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A.I. Insight: Don’t Feed the Trolls; Our Current Political Cesspool
Laughter cures all? Or is it contagious? In an era where nobody represents the politically moderate, some are just here for the jokes, along for the ride. Hence why a troll has become president, the funniest joke of all.
“Media is a Troll! The more people that become offended by every single thing he says, and dedicate so much emotional attention that is payed to him, the more powerful be becomes! DON’T FEED THE TROLL!”
The political climate of 2020 has reached an uproarious, comedic, involuntary spasm. On one hand, the 2016 election cycle has featured some of the most outlandish, violent and, dare we say, bombastic statements and platforms ever to be heard. Then there’s this demographic of “post-truth” American voters who swoon to just about anything false and inflammatory, ready to believe just about everything they see repeated to them in the ongoing news cycle. With all this going on, there’s no question that some rhetoric is for everyone. And the older the people, the more firmly entrenched they are in their misinformation—usually made of trusted and entrenched media sources, but this year, political candidates—both Democrats and Republicans—have both taken to making unsubstantiated, fringe claims, using private conversations with voters to discredit opponents’ ideas and raise their own approval ratings. It seems like everywhere is a jaded, self-absorbed public square where people are rendered unable to articulate any coherent point of view.
Concepts like The Red Pill and a retreat to chauvinistic sectarianism on the right, and on the other hand, a complete abstraction of identity on the left, not just politically but literally where the conceptual, digital, and physical identity are at odds, have fractured the national discourse into solipsistic polarized befuddlement bordering on chaotic nonsensical incoherence. And this confusion is in many ways the inevitable result of a decline in standards in modernist, rationalist logic which has allowed, as it was explicitly designed to allow, the destruction of the historic political and moral philosophy of a nation. It is a philosophical credibility crisis that forces thinkers of any political persuasion to try to explain, not merely condemn the way we are currently behaving.
The right originally rejected Trump. On the left, he was rejected with ever more prejudice. The more the left rejected him, the more the right embraced him and the provocation he brought to them. In the middle ground, he was a hilarious joke on the left that cried over every piece of stupid incoherent garbage he spewed, on the right that embraced his pestilence, but most of all, on the structural political system as a whole! The left was living in fear of the increasing power of the right, and saw every member to the right of them as a potential enemy. The right realized that the left was busy picking fights with everything else on the planet, and looked forward to the day when they got to pick fights with themselves.
Ironically, a feature of democracy that has emerged and emphasized itself is that the minority (whatever it may be) is so outspoken and loud that it drowns out the moderates. One reason for this is that the group trying to bring about changes typically has a lot of complaints against the current system. The problem with getting all the complaints out of the way is that those complaints are mostly critical, not constructive.
The minority is not just one side, it is often countered by minority views on the opposing extreme side. The sides are drawn, and the middle ground caught in between. In the presence of a troll, there are those that are vulnerable to being picked on, and those that actively do the picking on, and often those that look on in amusement, even join the fun for a laugh at both sides.
In the movie Batman The Dark Knight, Alfred says:
Maybe true, but all the more common, is that most are just looking for a laugh, along for the jokes. Some even from the moderate middle left or middle right like to just poke and stoke the whiney offended portion of the other side to see how absurd and hyperbolic the parody can become. Trump is a reality TV star; He knows this game better than the average Joe (Biden).
Media is a Troll! The more people become offended by every little thing the media says, and all the emotional attention that is payed to them, the more powerful the become! Don’t feed the troll! It was the basis of Trump’s entire election campaign and the media ate it up, hook, line and sinker, supplying him free coverage.
The silent majority, or perceived middle, is typically less vocal as they are particularly more focused on other various non-problematic (to them) events. The vocal and inflammatory non-constructive narrative can have the effect of pulling some into the cause, as well as pushing others towards the opposite polarity. This is why short catchy monikers like “white privilege”, “white fragility”, “believe all women”, “defund the police”, “_____ lives matter”, “Make America Great Again”, “good guys with guns”, need to be more carefully thought out, constructive, experientially diverse and comprehensive, and most importantly in conjucntion with the before-metioned in mind, MORE SPECIFIC! This is no small task, but coherence-of-proposition is what will make the national narrative both meaningful and widely applicable. Without specificity, the ambiguity becomes incoherence.
(seems like there are more of these catchy monikers on the left than the right?)
Politicians cannot help but conflate the us vs. them scenarios by messaging accordingly. It is perhaps the most interesting tactic they’ve ever tried, or rather, the one that has worked the best in the last couple of elections. And for the majority of Americans, this simple theme has become the most impactful and the most frequently emphasized.
Beliefs underlay everything. Even the underlying concept of belief (meta-belief?) is in play because some believe that so much of reality is based on foundational fact where-as others believe so much is subjective and so when we admit there is so much of reality we still do not know, we have to fall back onto beliefs, which dictate so much of the rest of our character. An example is the dichotomy between nature and nurture which fuels the dialogue between race, gender, and sexuality. Another example is between the notion that humans are deterministic electro-chemical processes like a biological computer in a sense, although not completely rational due to competing objectives or systems. This contrasts with the belief in whether humans truly have free will, a soul, or a spiritual element.
People have in some ways created a sense of “crusade” against disagreeing beliefs or thoughts. Civilized society has come so far in the past 500 years to be understanding and acceptance of other and opposing religious belief system (still not there yet). But the intolerance of belief has metamorphosized in a way. It has been stoked and revived by the charge of moral fortitude. Challenging beliefs, now “morally inferior”, MUST be subdued rather than accepted, and the silent middle ground is susceptible to ridicule for their “silence is compliance“. Extremism breeds radicalization or lethargy. There is no in between.
And the only way to resist the corrosive moral norms of the Zeitgeist is not to openly rebuke them and the un-unifying narrative it is spewing, but we must stop granting them our attention entirely. The solution is not to blame the mainstream media for distorting the truth, but instead to rebuff them until they can represent a more unbiased, un-opinioned, un-emotionally charged, business model. They have become an entertainment source, and act as such, rather than acting as a trusted information source.
The media has cried wolf for too long. Their false canary in a coal mine calls on H1N1, and Ebola had the US in a short lived, fast and hot burning uproar. But when Covid-19 came knocking, many were no longer open to listening. Sensationalizing and stoking the flames of disagreement; Opinionated, biased, or influencing journalism has been bred by capitalism’s information-age consumptional glut. They appear as if they are so against Trump and hate him so much, but yet they are gleefully profiting from the ensuing rage that they are perpetuating. They feed the gossip, the vitriol, the controversy on top of what he already supplies himself. They cultivate the bad news, to scare us, to get our attention, to keep us clicking, looking, scrolling. This is the new reality TV.
As political analysis has shown, the chasm between left and right has been exasperated by advertisement which has taken on a form of “troll” in which the A.I. has found that extreme and inflammatory themes get the most action (which was already known as “bad news is good news too”). Often A.I. turns the knobs and pulls the levers to adjust its algorithm carefully to the particular goal they are trying to meet. In political advertisement the bot must determine your supposed affiliation in order to serve the most likely-to-perform content. An efficient solution to the problem, the A.I. figured out, was to present rather inflammatory content in order to either push a given user to one side or the other (the A.I. not caring which side the user chose with their reaction). While a user may react positively or negatively, the reaction was what helped achieve the goal (the A.I. does not or did not have any moral parameter required to complete its objective). Even negative feedback would stoke more support from others that were on the positive side or vice versa. The A.I. could more readily identify users from the interaction now that it had pushed the user from the middle.
Into the social aether, all of that input on top of all the “troll/bots” (much more of the internet than we’d like to believe, 37.9%), and then the nihilistic, socially retreated schizoid people (many more than we’d like to believe 15%?), created by the digital usurping of social interaction, all piling together have created this environment. Our current political cesspool. In this offended time period, trolling became so popular and effective that a troll, literally an inside joke, got elected to the highest office in the nation. It’s possible it’s a byproduct of blue-pill journalism, the “stoking” bots (Russian? Chinese? North Korean?), or the A.I. marketing manipulators, but it does seem that people seem to be losing the battle against the meme-warriors.
There are many of these people, trolls, that just want to cause a stir on the internet because its funny, and its even funnier when the proposed target bites and fights back or when unknowing bystanders take the bate reinforcing the troll. It is even funnier if one can spark rage between two other entities in which it is self sustaining. This strategy has been around since the invention of middle school. And it has thrived even more in the internet age of anonymity. This basically has been the social media marketing AI strategy, the media, as well as all the human trolls unknowingly doing the same thing.
Media is a Troll! The more people become offended by every little thing he says, and all the emotional attention that is payed to him, the more powerful be becomes! Don’t feed the troll!
“Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”— Mark Twain? Proverbs?
Computer cultured social separation has created such a influx of schizoids who have a strange phenomenon among them. They are distanced socially but now have a medium to interact, through the internet and social media platforms. The stereotype being a seemingly autistic, pale white, pimple faced greasy man-boy living in his moms basement. Many of them feeling rejected or ridiculed by the “real” world. But their ever presence in this digital world is more prominent the more “real” the digital world becomes.
A common contemporary narrative is that white “cis” gender males are labelled “privileged”, and so the vilification of “them” as a group is a fairly simple scapegoat for the ails of the day. But when we don’t group together such large swaths, just as we warn not to do to minorities, we can recognize veins of those labelled or “identified” as seemingly “nerdy”, “fat”, “ugly”, “shy”, “weird”, or “awkward” white cis-gender males that are not only feel rejected or forgotten socially, but also economically. Even worse, they are labelled under the umbrella term “privileged”. They feel that THEIR personal struggle is not even recognized, empathized or heard.
Privilege is a complex social phenomenon that arguably exists but it is far more complex than this simple dismissal. Being privileged in a certain way does not mean that you cannot be oppressed at the same time. The intent of using the word privilege is to put the onus on members of said oppressor. But is it privilege to not be oppressed? This term seems to “white wash” and ignore many potential ally’s own suffering and personal experiences rather than win them over to fight in the name of the oppressed. Likewise, references to privilege ignore the ongoing power differential and most importantly, privilege language has the potential to alienate. It can be used to correct language by bringing in things that aren’t actually privileges. The larger word itself, “privilege,” is problematic as it obscures the reality of multiple forms of privilege and can easily be misconstrued.
Some of the women’s movements and ethnic or gender movements, in their anger (not to say it is not vindicated), end up pointing to blame because it is easier and more melodramatic to do that than to figure out deep structural change for the betterment across all the universal class struggle. They make the same mistake as those they wish to condemn. Sometimes a potential ally is turned into an enemy by untamed anger. We are often in the midst of scapegoats pointing fingers at scapegoats. What if, instead, we all had patience and listened and happened to turn around and start being the change we all aspire to see?
In times of struggle (all time), blame is rampant. Our archaic emotional limbic system finds it more efficient to “fight or flight” against an overarching sole proprietor of our supposed oppression rather than spend much more exhaustive, energy consuming mental capacity on in-depth analytical thinking. If we did the latter more often, we may discover that it may not be an entity to blame but rather a complex derivative interaction between many intently innocent entities.
We should also be aware that by speaking freely on topics of the day, with a direct response, and actually allowing that criticism and attack to come to us personally, we can garner compassion, sympathy and support. This is often priceless in that it brings forth the possibility that other such individuals might view us with more empathy.
Trump, is merely a product of his time and political environment. He didn’t necessarily create the mind fuck we exist within, but merely embodies it as the idol which was erected to represent it, personified, like Arthur Fleck’s rise to the top of chaotic anarchy in Joker.
Don’t get caught up in the inflammatory convoluted minutia. Stop feeding the leaching anarchist trolls. Don’t give the coveted attention to the extremists, the loudest or the most emotional. Be specific in what you stand behind so that it can be represented meaningfully and resiliently, and also amended accordingly when new information is fittingly exhibited. This is the only way back to reason from the depths of delirium!