Yesterday Senator Ted Cruz and NBA owner Mark Cuban engaged in the kind of grifting, public sparring session that perfectly encapsulates today’s social media climate. The hero-villain dynamic, lack of context and side-stepping of any real solution is what professor Alan Levinovitz calls “processed information.” In the same way fast food restaurants figured out a perfectly addictive combination of sugar/salt/fat to pump into their burgers and fries, social media platforms have created algorithms that promote only the most divisive, enraging, and ultimately engaging content for their users.
“They consulted with people who wanted to figure out how to keep you compulsively coming back,” Levinovitz said of Twitter’s executives in episode #1504 of the Joe Rogan Experience. “They consulted with people who built slot machines to figure out what keeps people pulling the lever.”
America isn’t burning, but it is in Twitter’s interest to make you think it is.
Yesterday’s dose of catnip entailed an argument about NBA players kneeling, and the league’s relationship with China.
Personally, I take no offense to any player kneeling during the national anthem, especially in light of the recent George Floyd tragedy. Ted Cruz is a slightly-above-average politician who, like most republicans, regularly engages in fringe identity politics in order to make up ground in a culture war that the elite, identity-politics-driven left appears to be winning by a wide margin.
Of course, the identity-politics left is not actually winning the culture war, they just have Silicon Valley in their back pocket. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - once purported as platforms that would give a voice to the voiceless - have instead created megaphones for our intellectual and moral overlords to establish what is right, wrong, smart or stupid. All heretics shall be banished.
This was illustrated in today’s Twitter-controlled #boycottMLB hashtag controversy. What was purported as an anti-social justice movement - by a clearly despicable group of Trump-loving deplorables - was really a big dress-rehearsal for our morally superior overlords. As you can see in the video below, there were hardly any real people railing against MLB players kneeling, but rather a long list of posturers signaling how disgusted they’d be if that hashtag picked up any real traction.
Twitter is a fishbowl of virtue-signaling elites who help each other achieve daily moral and intellectual victories, because in that world, unlike the real world, they have the numbers advantage. “Twitter users are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated and have higher incomes than U.S. adults overall,” according to the Pew Research Center. Deplorable, working-class and less educated Americans are let into the Twitter club for the sole purpose of being used as examples for the immoral, stupid mess our overlords are tasked with cleaning up. This is Jack Dorsey's dreamworld.
This also explains why the NBA, and its commissioner Adam Silver, have been chosen as the untouchable favorites on Twitter, despite the majority of Americans viewing the NBA’s relationship with China as problematic. In the perfect, globalized economy of Twitter’s elites, geopolitical conflicts don’t exist, national borders are a nuisance impediment to the free market and quasi-slave labor in Asia is necessary to keep costs down. As long as the NBA promotes the right kind of social justice - the kind that doesn’t threaten the current economic order - and continues to carry the torch for globalization, it will remain Twitter’s golden child. The on-court product truly has nothing to do with it.
And finally, this explains why, according to the total “likes” count, Mark Cuban won yesterday’s scuffle by a generous margin.
Ted Cruz should’ve known the game was rigged against him from the start. Representing the working and middle-class majority’s concerns - whether they be players kneeling during the national anthem, or the NBA’s cozy relationship with China - is a losing proposition on an app whose sole purpose has become establishing why the working-class majority is lost.
Cuban, ever calculated, wouldn’t have participated in his scuffle with Cruz if he didn’t already know this going in.