Links 15.12.2016: Mindfucking, Facebook is the World and the Rythm of Clicks

Buzzfeed News: This Is What Happens When Millions Of People Suddenly Get The Internet: „I will use Facebook. I have to … that is the world.“

Motherboard: Black Lives Matter Website Saw Over 100 DDoS Attacks in Seven Months: According to a new report published Wednesday, the Black Lives Matter website has seen more than a hundred separate Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks launched against its website over just seven months this year, most coming from a loose-knit group of cyber activists who have insisted that the group denounce “anti-white racism.”

Fair points: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Protests: Why We Should Listen to Trans Activists Criticizing The Milestone Film, also, this comment: „I’m a transmasculine Reed student who attended this protest. I assume Jack got his account of the protest from Kimberly, who has certainly not told him a full or accurate story.“

CTheory: Rythm of the Clicks: „Today we are given Trump, simulator of rhythm, master of the empty beat, destroyer of time. Clicking on that is something even beyond sad.“

Ich bezeichne die AfD ja gerne als Nationalkapitalisten und für Trump gilt dasselbe: CTheory: Stop Calling Trump a Fascist!: „We miss the newness of what Trump represents if we use categories from the 1930s to describe what we are seeing now in 2016. We must begin by naming this new phenomenon to see it for what it is. […] Trump offers to run the country like a business and his sole qualification for President is his self-trumpeted business acumen, his ability to cut a deal, make a buck, and watch the bottom line. So surely, a businessman who promises to substitute politics with business, to rebrand the state into an enterprise, and transform the political subject citizen into a consumer, and to deploy the market as the only adjudicator of the “truth” of his administration, a businessman who runs on the platform of ending political life itself, cannot properly be represented by the political authority symbolized by the fasces.“

Initialized(): Fascism and The Historical Irony of Facebook’s “Fake News” Problem – Interview with Fred Turner (From Counterculture to Cyberculture):

One of the things we see with Trump and the Twitter-sphere is that when new technologies come on the scene, they don’t replace old technologies. They layer onto older technologies.

Twitter and its liberating potential is already mass mediated. It’s already commercial. When Donald tweets, he isn’t just tweeting to a general populace. He’s generating stories for CBS and NBC, and for that matter, Facebook. He’s generating stories that create an entire media sphere on their own. That is the source of his power. He is using the old fascist charisma, but he’s doing it in a media environment in which the social and the commercial, the individual and the mass, are already completely entwined.

Q: What could or should be done about fake news?

I think “fake news’ is a really important phenomenon. It’s rumor, and one of the things social media do best is accelerate rumors. Social media radically disable fact checking. They make it easy for people to make up stories that can travel at the speed of light. Social media also show that the original idea that the Internet could be a neutral dissemination medium for news was just a fantasy.

I’m not at all sure how firms should manage the new situation, let alone how the state should intervene. “Fake news” is only part of the problem. The real problem is actually more of a structural problem. Media firms in lots of different subsets need to make money on advertising. When you are dependent on advertising, controversy is good. Truth ceases to matter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. What matters is that it gets a lot of attention.

Ribbonfarm: The Strategy of (Subversive) Conflict

s-l500“Mindfucking” is an example of reflexive control on the extreme end of the spectrum of harm. Philosopher Colin McGinn has written a book about mindfucking and defines mindfucking as a kind of deliberate unbalancing of the target’s psychological equilibrium. […]

the contemporary manipulator attempts to manage or manufacture large-scale social processes. These processes play out in highly connected information-age societies that are manipulatable through various forms of “political technology.” The manipulator thus indirectly seeds/manipulates information and features of the environment such that large groups of people simultaneously yet semi-independently act, react, and interact in a way that a desired macrobehavior emerges from low-level microbehavior. So are we fated to be manipulated? Can we avoid being fucked with? […]

The very structure of our media culture, for example, facilitates manipulation via the stirring-up of online flamewars. This gives the manipulator a potent mechanism for achieving her aims, because all it takes for someone to unwittingly participate in the operation is an like, tweet, or share. What can we do? Perhaps the best place to start is to think about how to stop a very particular type of tactic used to further undermine and divide:

Express an opinion that engenders either fanatical support from those who identify [with it] or rabid opposition from those who do not. Wait for media – social or traditional – to amplify the vitriol and divisiveness. One group yells; the other group yells back. Everyone slings insults. It’s a feedback loop. At the end of each episode, people forget the intellectual basis for their arguments – only group identity remains as a salient factor.

The power of this approach is that the manipulator exploits pre-existing social scripts and simply combines them together such that they yield macrobehavior consistent with the manipulator’s plan. Any solutions will likely be ones that dilute, complicate, starve, or otherwise thwart the attempt to spark scripted responses. In the longer term, solutions also need to interrupt or muddle the way in which group identity produces scripts. This will not be easy.

Hier das im Artikel genannte Buch von Colin McGinn: Mindfucking: A Critique of Mental Manipulation.

Being surrounded by bullshit is one thing. Having your mind fucked is quite another. The former is irritating, but the latter is violating and intrusive (unless you give your consent). If someone manipulates your thoughts and emotions, messing with your head, you naturally feel resentment: he or she has distorted your perceptions, disturbed your feelings, maybe even usurped your self. Mindfucking is a prevalent aspect of contemporary culture and the agent can range from an individual to a whole state, from personal mind games to wholesale propaganda.In "Mindfucking," Colin McGinn investigates and clarifies this phenomenon, taking in the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and modern techniques of thought control.

CTheory: Signs of Life

Americans see their chosen leaders pontificating on TV, they see some completely lifeless robotic holograms—like Hillary Clinton. They see people who are for all the world dead. In this sort of wasteland, signs of life can appear anywhere at any time on television. For example, on Reality TV, which is the most significant innovation in television since it was invented. Why is Reality TV so popular? Because the format is designed to showcase screw-ups, moments when some member of the cast goes “off script,” says something inappropriate, inadvertently reveals a scandalous secret, or fights another cast member. These are all events, and as Cavell observes, television is intended to monitor them because they provide evidence of life (as if we are only visiting planet Earth from a distant galaxy). […]

Trump understands all of this. He understands that Americans feel Death all around them—inside the home, down the street, in the bad part of town, in the sky and in our streams and forests, and of course in Washington, D.C., where one thoughtless moment in the life of the President will produce a nuclear holocaust. So Trump gives Americans what they need and that is signs of life.

With Trump, signs of life are conveyed by any means at hand, including mocking disabled people, calling Mexicans rapists and drug traffickers, insulting minorities, inciting fights at rallies, and so on. These outrageous moments provide proof of our existence, like a twenty-first century version of Descartes’ cogito argument in the “Third Meditation. Whereas his political rivals embody death-in-life, Trump provides evidence that both he and the viewer are actually still alive. And I can still connect with—overcome my terror and isolation—someone who is actually alive.

This interpretation suggests that we have already evolved far beyond “left vs. right” politics, ideologies and ideas—never that powerful in any event without being backed up by a lethal arsenal—and are collectively struggling with questions that are literally and figuratively matters of life and death. Trump’s insights into America’s psyche go far beyond those of our so-called intellectual class, especially those who churn out books and appear on television trying and failing to convince ordinary Americans that credentials and experience outweigh repeated failure and that expertise in various specialized areas are required to understand what is happening in the world. But most people understand that this is not true, that the Emperor has no clothes, and that’s why Trump is the President.