Combat and Competition and Hope in Age of Universal Electronic Social Media (Thesis)

[Due to a sacroiliac injury and siatic nerve pain it has been several weeks since I've had good REM sleep.  This has made it difficult for me to concentrate and finish longer blogs, and I've turned to shorter statements via Twitter and news content.  Got some different nerve meds and had a long vivid dream last night.  Woke up with these thoughts, which I want to record in over 280 characters]

Universal Electronic Social Media [notification beeps on Facebook comments, or prolonged internet time on Reddit, etc] has created an impression of increasing conflict.  A lot of pundits are concluding that the internet is becoming more hostile, people less reserved or nuanced in their commentary -- or withdrawing altogether, or reserving comment for tighter social circles with less conflict (but also less exposure to genuine dialectic disagreement).

If you have watched any good Nature documentaries on Chimpanzee behavior, you know that interaction and conflict between groups of chimps is normally very loud and violent.  The alpha male chimps (and some females as well, I think) react violently, observers believe due to threats to perceived territory or to protect their young, and their fertile females.  Fight or flight oversimplifies, but it's definitely a part of the mix going on.

So it occurs to me this morning -

1) We "perceive" proximity due to UESM (Universal Electronic Social Media).  Noises and opinions that used to be very rare in our church, village, or other social circle, are now constantly in earshot.
Imagine how a group of chimps behavior would be altered if you placed speakers in the trees, and they constantly heard other competing chimps as if they were very close by.

2) One's position or performance in a verbal or chimp conflict is not just to impress the rival chimp, but also leads to increased social status in one's homegroup. Males fighting isn't just about subjugating the other male, it is creating a virile and attractive stature among females or younger male would-be challengers in ones home group.

3) So in UESM, things I perceive as "rude" or unnecessarily spiteful, comments in response to my writing or opinions or tweets, doesn't actually need to be thought out or convincing to me in any way. The belligerent commenter may be performing for their own actual - or electronic - social "followers".  If a majority of my colleagues have a bias towards A (policy, team, locality, party, etc), and I leave a shocking comment in the face of anonymous UESM rival of B (policy, position, argument, team, locality, etc), I may have no intention at all of persuading anyone towards my position. I may simply be demonstrating my deep loyalty, and therefore increasing my value, to my Homegroup.

4) The lack of importance of actual argument, reason, or persuasion to a social homegroup is minimal.  I see a lot of "likes" and approbation of pretty dumb mean commentaries, I presume by "followers".  A dumb chimp in group A just sees a teammate chase away chimp from B, and feels gratitude or increased safety, reduced "fight or flight" chemicals. It doesn't matter what was said by the dominant chimp.  He may be an asshold dominant silverback. but he's OUR asshold dominant silverback.  Hearing about some threat through UESM stirs that "loyalty". » #HurricaneSandy Highs and Lows: All the ...

5) I would distinguish between (4) and social leaders who actually do have a reasoned position that they believe in (apparently genuinely) as well.  These people have their "monkey brain" followers, for sure, but they also have moderately sophisticated followers who do follow and appreciate the (familiar or fresh) argument. This has been labelled "tribalism" in the press.  Or maybe they add humor and get a laugh reward while making the comment. and appeal as a more sophisticated thought leader. But note, I'm still referring more to Homegroup and "followers" than I am to their persuasion and appeal to nonpartisans or open minds.  Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Morning Joe and Mika, and certain politicians of terrible universally-heard sounds (POTUS) are clearly followed both by monkey-brains and by people hungry for more sophisticated opinion reinforcement.

6) UESM allows people to sip or dip into the dopamine or relief from sounds of unfamiliar and unwelcome pressure and opinion by getting instant notification.  Your asshold dominant silverback roared, got likes and laughter.  You consider yourself in that homegroup.  You get a feeling of relief, pressure, and reinforcement of you cognitive bias.  Note that your opinion may be altruistic - you hate racism.  So you "like" Black Lives Matter for all the right reasons. You may still find yourself following shared opinions that you don't quite understand.  And you certainly create risk in your own group of anti-racist followers if you say "Hey, I disagree with the way you are representing our opinion, I share your opinion but think the meme or argument you express is less sophisticated, or contains a fallacy".  That may be good dialectic that strengthens your team.  It could increase the appeal of your Homegroup to new recruits.  But you are likely to sew discomfort in a homegroup that is following this particular "narrative".  So you get fewer "likes" from your numerous followers, and actually get pushback from followers who prefer harmony in the choir.

"As a victim of [chimp represented and preferring POTUS], I don't like to hear something that signals lack of resistance to the POTUS silverback my assailant or threat likes and follows".  

7) Validation is social currency.  As Capialdi noted, the word "because" will generate more agreement in a sentence (I don't know whether Capialdi ever used Dr. Wm Stephenson's Q-Method, but it sounds truthy that statements with the word "because" would get more agreement).  So the italics statement above validates the opinion of the "harmony among followers" seeker, and puts the teammate who questioned the fallacy into an awkward position.  You are either for the victim (us), or against her/him.

8) What is extremely valuable about UESM is the imagery in memes.  The image can convey validation while delivering a raw monkey-brainstem message.  Florida high schoolers march in favor of greater gun control. I have followers who I think feel skeptical or threatened by the gun control argument.  So I tweet a meme that shows heroic soldiers on D-Day with guns, and associatew images of veterans with my pro-NRA argument.  No one has polled war veterans on the subject to my knowledge, but I know that at least among DRAFTEE war (Vietnam, World War) Veterans, that they are just as likely to be from blue states as red states (there are no doubt weathy and connected people who dodged or got deferments in greater proportion, but I don't think there's much evidence that was related to anything but wealth and access to privilege).

New insights into REM sleep crack an enduring mystery
How many monkey brain commenters are affected by sleep disorders?

Having made a solid point, I will stop here.  I can't really sort out how the dream helped, but it involved impressing people in one social group to get permission to be "voted onto" some safer position (it was a building or geography, or maybe a professional ball team, but the word "lifeboat" fits).  When I didn't persuade myself into that fraternity or group, I would end up in another yard, geography, with a different set of people, and then had to increase my "validation" or tribal currency to advance or be kept in THAT group.  And that second group had a completely different set of concerns and priorities.  I found myself stressing my commonalities with that goup, validating why I belonged with them, shared their opinion "because" something.  But in my dream, I became conscious that among people excluded from THIS homegroup, I would have to stress some different thing we had in common.

I don't know whether I would describe my evolving statements (not necessarily belief system) in each group.  But they were not "lies". I would be emphasizing a belief I hold which was more likely to be "liked".

My suspicion is that russia-bots and ISIS an other groups have ways of listening for people who have recently failed or fallen or been chased away by asshold Silverback, or not allowed into some fraternity, or been sexually rebuffed.  Those people will be more "ready" to convert to a new twist in logic as a price for being welcomed.

UESM creates a greater sense of access and meme-ish attraction to the bad guy honeypots.  But I find myself generally optimistic, because of what I'll call the Hans Rosling Effect.  I really know how bad it used to be poor, how bad it used to be female, how bad it used to be a minority, how bad it used to be scorned by a dictator or king, how unlikely it was to get an education, or be vaccinated, or be well nourished.  Those are the places - usually rural - that were first to have communist revolutions.  There were more angry young strong people, displaced people, to recruit from in Cambodia or early 1900s Russia or China.  Easier to assemble oh-well-what-the-hell followers. 

What Israel needs more than anything is the exact same thing that African democracies threatened by Boka Haram need.  They need people to feel they are doing better, that they are better off than they were last year, or 5 years ago.  They need people to feel hopeful.

When powerful countries feel safe and good, they have less internal threat to revolution or recruitment by hostile parties.  Some politicians call that HOPE.  That is a better long term strategy than appealing to people who follow or applaud loud assholds.  Africa and the Mideast need the tiger economy hopefulness that has brought unprecedented peace in Asia.  You can appeal to that just as well with "likes" of progress and safety and relative hopefulness as you can with tree-speakers blasting imagined threats to rally a big orange asshold.

I wonder if POTUS has a sleep disorder.

No comments: