social media vs. the social fabric: pick one
For people who find mainstream politics, usually covered in woke detritus, repulsive, there is a certain temptation to take on the precise inverse version of the thing that most offends you in order to fight it. Don’t like those banshee Democrats whose entire identity is based on the fake news they mined on their side of the internet? Reflexively, the impulse to fight back on the existing terms bubbles up: beat them at their own game! We are better posters! We have better information! We have better arguments! So we simply must take to that comments section and ATTACK! This is how we win!
While those sentiments about the superiority of conservative thought might be gratifying, this perpetually embattled position is one of a loser. We all remember what William F. Buckley said about standing athwart history yelling, “STOP!” It was a pithy turn of phrase that nonetheless never stopped leftists from winning everything, including the publication that Buckley himself ordained as the preeminent conservative magazine for all time. So much for that.
Despite every, uh, elaborate elocution, despite the oh-so intellectual arguments, dahhhling, why do conservatives keep losing? Why don’t they appeal to curious young people who have been saturated in The Other Stuff for their whole lives; where has youthful rebellion gone? Well, if all conservatives can do is define themselves in opposition to the status quo, their positive is fundamentally negative–and I mean that literally. It is negating of a principle that stands regardless of the negation; it is the negative space in a painting, simply adding dimension to the existing shapes. We need our own paintings.
Unless you are some particularly gifted poster with the proven capacity to create viral and genuinely funny memes, to fight the battle is to lose the battle. In an information war, people are rarely convinced by direct conflict. In other words: you aren’t going to make your feminist aunt into a conservative by making a snarky comment on her Facebook status.
It’s something I have to remind myself of as a consummate Twitter addict. So, speaking of New Year’s Resolutions: there’s mine. The app is now deleted from my phone. And I’m telling myself: Stop fighting the land war in Asia. Stop fighting the spiritual battle in the Ego Trap. Instead: BUILD. Be, in real life. Take over the LOCAL school board. Start your OWN Boy/Girl Scouts. If social media is to be used, allow it to be explicitly productive: the way that we plan real-life events. It should be the way that we find other people to know, love, and cherish, not political pawns to red team/blue team and disdain.
In this spirit, I wanted to share a few helpful videos and creators that specialize in the sort of digital detox and real-life mental readiness that can help us overcome Internet Brain and start winning on our own terms. As the internet Cthulhu gobbles increasingly much of our time, energy, and social capital, perverting and subverting each facet of life as he moves, these creators show us how to break free–and why it matters.
1. Father Chad Ripperger (Exorcist) on the similarities between communist politics, cancel culture, and demonic psychology:
2. Matt Fradd, in a Summa Theologica style argument for deleting Twitter, and how it gets in the way of life. “The more social media forces us to truncate the message, the more problematic it is:”
3. One thing that comes up when you start down these sorts of “digital detox” rabbit holes is dopamine: the hormone that lies at the heart of addiction. No pun intended. Andrew Huberman, who reminds me of Jocko Willink but also happens to be a professor of neurobiology at Stanford, runs a podcast on wellness from a scientific perspective. He has an episode that is a good primer on why managing screen time matters for our health: