The culture of outrage knows no bounds – or common sense!

Sigh.

Entertainers, including sports entertainers, earning millions of dollars per year and looked up to by millions of fans are surprisingly outraged about their miserable life situations. Perplexing.

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TripAdvisor’s censorship of online reviews more extensive than originally thought #tripadvisor

TripAdvisor admitted to censoring some specific negative reviews by consumers reporting that crimes and acts of violence had occurred at some venues.

Since then, more people have documented that TripAdvisor has censored reports of crime at U.S. hotel and related properties. Update: TripAdvisor caught lying, now said to be under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Unfortunately, online review sites are worthless due to a combination of “gaming the system” with fake reviews (both positive for your business and negative fake reviews for competitive businesses) and active censorship of negative reviews by online review sites such as TripAdvisor.com.

Social media’s ease of publishing has led to a rapid degradation in the quality of material available online. Online reviews are a form of propaganda – intended to influence your decision making. Review web sites know this. Business operators know this.

Now we know this: We intentionally avoided search results that went to TripAdvisor.com for a trip we completed over a week ago. What else can we do?

 

Is social media a mental health disease vector?

It made me wonder if we’re in the same boat as the neolithic cities, only for what you might call viruses of the mind: Toxic ideas that spread like wildfire.

….

Likewise, in recent years we’ve gone from an era when ideas spread comparatively slowly, to one in which social media in particular allow them to spread like wildfire. Sometimes that’s good, when they’re good ideas. But most ideas are probably bad; certainly 90% of ideas aren’t in the top 10%. Maybe we don’t know the mental disease vectors that we’re inadvertently unleashing.

Source: Social media threat: People learned to survive disease, we can handle Twitter

Another social media propaganda poster today

This came through my social media feed earlier today. Another example of a simple, well crafted social media propaganda posters that elicits a quick response and a click on the Like and Share buttons.

The quote at top is accurate, so what could be wrong?

Per Snopes, the quote is in reference to before these 4 people were killed at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya and was not in reference to events in Benghazi.

As a propaganda poster, it is effective. A short simple quote with a photograph of Hillary Clinton, followed by photos of 4 people that the target knows were, in fact, killed in Libya.

Very compelling when all we do is apply our fast acting System 1 emotional style thinking.

That makes this a very effective social media propaganda poster even though the conclusion is wrong. No one will bother to research the quote when they see this – instead, they will click on Like and perhaps Share, spreading the false propaganda on to others.

The culture of perpetual outrage is set to kill (we are way past set to stun)

As a comment to one of the stories says, “People will see what they want to see”.

So many people today want to be outraged that they are continuously on the prowl for opportunities to be outraged. And once they have spotted an opportunity for outrage, they share it on social media! The ease with which we can share our outrage becomes a form of propaganda – spreading myths and half truths and creating suspicion where none is warranted.

Even the most innocent or kind actions are viewed by someone as something other than what was intended, as a symbol representing something else that only the perpetually outraged sees.

All of us now walk on egg shells for fear that our most innocent of comments or actions will be interpreted by someone else as something that our action is not.

  • I was once jogging, with my dog, past an elementary school. I was on a public roadway. A schoolyard monitor told me I should not jog past the elementary school on the public road “Because we can never be sure these days“.
  • As a guy, can I go to the zoo by myself or will someone suspect that an older male by himself at the zoo must be a child molester?
  • If I offer my seat on a train to an older person – especially a woman – does that make me a chivalrous sexist lout?
  • If I am friendly and smile at someone, does that mean I am obviously a chivalrous sexist lout?
  • If I hold open or hold a door for anyone other than a white male – does that make me a suspicious character exerting white male patriarchal privilege? (Apparently)
  • Recently, I noticed a blind woman standing near me, in a large, confusing crowd of people. I asked if she needed assistance (no, she was waiting for friends to come to her). Before I asked, I worried my asking might be interpreted as a sign of disrespect – since by asking, I was implying she could not manage on her own, or something, right?
  • If I volunteer at a public school, does that make me a suspicious character who is obviously trying to hang out with young girls and women? (I have been an engineering mentor for high school robotics teams for 9 years – each year I need to have a background check run and undergo two hours of training on harassment – just to be a high skilled engineering volunteer “Because we can never be sure these days”.)
  • Yesterday, a Twitter tweet told me all guys are to blame for the actions of some guys regarding sex harassment by people in power. The tweet further said that I, as a guy, am responsible for their actions. (This type of thinking is identical to that of racists who judge individuals by their skin color or ethnicity, or the sexism that judges all women by the actions of some women.)

See how confusing this gets?

Thanks to the culture of perpetual outrage none of us can interact with others for fear of being accused of misconduct. We can not be friendly and helpful to others without being looked at with suspicion. We must be cautious about offering to volunteer to help others. We cannot engage in perfectly ordinary activities (like walking down a street) without being viewed with suspicion. Wearing the wrong color stocking cap can get us trouble; putting the wrong color shoelaces in our shoes can get us accused of racism.

In a world of perpetual outrage, where the outrage turns all activities into something they are not, all of us are guilty, no matter how hard we try to be a nice and helpful person.

This is the world of social media’s culture of perpetual outrage. Social media is destroying our lives.

Related: How can we keep track of all the interpretations of common symbols? Before I wrote this, I did not know that the “Ok” symbol, drinking milk, or wearing black boots with white or red shoe laces are signs of racism. How can we know how others will interpret what seem like innocent actions?

Notes

Drinking milk is a sign of racism?

The Swedish government issued a report on racism and white power movements in Sweden. A machine translation of their document (original in  Swedish) yielded this from page 33 of the translation:

The paper also notes that placing quotes around certain words, such as “refugee” or “immigrant” imply special meaning, such as questioning whether someone is actually a refugee or immigrant.

Swedish paper source: Kaati, L. (ed.). (2017, Nov). Det vita hatet: radikal nationalism i digitala miljöer  (or English) The white hate: radical nationalism in digital
environments. Published by the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

Another example of fake news

This item appeared in my Facebook crap feed yesterday and linked to a supposed news report. I searched Google News and Bing News for reports about Jimmy Hoffa, “22 bodies”, and “Flint River” and neither returned any relevant stories related to this, a sure sign of creative fake news driving Likes, Shares and selling eye balls to advertisers.

It just never ends, does it?

Bill Gates never gave this high school speech

This crossed by Facebook crap feed this week. It is a fake, of course. The “rules” were written by author Charles Sykes in a couple of books he wrote. This has nothing to do with Bill Gates or even a high school.

Did Bill Gates create a list of ‘Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School’?

Source: Bill Gates High School Speech

But thanks to social media, this was shared, Liked and re-shared again this past week.

‘Fake news’ becomes a business model: researchers

Is this fake news? Duh? Hello? I’ve been writing about this for a long time and researchers just notice that “fake news” is “a profitable business model”?

Cyber criminals have latched onto the notion of “fake news” and turned it into a profitable business model, with services starting at under $10, security researchers said Thursday. The online security firm Digital Shadows released a report highlighting services aimed at creating bogus media

Source: ‘Fake news’ becomes a business model: researchers

Good grief, such insight!

“Like any good news story, content will be shared, liked, reposted and distributed across many different platforms and channels,” the report said.

and

Holland said misinformation has been around for a long time but that “what has changed in the digital world is the speed such techniques spread around the world.”

Really? I would have never guessed!

 

And now for the rest of the story …

Source: Seattle hits record high for income inequality, now rivals San Francisco

The data presented in the article is correct. But it leaves out critical information for understanding what this means overall, or even if it means what it purports to mean.

Almost 20 years ago in a graduate economics course we learned that the “static” view of income at an instant in time is not a full picture. Not surprisingly, incomes change over time, often by a lot. Consider when someone starts a career, but over time, advances in their career or grows their own business – their income rises over time.

20 years ago we learned that most people start their earnings in the bottom #1 or #2 quintiles and then most rise to the top #4 or #5 quintiles. Upon retirement, the typical  person then falls backwards by 1 or 2 quintiles.

Other research captures this effect in a different way. 73% of Americans end up in the top 20% of income for 1 year or more (details are not provided as to whether this is due to unique, once in a life event, or spans many years, or occurs many times over several disconnected years).

Source

A professor of social welfare wrote about this in the NY Times in 2014.

The “income inequality” subject is a popular one in the news media and among political activists. By definition, political activists are engaged in propaganda – they are trying to convince you to adopt their agenda versus adopting someone else’s agenda. In this specific instance, the propaganda message supports a Seattle City local income tax.

The propaganda message is simple to understand – the top 20% (in the first chart) make more than half of all the area income. This message is very effective – the bottom 80% make less than half. This message is easily interpreted by the bottom 80% and may become the basis for policy.

Many in the bottom 80% are likely unaware that most will see considerably higher incomes in the future. Consequently, this propaganda message is highly effective, preying on lack of knowledge to push someone’s agenda.

The methods used include (usually) “appeal to authority”, “cherry picking” and sometimes “Get on the bandwagon” (some other city is doing x, y and z). The discrepancy in income stratas may also invoke an “emotional” response in the target.

This post is not about whether the income inequality in Seattle is good or bad, right or wrong or whether the solution is a redistribution income tax or not. This post illustrates how presenting one part of a complex topic leaves the public thinking they have learned something when by learning only a partial view they may be dumber than before they read the article. This post does not examine if a very small number of extremely successful entrepreneurs in the Seattle area (think who lives there!) bias the sample with outliers.

This story illustrates the power of propaganda methods – after reading only the above Seattle Times article, would you be more or less likely to support a city income tax? After reading the source for the second chart and learning about how incomes are dynamic, over time, would you be more or less likely to support a city income tax?