Category Archives: ideas

Facebook – The New Opiate for the Masses That’s Making You Sick.

A week ago I announced I’d be leaving Facebook for a month to see how things changed in my life. This was after I did some research on how Facebook algorithms transform the way you behave online. Jaron Lanier’s ‘Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now’ inspired me to take the plunge. In his book, Lanier outlines that algorithms used on these platforms are constantly analysing your online behaviours, processing this information, and adapting your feed of information to maximise your engagement. Constantly evolving, these data-grabbing parasites find new ways to seize your attention and keep you locked in. It really works! And it’s especially effective against those of us who are compromised by our real life experiences. Let me illustrate by sharing a little of my own journey with the platform.

My Experience with Internet Addiction

Nearing a year prior to my decision to leave, Facebook had taken over my life. I was so invested in the platform that I spent most of my day getting attention, good and bad alike, as a mini kick to supplement my pathetic natural dopamine reserves. Thank you, brain, you’re so good to me. During this time, several significant life events had happened to me that knocked me off my feet. I had slipped a disk in the second year  of my degree which was causing a huge amount of pain and numbness in my legs. All the while I was working part time, hiding the fact from my boss and managing dicey personal relationships. I was cutting more and more real people out of my life as I slowly disconnected from reality. I had panic attacks, dissociation, health anxiety, and serious depression. I wanted to die, but I was also terrified of the idea of death. An unpleasant oscillation of negative emotions gripped me every day. As my real life started to implode inwards, my activities became deeply withdrawn and passive. I started to construct an alternative online persona, a confident, happy, egotistical version of myself that said whatever was on his mind. In short, a charming asshole. The feeling of having lost my voice in the real world translated to a booming, but meaningless online presence. I was clinging to control in the only corner of my life that I believed I had any left.

Little did I know at that time, Facebook, my little haven of safety, fantasy and control, was actually taking advantage of my vulnerability to keep me trapped in a cycle of depression, gasping for a breath of attention, but starved of real human connection. And these algorithms are designed to keep a person’s attention at the expense of the vulnerable. They learn the best ways to keep you online, and those most susceptible to addiction suffer the worst. How can we allow a platform that seems so innocuous and practically useful to systematically prey on the most compromised individuals in society? It’s simple, people just don’t know yet, and they really need to wake up from the stupor. Facebook has the chloroformed cloth to our face, and we’ve been under for long enough for us to forget who kidnapped us.

Would You Let an Organisation Build a Palace of Opiates in the Midst of Deprivation?

Do you know why a heroin addict takes heroin, even at the expense of his health, both physical and mental? He’s not lazy or a cockroach, he’s escaping his reality, and people who experience internet addiction on platforms like Facebook are doing the same. Groups and pages like ‘BPD meme Queen’ (BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder, a serious personality disorder that requires real world intervention) with over 120k likes, actively invites mental illness onto the platform, trapping more and more vulnerable people in the molasses of hollow experience.  Glorifying mental illness in the shape of memes and signposting it on Facebook is not healthy, yet it’s absolutely allowed on the platform.  I ask you, would you allow an organisation to hand out free opiates to vulnerable, struggling people who need help figuring out their reality? Would you let a giant corporation build a gleaming white tower in the centre of the most deprived area of a city, offering out free syringes for the people’s unbridled attention? I don’t think so. Yet we happily turn on our computers and let algorithms fuck with us all day long. Algorithms which become exponentially more effective, the more unwell we are.

The reality is this, you don’t need Facebook to stay in touch with people. Sure, it might be easier to use social media, it has all of your information in one place and it’s keeping it warm for you, but you do have a phone, you have messenger services, you can still send a text and ring people, even write letters (yes, we should do more of that especially). If we don’t put pressure on the networks to change, we’ll continue to experience all of these issues going forward. Facebook is making ill people worse over time, and in the best case, keeping people chronically not better.

Mark Zuckerberg – Building a Disease Free World on the Bodies of the Addicted

Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that, along with his partner Priscilla Chan, he would be donating 99% of Facebook’s shares to eradicate all human disease, founding the Chan Zuckerberg initiative in 2015. A lofty goal, but more importantly, one at odds with the very product used to fund this research. Addiction is a chronic brain disorder. It’s partly genetic, partly environmental, but according to the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a human disease. Many will argue that there are more serious and debilitating disorders, but that’s another debate and beyond this article. In its own right, addiction is a serious, debilitating brain disease that is being actively abused by Facebook’s algorithms, monitoring user behaviour, analysing the most visceral impulses of addiction, and using them against its users.

Addiction disconnects. Not only does Facebook help us unplug from reality, it does it under the guise of connecting the world. Why is this a problem? Facebook is funding its research against human disease with a technology that makes a serious human disease worse in the population. The very system that sells itself as making the world more social, more connected, is actually doing the opposite. Now, there are smarter people than me working at Facebook, of that I’m sure. Moreover, these people understand the technologies inside and out. So, given that the odds of Facebook engineers knowing everything I do and more, and yet not even advertising to the public better methods of networking, methods that are less manipulative and damaging to vulnerable people and the social fabric of society at large, what is the gig? Why isn’t this big news? Why isn’t this issue even on the radar at all? One can only imagine they have their very good, very legitimate reasons.

I’m sure.

Students! You are Prime Targets for Manipulation!

At this point many of you are probably wondering ‘what has this got to do with me? I’m not addicted. I’m just a student.’. And it’s a perfectly acceptable question to ask, but here’s the thing: As a student, you’re extremely vulnerable to Facebook’s manipulation. Students deal with higher levels of mental illness, depression and social anxiety, those being some of the most debilitating aspects for our social group. More than this, students are trying desperately to form social connections, especially when they first start out at university. Facebook and other social media platforms thrive on the insecurity of students trying to make their way on the social scene. We’re also chronically bored. Bored people find themselves spending inordinate amounts of time on these platforms because there’s nothing better to do. Procrastination, too, adds to student stress and burnout. Perhaps if we weren’t constantly having our essence sucked by horny virtual-dementor-algorithms, we’d have time to get some of our work done (I’m sure the least popular argument on this list). All of these factors make students prime targets for algorithms which want to keep you trapped in Zuckerberg’s Wonderland for as long as possible.

I’m not saying go cold turkey like I did but think very carefully about how you use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Communication, after all, is a two-way street. When we look out of the window, the things on the other side look back. The real question when using social media is who’s using who?

This article is also available at Slain Media.

Write a letter, start a revolution.

Dear reader,

I was talking with a friend I met through a poetry group on Facebook the other day. I was deciding to leave the platform and, as always, he had a novel suggestion. I had asked for his details because I wanted to stay in touch with people off the platform. If you look at my previous post Facebook, what have you done to us?, I decided to leave Facebook for various reasons, ethical, behavioural and psychological. His idea was this: ‘Let’s write a letter to each other’.

I thought to myself how peculiar that was and was meditating on the idea a bit. Why have we stopped writing letters? Well, the clear answer is that the internet does it faster. Sure, the internet has revolutionised communication but is that a good thing?

We used to take time to think and reflect on all the amazing things that happen to us in the weeks and months. Carefully, we’d curate a picture of our lives that showed all the most meaningful experiences we’d had lately in the two-fold process of consolidating and processing it for ourselves, and sharing with others.

I thought about what it would be like to receive a letter that was not about doctors appointments or bills, written in an individual font, addressed to me, the person, not me, the body, number or consumer. I came to the conclusion that writing letters to close ones is probably the most counter cultural, revolutionary thing young people can do in an age saturated by technology, and so coked up on its own sophistication, it’s losing any meaning or value it might once have had.

So here’s my challenge to you. Write three letters this month. Really think about your life and what has happened. Share it with those you care about but don’t see often enough. Tell me in the comments below that you posted it and that you’re taking up this counter revolution against technology. Heck, if you want, post a selfie with your letters! It’s nice to get feedback that we’re making changes! We need to slow down and think at the speed of a letter.

Share this article with friends and family. We’re re-writing the future, one hand-written letter at a time.

Yours sincerely,

Julian

Contact us if you have ideas or would like to share your thoughts on society.

Facebook, what have you done to us?

Facebook has had a good, long life. It started out as a humble networking site on the campus where Mark Zuckerberg studied at Harvard, growing into the largest social media platform today. Humble beginnings perhaps, but where are we now?

Mark Zuckerberg is worth $55 billion, owns snapchat, whatsapp, instagram and various other platforms and technologies. His only remaining competition in the social media realm is Twitter, and it’s not clear how long that will remain the case.

Zuckerberg, having crowded out and monopolised on social networks, is now manipulating and controlling the information we see and the words we can use. According to Jason Lanier, a tech guru from Silicon Valley, social media platforms, by and large, harbour negative biases towards news and content. This means that the worst people and stories rise to the top more quickly than positive content. Not only this, but Facebook, more than ever, has the ability to shut down speech. Reporting content without context is rife and often vindictive. Radicalism, too, hides in shelters behind private groups where users gather to manifest their political malcontent and to be heard by those who will agree with them. Leaving them unchecked often encourages extremism over time.

On an individual and psychological level, Facebook is addictive. It gives you a quick neuro-chemical boost every time you get a like, share, or comment, and reinforces your compulsion to check, to revisit, to waste more of your time than you could ever want to waste. I want to live a life filled with books, music, people, creative design and purpose, none of which the platform can give me, all of which it can take.

Follow MI for an update in a month as to what has changed. Was it worth it to leave? How did my life improve? Can you benefit from taking a leap into the unknown which was once known to us all? Are we the same without social media? If we’re different, how and by how much?

Zuckerberg, I’m going to find out just what you’ve done to us, and how badly we need to reshape our environment outside of your image.

Logging out,

Millennial Intent

5 Takeaways from Kanye’s Visit to the Whitehouse

The internet roared in response to Kanye’s dinner with Trump yesterday. If you were on Twitter at the time, it felt as if the two meeting had the impact of comets colliding in space, or the shuddering vibrations of the Earth’s tectonic plates. Surprising really, considering the placid, amicable discussion the two had together, never really feeling heated, never having the essence of catastrophe that so many highlighted online.

This was a frank discussion about beliefs, values and political standpoints between two happy, consenting adults. Sure, Kanye runs away with himself at times, probably more to do with nerves and excitement at the opportunity to speak to someone he admires more intimately. Even so, though his speech is sometimes rapid and disorganised, there’s a degree of truth in some of the things he says, and a great deal of hypocrisy from the liberal media in response to his genuine comments.

tuckeron kanye

Tucker sees some wisdom in Kanye’s enthusiastic discussion.

So, let’s look at the 5 main takeaways from the #kanyetrump dinner:

1. Swearing is not the worst thing that’s happened in the Oval office.

So, let’s be real about this, a little swearing is probably the least awful thing that’s happened in the White House. As Ben Shapiro was quick to point out in a twitter response to Jim Acosta who himself tweeted ‘Kanye just said ‘motherf***er’ in the Oval Office. Per WH pool.’, Shapiro responds: ‘And Clinton had Oral Sex in there. So if we’re going to talk about degrading the location…’. And he’s got a point. A few expletives aimed at no one in particular are, by histories standards, nothing to write home about.

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Ben Shapiro reminds people, a couple of swears is not the worst thing to happen in the Oval Office.

2. Kanye is looking for a role model, something we are sorely lacking.

Kanye launched into a discussion about the MAGA hat he wore, and how it made him feel during the campaign for Donald Trump’s presidency. With bright eyes, he exclaims ‘it made me feel like superman!’ and comments that while Hilary’s campaign ‘I’m with Her’ was fine, it didn’t make him feel the same way that Trump’s campaign did. ‘As a guy that didn’t get to see my dad all the time’, Kanye explains, Trump’s campaign made him feel ‘like a guy that could play catch with his son.’. And he’s right. People are screaming for good role models, arguably men more so than any other demographic. Many rallied on this point to show their support.

3. Using someone’s mental health as a way to shut them up is not Democratic.

It’s stunning that a day after #WorldMentalHealthDay happened and with the hashtag still trending on Twitter, CNN news anchors and other left-wing media outlets immediately attacked Kanye on grounds of insanity. A white female news anchor launched into an attack on the soundness of Kanye’s mind, stating ‘I think you had there a man who’s clearly not OK and a president who’s willing to exploit that’, further dragging Trump into the firing line to make him out as some monster manipulator of the mentally ill. She then goes onto describe the dinner as a ‘circus’, having just a sentence ago voiced outrage at the lack of address of mental health issues and race relations between Kanye and Trump. Make up your mind CNN. Are you advocates for mental health or are you part of the problem?

mentalhealthhypocrisy

Just a day after #MentalHealthAwarenessDay, CNN discredits Kanye by claiming he’s ‘clearly not OK’ and describes the dinner as a ‘circus’.

4. White anchors speaking on behalf of black people seems a little racist, doesn’t it?

Many were quick to point out that a large proportion of reports in the liberal media were from white anchors speaking for black people and using racial outrage as a weapon to discredit both Kanye and Trump. Others were quick to point out that even where there were black speakers on the topic of Kanye and Trump, black people were only allowed a viewpoint if it was strictly in line with the interests of the Democratic party.

twowhitepeople

A twitter user points out the hypocrisy of white anchors discussing the opinions of Kanye, a black man.

 

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Can you even have a right-wing view and be black? CNN says ‘no’.

5. Using someone’s dead mother as a smear doesn’t seem all that professional.

Don Lemon, speaking for CNN, later commented that ‘Kanye’s mother is rolling over in her grave’ at the opinions and views of her son. That’s a bitter Lemon indeed. Is this a game of limbo? How low can you go CNN?

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Don Lemon’s comments about Kanye’s dead mother used as smear against political opinion.

Is Being Honest a Form of Brain Damage?

Recently I watched an interview between Katie Hopkins, controversial columnist and journalist from the UK talk about her book ‘Rude’, with interviewers Paul Ross and Carole Malone of Talk Radio. In the interview, Hopkins was asked very little about her book, other than to comment that it was, in fact, ‘rude’, as far as Ross was concerned. Then, as usual, the two began the dogmatic drudgery of common media interview technique, to zone in on this point, asking why Hopkins is so rude all the time, all the while giving her less than no time to respond before cutting into her reply. ‘Read the book!’, she says, and she’s right, it exists to address the ‘why’ of that question so commonly raised in debates. And Hopkins makes as much of the milliseconds she gets to reply to make this point. A testament to her ability to cut through the bullshit and make herself heard. If you aren’t given the platform you thought, find the shortest way to make your point, a skill that Hopkins has mastered completely.

If the manner of the interview technique wasn’t enough to wind you up (even Hopkins was showing signs of irritation with Ross), the pair, primarily Malone, sidled into talking about Hopkins’ frank discussion about her past experiences with seizures and brain surgery. This was handled with all the delicacy of a lobotomy and none of the delicacy of the modern brain surgeon, something TalkRadio, the BBC and other left-leaning media outlets could do with ruminating on, not that someone as resilient and rambunctious as Hopkins was affected mind you. With an alarmingly quick preamble through Hopkins’ experiences, Malone launches into a question which is interesting and deserves a deeper discussion: ‘do you think that tumour, in some way contributed to your outspokenness?’, she asks Hopkins, which Ross interjects to clarify, assuming she means as a result of the struggle which Hopkins faced every day to go to work while suffering seizures. Malone replies ‘not even that’, wondering instead if the tumour ‘physically’ had ‘some kind of impact’ on Hopkins’ brain. Essentially, Malone is suggesting that Katie Hopkins is loud, brave, honest and empowered because a tumour ate away at the parts of her brain which should make her meek, gentle, kind and passive. She effectively asks the question ‘does brain damage maketh-the woman?’.

And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen news of the pathology of the right-wing. Several articles and videos have been calling for Donald Trump to step down over beliefs that his mental health is unsound. On the website ‘Real Clear Politics’ (already a worrying overemphasis of transparency by title), an article with a video of an interview with Psychiatrist Dr John Gartner suggests that Trump exhibits ‘malignant narcissism’, consisting of ‘narcissism’, ‘paranoia’, playing the ‘victim’ and ‘demonization of the opposition’.

One might think to themselves that nearly any successful politician (or indeed successful anybody) falls under these personality traits. Narcissism drives success, especially in the public eye. Being able to make use of the oppositions faults and find ways to deflect blame are tantamount to good business acumen. A healthy dose of paranoia keeps someone on their toes against threats to one’s position, such as a political coup from inside your own party, or character assassinations from without. It’s a spectrum, and when you’re just a little narcissistic, it’s not always a bad thing. Vital nuance that Gartner fails to factor into the discussion.

The left has, for a long time now, taken a protectionist stance on mental health. If you’re unwell, mentally, you should have treatment, with respect and dignity, and with the belief that you should have a happy, functional life. And yet, if you’re on the right and suspected of mental illness, how are you treated? As if a scourge to erase. Protectionist only so far as it suits personal political interests it seems. Over and above all of this, Gartner expresses a lack of professionalism as he equates those with pathological narcissism (a real psychiatric disorder) to ‘the essence of evil’. Should we be listening to the advice of Psychiatrists who are prepared to ascribe moral values to the people they treat?

So let’s think about this as a whole. If brain trauma can make us better speakers, less inhibited and more honest, and the vast majority of people gravitate towards people who speak frankly and with gravitas, then what does that say about ‘normal’ people? If the people who have normal brain function agree with Hopkins, but would never admit it themselves, what does this say about the normal human brain? Is a ‘healthy’ brain a lying brain? Now, before we explore that point, let me put a few things straight. First, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘normal’ brain. Second, I am not for one minute suggesting that people with brain damage are ‘superior beings’ with a paranormal propensity for parcelling truth. This is an exploration of what Malone’s statement says about her views and also what a view like that might mean for our society. What does it mean for people with brazen views? What does it mean for people who disagree with Hopkins’ methods? And above all, why is a core virtue such as truth now on the verge of being (in the eyes of some) a pathological, even medical disease?

Let’s play devil’s advocate here, humouring Malone’s position for a toasty minute. So what are the implications for Hopkins’ successes being down to nothing more than the excision of a part of her brain? Well, for one, it erases a life of experience which really adds up to show us plainly why Hopkins does what she does. Living with seizures, finding out that a tumour is eating away at your brain. Being told that you have a life expectancy of two years if you don’t have risky brain surgery. Having to wake up every day in pain, knowing, inevitably, that the force of your bodies spasms will almost certainly dislocate your shoulders each night. These are the experiences that make a person strong through pain, and direct, because life really might be over sooner rather than later. And who knows about this? Virtually nobody unless they read her book (who reads books these days anyway?) because she doesn’t talk about it. The left is obsessed with providing a platform for victims and here an individual, having lived a harder life than most, has never overtly spoken about personal hardship in the public sphere. When you know it, everything makes sense. This is someone who values the truth because life is too short to lie, a bitter pill in itself, but one we all need to hear.

Real, human experience aside, where’s the consistency in an argument like this? Here we’re implying that somehow, having a mental illness or brain damage makes you less trustworthy, less able to convey an opinion of clout than someone who doesn’t have these things. But again, we see from the left, a malaise of mashed principles. Is it not ableist to suggest people with mental illness or brain damage cannot be taken seriously? The kind of implicated thinking behind Malone’s question seems to smack of hypocrisy. Furthermore, if we discredit a person’s opinion, their voice, based on the fact that they have a neurological disorder or mental illness (or both), what do we leave them with? It’s anti-feminist, racist, classist, ableist and sexist because it takes away the right of a person’s voice by discrediting it on the basis of something they cannot change. It is a perfect contradiction in terms and the left wing make it unabashedly.

And why is it that we now live in a culture that is on the verge of using appeals to insanity or brain damage in order to discredit people who are honest about what they believe? Is telling the truth a disorder? Is the lie natural and normal in human interaction? Perhaps it is, for now. But should it be? There is a sense that people like to hear the truth, even if they’re not prepared to say it themselves, and perhaps its time for as many of us as possible to bridge the gap between what we think and what we say. As for me, if it means that telling the truth is about the same as having a brain tumour, or brain trauma, then take me to the hospital. I’ll be honest Doc, all the way to the operating room.

Please follow Millennial Intent for more ideas on liberty, freedom of speech, and the direction of political discussion in society. Leave us a comment if you loved this article, we love speaking to you about your ideas. Have a great day and use your voice, you deserve to be heard.