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Super-insightful article about rage meme propagation

By Patrick follow Patrick   2020 Jul 28, 9:46pm 298 views   23 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

If you’re not on Tumblr, you might have missed the “everyone who does not reblog the issue du jour is trash” wars. For a few weeks around the height of the Ferguson discussion, people constantly called out one another for not reblogging enough Ferguson-related material, or (Heavens forbid) saying they were sick of the amount of Ferguson material they were seeing. It got so bad that various art blogs that just posted pretty paintings, or kitten picture blogs that just reblogged pictures of kittens were feeling the heat (you thought I was joking about the hate for kitten picture bloggers. I never joke.) ...

It’s the first time outside of a chain letter that I have seen our memetic overlords throw off all pretense and just go around shouting “SPREAD ME OR YOU ARE GARBAGE AND EVERYONE WILL HATE YOU.”

But it only works because it’s tapped into the most delicious food source an ecology of epistemic parasites could possibly want – controversy,


Wow, this fits perfectly with the "Silence is Violence" BLM meme. BLM is a rage meme that demands that you propagate rage or be attacked yourself for not propagating rage.

This also fits with Islam, which demands jihad to spread Islam. Even if you're Muslim, if you refuse to join the jihad, they'll kill you too.

These memes evolve to demand propagation because that is what worked to propagate them. Weaker memes not making such demands did not survive in the sea of ideas.

So maybe the solution is for people to clearly see the mechanism by which the meme is manipulating them to propagate itself.
1   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:19pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Imagine Moloch looking out over the expanse of the world, eagle-eyed for anything that can turn brother against brother and husband against wife. Finally he decides “YOU KNOW WHAT NOBODY HATES EACH OTHER ABOUT YET? BIRD-WATCHING. LET ME FIND SOME STORY THAT WILL MAKE PEOPLE HATE EACH OTHER OVER BIRD-WATCHING”. And the next day half the world’s newspaper headlines are “Has The Political Correctness Police Taken Over Bird-Watching?” and the other half are “Is Bird-Watching Racist?”. And then bird-watchers and non-bird-watchers and different sub-groups of bird-watchers hold vitriolic attacks on each other that feed back on each other in a vicious cycle for the next six months, and the whole thing ends in mutual death threats and another previously innocent activity turning into World War I style trench warfare.
2   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:22pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I may agree with the authoritarian leftists on all of their ends, however as a classic liberal, I find their means, methods and actions absolutely appalling.
3   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:25pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Society seems to delight in tearing itself apart when the opposite is needed. The media doesn’t help, with the irresponsible way it grinds at the sore spots of a wounded world.
4   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:33pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

This was excellent, and very well written. I’ve been mulling these ideas around in my coconut for about 40 of my 55 years, and I’m grateful to see them in print, that others actually give a damn about the damage being done.

Human beings are hard wired for negativity, aka survival, have been for millennia, and it is an easy target for the media and marketing to exploit. It has always been in the interests of power that Moloch has kept us divided from the solutions to all the world’s ills. The powers that be use the divide and conquer concept to keep humanity weak, and it works.

I’ve always marveled at how easy it is to troll and flame and quickly distill anger in social media, and the individual human doesn’t stand a chance against the tirade of negativity that will wash over you if your thoughts and opinions are different. So I stay out of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblir etc. because of it.
5   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:37pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

William Burroughs got in ahead of you, I’m afraid. Back in 1964 he described the technique used by the interstellar Nova Mob to destabilize peaceful societies: pick the most extreme statements by a member of one political side and play them to the most extreme members of the opposition, then play their most extreme reactions back to the original group, and so on and so on until the population is at war with itself.


Chinese Communist Party probably using this technique right now with BLM in the US
6   just_adhom_preaching   ignore (4)   2020 Jul 28, 10:44pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I used FB a bit the first year, much less the next few, nearly zero now except for mostly looking at my baby sis's posts. (niece and nephew updates)

Never signed up for twit, fumblr, among others. Feeling I made the right decision these days.

Patnet though that's awesome!
7   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:46pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

just_adhom_preaching says
Patnet though that's awesome!


Lol and thanks, I worry I'm part of the problem though, however convinced I may be that I'm right. I need to find a way around the memes using us all to replicate themselves.
8   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:50pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I strongly believe the mainstream media is heavily controlled from a central source. (rather than everything spontanously/naturally arising as you stated). To be precise the media has a motivation to both support the agenda of their sponsors (government/business) and to remain profitable (ie. publishing inflammatory content).

I have read the front page of CNN daily for about 15 years, and I have seen very clear patterns supporting this continually occur. As an example, any time US geopolitical interests or defense contractor interests support a war in another country, even if most of the population/audience does not support or care about it there will be a series of very similar articles published to essentially emotionally prime the population to want whatever the opposing government in place is to go. The content is identical, and always happens at the exact time when it is in the business/government interest to prime the population for a war.

Equally, if you simply google “proof the mainstream media is controlled” you can see tons of clips from around the country on local newstations with newsanchors reading the exact same script word for word to describe current events. The only way something like that can happen is if the news media is being centrally controlled and disseminated, and if that’s the case, it’s not a major leap of faith to assume the distributors are also trying to support various agendas.

Many people I know who have worked in news media stated that they were explicitly forbidden from covering/discussing certain topics (which tended to challenge business/government interests) and they often were forced to cover certain topics (ie. why Assad was bad/we needed to go to war).

I think a more accurate way to characterize the mainstream media is the following:
a) American media is based around agitating/upsetting its viewers and provoking a reaction. This essentially fits with your thesis.
b) American media needs to perpetually distract the populace from more important issues which challenge the power structure, so there is a disposition towards covering trivial unimportant things to divert attention from real issues (as the romans would say “bread and circus”)
c) The American Media is a business, so it needs to support it’s bottom line which is does via inflammatory content.
d) To a large extent to topics covered and not covered are determined by government/business interests.


9   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 10:59pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

The inclusion of “stopping prison rape” as something we all want particularly jumped out at me – I assure you, I have run into plenty of people who are actively against stopping prison rape. They think it’s what criminals deserve, and if you don’t want it to happen to you then you shouldn’t commit crimes. ...

This includes, BTW, some SJWs who think it’s awesome that some white males have to live for years terrified of being raped.
10   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 11:00pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

If Tumblr is an environment prone to this sort of factionalism and non-constructive debate, what would the opposite be like? ie. conducive to reasonable group discussion and truth-seeking without the social signalling. Could we construct such an environment?

I don’t think that’s a lofty goal. It just takes strict moderation and a self-selected group of reasonable people who want to have good discussions.
11   Ceffer   ignore (5)   2020 Jul 28, 11:03pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Knock up an SJW and get rage meme propagation.
12   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 11:07pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

“Gresham’s law of Usenet” stated that “bad postings drive out good”. In other words, if one posted a sane, sensible, reasonable remark, readers would nod sagely in agreement and move on. But if one posted a completely ludicrous, offensive and confrontational attack on a previous remark, dozens of trolls (although I don’t think the term was used back then) would come out of the woodwork and respond in an equally ludicrous, offensive and confrontational manner, each setting off a similar response, and so on, until battles among ludicrous, offensive and confrontational posters were all that one could reasonably hope to find. Needless to say, this dynamic has now carried over into blogs and social media.

That explains why angry, unproductive arguments dominate blogs and social media, but it doesn’t explain why divisive, polarizing stories dominate the news. After all, people can say ludicrous, offensive and confrontational things about just about any subject–so how do certain subjects come to dominate? Here, I think our host misses a key factor: what the confrontational topics share is a fact pattern that lends itself more or less equally well to two completely different interpretations, depending on one’s prior biases. Michael Brown was either an innocent bystander gunned down by a racist cop, or a seasoned hoodlum who started a fight with an arresting officer and lost. (Similarly for Travyon Martin.) And PETA is either a creepy cult luring converts by promising cash to the desperate, or a high-minded nonprofit using donated cash to promote high-minded behavior. In these cases, where two diametrically opposed interpretations of the same facts are competing for dominance, it’s not surprising that a great many people chime in loudly, often and aggressively, hoping to score a “win” for their preferred interpretation by adding their voice to the cacophony. In cases where the narrative isn’t in significant dispute, on the other hand, there’s no need to compete to establish one’s preferred one, and therefore no need to chime in.

Of course, in reality volume doesn’t really “win”–the individual case ultimately gets resolved by the appropriate legal or political processes, and the larger issue gets debated over years or decades, and more or less resolved one way or the other (or perhaps oscillates back and forth between two or more resolutions over time), based on collective experience, interests and preferences. But few people have the sense of perspective to hold their tongues in the heat of the moment, when it seems that at least half the country has completely “misinterpreted” a recent event.
13   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 11:10pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      



There’s a view floating around the NRX community that “real” Christianity (in the Early Church sense) was a horrifically corrosive meme that literally destroyed civilization, and that the Catholicism of the Dark and Middle Ages was a containment system set up to prevent it from wrecking what was left of order.

The containment lasted about 1000 years*, at which point the virulent form of the meme escaped the pages of the New Testament and promptly caused three hundred years of really awful wars.

I’m not sure if there are any practical lessons here, as stuffing literacy back in the bottle again and forcibly cloistering all the intellectuals is unlikely to be feasible this time, but it’s interesting to consider (that chunk of) history memetically as not just meme combat, but meme containment.

*I think I just identified the Beast chained in the Pit for 1000 years. This would explain some things about the present era….
14   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 28, 11:14pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

The hidden premise in the PETA Principle is that IF you want to spread your cause further, you have to sabotage it by being an asshole. Obviously, the cause-bearer wants to spread his cause all the way, and thinks nothing of the consequences. But what about the interests of humans in general? Maybe, collectively, we already care enough about all the bad things. We’ve reached the point of diminishing marginal returns for caring.

If so, we come to an interesting conclusion: the activists running afoul of the PETA Principle aren’t trapped in an impossible situation between letting the cause fail and being an asshole. They’re just assholes. Sociopathic defectors trying to spread their cause for fame, fortune, prestige, and psychic satisfaction, with no interest in whether this is a good thing overall.

Now, if you’ve ever met these sorts of people, you realize this fits them to a t. Regular readers may recall the exchange between Scott and Arthur REDACTED, but examples abound. We’ve all excused them in the past on the grounds that The Cause Is Just. Maybe we were just wrong, and they were using this confusion to take advantage of us the way sociopathic assholes do.


This seems to fit BLM to a "t" as well. They are sociopathic assholes who harm their own cause exactly because their evil behavior gets attention. That evil turns everyone against the cause, but they don't care, they got their fame, fortune, prestige, and psychic satisfaction, which is all they were really after.

The Unabomber described it well. See https://patrick.net/post/1333832/2020-07-13-end-leftist-violence
15   NoCoupForYou   ignore (2)   2020 Jul 29, 12:48am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says

a) American media is based around agitating/upsetting its viewers and provoking a reaction. This essentially fits with your thesis.
b) American media needs to perpetually distract the populace from more important issues which challenge the power structure, so there is a disposition towards covering trivial unimportant things to divert attention from real issues (as the romans would say “bread and circus”)
c) The American Media is a business, so it needs to support it’s bottom line which is does via inflammatory content.
d) To a large extent to topics covered and not covered are determined by government/business interests.


I don't see the Media as profit-driven anymore, from the News to Hollywood. For the most part, they serve the socio-political agenda of owners.

Imagine if in 1980-2000 Alex Jones had 1M people listening daily on shortwave/AM Radio/whatever. Media orgs would be lining up to sign him up for a TV show/documentary/etc. At least an HBO Special. It's been several years now since he's been banned from Youtube, Twitter, even Roku channels. There are people far nuttier than Alex Jones (Shirley McClane, Whitley Schreiber, etc.) who got lots of media time, paid appearances, and specials.

Netflix is shocking to me - it's a handful of (Supposedly) decent programs surrounded by tons of leftist propaganda films, plus the leftist messaging within the programming.

Marcusian tolerance (fake tolerance, tolerance only for the minority extreme position and discrimination against the majority opinion) has been institutionalized starting in the 90s when liberals and libertarians insisted that the Academic craziness would just blow over. The Chinese, Russians, AND the multinationals are exploiting the power of Marcusian tolerance to divide and weaken US and Western Society.

There has to be a limit somewhere. The best answer is the old "equal time." so far.
16   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 29, 8:48pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

...the individual progressives are the ones choosing to push stories like the UVA “rape.” That story was selected for all sorts of reasons, but chief among them was that it fit many of those biases to a T. I say it’s exactly the sort of story the progressive cabal would run with, because it’s political, which means it’s about raising the status of the right sort of people and lowering the status of the wrong sort of people, not stopping rape. ...

A cabal might screen out the worst cases, do a bit more due diligence, but the effect would be pretty marginal. Worse, even if the cabal itself was rational, for a story to have a serious effect, it has to catch on with the public, which means that it has to trigger their tribal monkey brains, and blander but truer stories won’t do that.
17   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 29, 8:50pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

NoCoupForYou says
I don't see the Media as profit-driven anymore, from the News to Hollywood. For the most part, they serve the socio-political agenda of owners.


I think you're right, with the prime example being WaPo as Jeff Bezos' personal mouthpiece to promote continued outsourcing to China and continued profits for him.
18   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 29, 9:32pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Look at the internal dysfunction of left-leaning groups. Can you understand some of the unease that any reasonable person must feel when they reflect on the ascendancy of these groups? Although this worry is sometimes expressed in bizarre ways, the worry itself is grounded in legitimate concerns about the chaotic nature of the left.
19   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 29, 11:01pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

if industry or culture or community gets Blue enough, Red Tribe members start getting harassed, fired from their jobs (Brendan Eich being the obvious example) or otherwise shown the door.

Think of Brendan Eich as a member of a tiny religious minority surrounded by people who hate that minority. Suddenly firing him doesn’t seem very noble.
20   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 29, 11:08pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Spending your entire life insulting the other tribe and talking about how terrible they are makes you look, well, tribalistic. It is definitely not high class. So when members of the Blue Tribe decide to dedicate their entire life to yelling about how terrible the Red Tribe is, they make sure that instead of saying “the Red Tribe”, they say “America”, or “white people”, or “straight white men”. That way it’s humble self-criticism. They are so interested in justice that they are willing to critique their own beloved side, much as it pains them to do so. ...

The Blue Tribe always has an excuse at hand to persecute and crush any Red Tribers unfortunate enough to fall into its light-matter-universe by defining them as all-powerful domineering oppressors. ...

As a result, every Blue Tribe institution is permanently licensed to take whatever emergency measures are necessary against the Red Tribe, however disturbing they might otherwise seem.

And so how virtuous, how noble the Blue Tribe! Perfectly tolerant of all of the different groups that just so happen to be allied with them, never intolerant unless it happen to be against intolerance itself. Never stooping to engage in petty tribal conflict like that awful Red Tribe, but always nobly criticizing their own culture and striving to make it better!

Sorry. ... The weird dynamic of Blue outgroup-philia and ingroup-phobia isn’t anything of the sort. It’s just good old-fashioned in-group-favoritism and outgroup bashing, a little more sophisticated and a little more sneaky.


Quotes are now from https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/
21   TrumpingTits   ignore (4)   2020 Jul 30, 2:17pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
Wow, this fits perfectly with the "Silence is Violence" BLM meme. BLM is a rage meme that demands that you propagate rage or be attacked yourself for not propagating rage.

This also fits with Islam, which demands jihad to spread Islam. Even if you're Muslim, if you refuse to join the jihad, they'll kill you too.


Religious extremists have some core characteristics. One of them is a pathological hatred of apostates (real or imaginary). Heretics are not even in the same camp, despite conventional thought dictating otherwise.
22   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 30, 5:53pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Right, betray the group, and the group will certainly try to kill you.
23   rocketjoe79   ignore (1)   2020 Jul 31, 3:14pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

This also shows up in Pop Culture: in the MMORRPG World of Warcraft, I remember the Blood Elf NPC war cry is "Death to All Who Oppose Us!"

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