major Chinese cities, but on WeChat, she’s online around the clock, ready with gossip about popular TV shows, Covid-19 news, fashion trends, even advice on the best camping spots. When someone complains about a bad day, Wang is immediately there with comforting advice. On International Women’s Day, she sends them all virtual red packets containing small cash rewards.

Her friendly rapport has paid off in orders placed by the thousands. Wang told Rest of World that the chat groups, which she runs with her colleagues, bring in more revenue than their four physical retail stores combined.

“You have to know women,” she said. “They want to look good. They want to get more with less money. They also want to feel that you really love them.”

Wang is among the thousands of entrepreneurs in China using WeChat to capitalize on a marketing trend that has taken the country’s e-commerce industry by storm: private traffic. Traditional open e-commerce marketplaces like Taobao and Tmall are impersonal and dull, avid salespeople and business owners suggest, keeping brands removed from a true connection with shoppers. Brands use private traffic to turn occasional shoppers into dedicated consumers by interacting with them in the same way they might text family and friends.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: Inside Shein’s Sudden Rise

Last fall, in the stagnation of pandemic life, I became fascinated with videos of influencers standing in their bedrooms and trying on clothes from a company called Shein.

In the TikToks, hashtagged #sheinhaul, a young woman would hold up a big plastic bag and rip into it, releasing a cascade of smaller plastic bags, each containing a neatly folded item of clothing. The shot would then cut to the woman wearing one piece at a time, rapid-fire, interspersed with screenshots from Shein’s app showing the prices: an $8 dress, a $12 swimsuit.

Down this rabbit hole were variations on the theme: #sheinkids, #sheincats, #sheincosplay. The videos invited the viewer to marvel at a surreal collision of low cost and abundance. The comments, in keeping with the mood, were performatively supportive (“BOD GOALS”). At some point, someone would question whether such cheap clothing could possibly be ethical, but a chorus of voices would leap in to defend Shein and the influencer with equal zeal (“There so cute tho.” “It her money, leave her alone.”) and the original commenter would go silent.

What made this more than random internet arcana is that Shein has stealthily become an enormous business. “Shein emerged very quickly,” says ​​Sheng Lu, a professor at the University of Delaware who studies the global textile and apparel industry. “Two years ago, three years ago, nobody had ever heard of them.” Earlier this year, the investment firm Piper Sandler surveyed 7,000 American teens about their favorite ecommerce sites and found that while Amazon was the clear winner, Shein came in second. The company claims the largest slice—28 percent—of the US fast-fashion market.

In April, Shein reportedly raised $1 billion to $2 billion in private funding. The company was valued at $100 billion—higher than the combined worth of fast-fashion titans H&M and Zara, and higher than that of any private company in the world besides SpaceX and Byte-Dance, the owner of TikTok.

Shein’s success at attracting this kind of capital startled me, given that the fast-fashion business is among the most harmful industries in the world. Its dependence on synthetic textiles damages the environment, and, by encouraging people to refresh their wardrobes nonstop, it produces tremendous waste; the volume of textiles in US landfills has nearly doubled over the past two decades. Meanwhile, the workers stitching the clothes are paid little to labor in exhausting, sometimes dangerous conditions. In recent years, many of the largest fashion companies have felt pressure to make small moves toward reform. Now, though, an emerging generation of “ultrafast-fashion” companies has come along, and many are doing little, if anything, to adopt better practices. Among them, Shein is by far the biggest.

Nomad wrote:

I just finished reading this article and it was fascinating. (and very relevant to this thread)

WHY THE PAST 10 YEARS OF AMERICAN LIFE HAVE BEEN UNIQUELY STUPID

The stupidity on the right is most visible in the many conspiracy theories spreading across right-wing media and now into Congress. “Pizzagate,” QAnon, the belief that vaccines contain microchips, the conviction that Donald Trump won reelection—it’s hard to imagine any of these ideas or belief systems reaching the levels that they have without Facebook and Twitter.

snip

The universal charge against people who disagree with this [Leftist] narrative is not “traitor”; it is “racist,” “transphobe,” “Karen,” or some related scarlet letter marking the perpetrator as one who hates or harms a marginalized group. The punishment that feels right for such crimes is not execution [as it is on the right]; it is public shaming and social death.

Someone call a chiropractor, the mental backbending the author is doing to both sides this argument is gonna hurt! This is probably my number one criticism of the ultra senstive right -- they think name calling is the same as violence.

Higgledy wrote:

I find every episode of this podcast interesting and helpful.

Is it a freely available podcast, or is it just on youtube? I need some extra listening and I could use more CH in my life

Nomad wrote:

I just finished reading this article and it was fascinating. (and very relevant to this thread)

WHY THE PAST 10 YEARS OF AMERICAN LIFE HAVE BEEN UNIQUELY STUPID

Thank you for sharing. That was a great read that provoked quite a range of internal responses and an almost overwhelming amount of information that is going to take some time for me to digest and sift through. I was initially frustrated that it felt like the author was oversimplifying things by portraying viral media as the source of almost all our current woes, but was glad to see that later in the essay they did consider prior elements of the breakdown of our society as well.

My only major criticism of the piece is that it seems to paint an overly rosy picture of our nation in the mid-to-lateish 20th century, when our trusted institutions were in fact interfering and creating serious harm in other nations, especially South and Central America.

UpToIsomorphism wrote:
Higgledy wrote:

I find every episode of this podcast interesting and helpful.

Is it a freely available podcast, or is it just on youtube? I need some extra listening and I could use more CH in my life

I only watch it on YouTube but yes it is. It’s a different guest every week and they are all worth listening to.

Elon Musk Says He Would Allow Trump Back On Twitter

Another nail in the coffin of democracy or just a canary in the coal mine that shows how it is already dead/dying?

Certainly seems to be on life support or circling the drain.

farley3k wrote:

Elon Musk Says He Would Allow Trump Back On Twitter

Another nail in the coffin of democracy or just a canary in the coal mine that shows how it is already dead/dying?

JC wrote:

Certainly seems to be on life support or circling the drain.

I think it's as much a statement on Capitalism as it is on Democracy.

Let rich people do whatever they want, and, shockingly, they'll do what's best for themselves and not for the country as a whole. Then the country fails, the government collapses, and they all sail away on their yachts to their private islands. The fact that it's Democracy that's failing is almost secondary to how it got here in the first place - and Elon is just another reminder of what exactly that was. Even if Trump is a serial liar, he's popular, so having him on your platform gets you more users, which gets you more money, which is what the game is all about.