Saturday, April 27, 2019

Alan Jacobs links to "Twitter is not America" and a sideways shift to Deboer on not being in the "conversation" online.

As the platforms age, their devotees become more and more distinct from the regular person. For more than a decade now, many people in media and technology have been feeding an hour or two of Twitter into our brains every single day. Because we’re surrounded by people who live their lives like this — and, crucially, because so many of the journalists who write about the internet experience the internet in this way — it might feel like this is just how Twitter is, that a representative sample of America is plugged into the machine in this way.
And thus I renew my plea to journalists.

But the passage that jumped out to me from the article was the following:

In the United States, Twitter users are statistically younger, wealthier, and more politically liberal than the general population. They are also substantially better educated, according to Pew: 42 percent of sampled users had a college degree, versus 31 percent for U.S. adults broadly. Forty-one percent reported an income of more than $75,000, too, another large difference from the country as a whole. They were far more likely (60 percent) to be Democrats or lean Democratic than to be Republicans or lean Republican (35 percent

But Pew’s methodology was able to capture another layer of distortion: The Twitter of the platform’s fanatics is very different from the norm. In other words, Media Twitter is not Median Twitter.

First, Pew split up the Twitter users it surveyed into two groups: the top 10 percent most active users and the bottom 90 percent. Among that less-active group, the median user had tweeted twice total and had 19 followers. Most had never tweeted about politics, not even about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s meeting with Donald Trump.

Someone has a proposal after a somewhat glancing description of how staying away from social media immersion has been better for him.

Consider the Scandinavian social democratic states. I personally do not think that these should be the model that leftists emulate, given that they are in the process of being dismantled. But if you gave me the option to turn America into a social democratic state I’d take it in a heartbeat. Here’s the thing: the Western European social democratic states emerged in a world where the Soviet Union presented a genuine alternative to capitalism, and in a context where there were radical socialist and Marxist parties that opened up space for the social democrats to win. There are other examples, like the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party. The demise of communism coincided with a worldwide rightward tilt, in part because capital no longer felt pressure to build a social welfare state in order to ward off socialist impulses. The Democratic party got dragged to the point where it celebrated welfare “reform” and the attendant rise in extreme poverty because there was no left wing left in the party.
No political party has ever won anything by being on the absolute extreme of a given ideological direction. They’ve all required people further to that extreme to flourish.

Well, not sure I'd see it that way.  Social democracies in western Europe had some benefit in not having to mount their own military systems to defend themselves in the context of the Cold War with the U.S. and U.S.S.R. engaging in "Cold War" and developing nuclear arsenals and alliances or ... maybe let's be quite a bit more plainspoken about this and call them satellites and vassal states.  What if 45 decides the U.S. should just pull out of N.A.T.O.?  Will the western European social democracies be able to take that in stride, water off the proverbial duck's back?  Maybe ... ? I'm not going so far as to suggest that there's no sense at all in the notion that for X leftist to gain some traction that Z leftist needs room to have a political voice in the public sphere that makes X look more reasonable to the "center" and lets a previously never-before-elected W actually get into office.  I'm suggesting, a bit simply I admit, that American power in the post-war period might be a more substantial variable to consider in the western European social democracies than people who are trying to advocate for social democracies might be granting.  Wasn't Paul Kennedy musing almost half a century ago about the possibility that a combination of military over-extension and crises in the sustainability of social welfare programs might be the undoing of the United States?  I'm rusty, really rusty on that ... .

Since I'm not actually on Twitter and rarely visit it I'm not privy to much of what goes on there but I can appreciate the comments made by those who have used it that it is its own kind of ... pocket universe.  

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