Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Well, This is a Cheerful Thought

    Posted by David Foster on February 13th, 2019 (All posts by )

    …not.

    Twitter’s Takeover of Politics is Just Getting Started.

    Summary at Tyler Cowen’s blog:

    But what does this new, more intense celebrity culture mean for actual outcomes? The more power and influence that individual communicators wield over public opinion, the harder it will be for a sitting president to get things done. (The best option, see above, will be to make your case and engage your adversaries on social media.) The harder it will be for an aspirant party to put forward a coherent, predictable and actionable political program.

    Finally, the issues that are easier to express on social media will become the more important ones. Technocratic dreams will fade, and fiery rhetoric and identity politics will rule the day. And if you think this is the political world we’re already living in, rest assured: It’s just barely gotten started.

    See also my post freedom, the village, and social media.

     

    20 Responses to “Well, This is a Cheerful Thought”

    1. Grurray Says:

      Put yourself in Omar’s shoes. You are a freshman representative in a group of 435. Most of your cohort will never receive national recognition, and as a Muslim woman, perhaps your hold on the seat is not entirely secure. You will probably never run for president, or even Senate, so your future is not tied very closely to that of the Democratic Party.

      I would say that is not a “probably” but a definite, hard “never”. Dozens of attempts to change the natural born citizen clause have failed, and Omar has provided us a nice reminder of why. One good thing about Twitter is when unqualified idiots like her are projected onto the national scene, the public gets a quick chance to filter them right back out of it. It’s rough sometimes, but there’s a lot at stake. If you can’t take the heat then get out of the kitchen.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Leaving aside her views for now, the general trend is striking: Social media is allowing individual politicians to further their own careers at the expense of their party’s reputation.

      Didn’t this start with television? Social media accelerates the effect.

      But the tweets will also make you a national celebrity. That may help your future ability to get a book contract, hit the lecture circuit, or join a lobbying or nonprofit firm. Even if most Americans find your views objectionable, there will be a place for you in a country this large, wealthy and diverse.

      All of the above. Another possibility that’s not incompatible with Cowen’s argument is that there will be more turnover in the Congressional membership. Omar has options – she doesn’t need to become another Dingell or Pelosi.

      This trend will almost certainly continue and intensify.

      Seems likely.

      Most politicians do not have excellent social media skills, but many will try to get noticed and have an impact (or at least hire staff members who will). As more politicians up their game on social media, more of these attempts will hit home. Ocasio-Cortez will have competition. The influence and reach of political celebrities will grow stronger, and the parties will become weaker yet.

      I think it’s more likely that the distribution of people who get elected will continue to shift to include a greater proportion of the kinds of people who succeed on social media, who are more likely to be flamboyant solo operators than apparatchik types. The parties will function less as buffers and there will be more volatility in election results. We see this already in the radical shift from Obama to Trump (compare to Ford/Carter or GHW Bush/Clinton or Clinton/W Bush) and in the elections of lefty outliers to Congressional seats. One reason why there are already so many Democratic presidential candidates, including relatively extreme leftists, may be that these people realize that they actually do have a chance to win. (Alternately, being a presidential candidate is an extremely visible social-media role.)

    3. Mike K Says:

      The funniest thing about those post-it notes on the door is that they were probably all written by her.

      We are in the era of fake everything, including “hate crimes.”

    4. Jonathan Says:

      Also:

      Technocratic dreams will fade, and fiery rhetoric and identity politics will rule the day.

      I don’t think anyone has a clue. It’s conceivable that a sufficient number of voters will tire of identity politics as to drive a political reaction and resurgence of technocratic or other kinds of political appeals.

    5. Grurray Says:

      Good, let the technocratic dreams fade. They already faded. In the 80s almost all members of the Soviet politburo were engineers. Look how that turned out.
      97% of climate scientists agree that you should trade in your car for a bicycle. Thank God they don’t make policy.

    6. Kirk Says:

      Twitter’s most major effect on things is that it has finally shone a light on just how stupid and insipid most of our politicians and media figures actually are. Their own words are what’s killing them, and Twitter has unconsciously enabled that.

      Before the “now”, all you saw was a black box; you never knew what the supposed “experts” and “thought leaders” were actually saying or thinking, because all that was invisible. Twitter has basically opened that all up for the entire nation to witness the witless we’ve put up on pedestals.

      Nine-tenths of the reason the media is freaking out is that they sense this shift, and are scared out of their wits at the implications. Before the “now”, they could effortlessly keep someone like Omar afloat in terms of public opinion, because they would never publicize what she said in private, or look at her activities with an eye towards broadcasting that to the world. Now? LOL… Omar and her ilk are highlining themselves above the military crest, and that’s making reality visible to the general public for the very first time in history.

      Twitter is basically a tool that allows the village idiots of our nation to self-identify, and that’s killing the media types simply because those village idiots are the ones they used to cover for, in political life, and that enabled an awful lot of background manipulation and chicanery. What’s happened with things like Twitter is that the stage curtain has been pulled back, revealing that most of these jackasses are like the infamous Wizard of Oz: Entirely pedestrian and not the “great men” we’ve imagined them to be, with the obfuscating help of the mass media.

      In a sense, we’re going back to the village, where everyone knew everyone else, for good and ill. The village idiots who’ve been able to achieve fame and fortune on the national stage, because nobody knew them outside the village? They’re done for; now their idiocy is out there for everyone to know and see, and the media can’t hide it.

      Interesting times, interesting times…

    7. Brian Says:

      I believe the day after the election Google executives were saying that they could not allow “this” to “happen again.” By all accounts the Trump team used Facebook, etc., brilliantly in 2016. One hopes they have a plan to get around the overt opposition they’re going to face from all tech platforms in 2020.

    8. James the lesser Says:

      Kirk: I think the more savvy actors/politicians have a PR team to produce their tweets. We only see the sloppy thinking of the overconfident.

    9. Kirk Says:

      If they’ve got PR teams, then a bunch of those teams are as arrogant and clueless as their clients.

      Twitter, at this moment, is a vision into the actual thinking and beliefs of the elite, and that vision is cluing in a bunch of people out in the hinterlands as to just who the people making up the “elite” actually are.

      Case in point–The current carpetbagging idiot we have as governor out here in Washington state: Jay Inslee. He started out as a Representative out here in the eastern half of the state, and when talked to him in person on the campaign trail, he talked good game, and seemed like he was a decent “Scoop” Jackson Democrat. Bastard got into office, and as soon as he hit Congress, he turned into a Teddy Kennedy Democrat–Which is why he lost his seat here after one term. I surmise that had that idiot had access to Twitter, we’d have never fallen for his bullshit–Mainly because he wouldn’t have been able to hide who he really was the way he did.

    10. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      The Titanic analogy gets grossly overused — but in the case of the political world, it is spot on. The Best & Brightest are spending about $1.30 for each $1.00 they take in (extort?) in taxes. The politicians’ National Debt is about $170,000 per taxpayer — and growing. Social Security is a doomed Ponzi scheme. And the trade deficit is unsustainable.

      The Political Class ignores all of this, of course. Probably in most cases they don’t even understand the problem. To paraphrase, you may not be interested in debt, but debt is interested in you. No-one can predict when the ship hits the iceberg — but the collision is inevitable. When past financial foolishness catches up to the present, Twitter will be irrelevant, along with almost every one of today’s political figures.

    11. TRX Says:

      i think Twitter’s influence is exaggerated. People hooked on the Twitter echo chamber forget that, to most Americans, Twitter is just more crapware that was preinstalled on their phone.

      Exactly how many people use Twitter seems to be a nebulous figure; most claims seem to be seven to nine percent, of which some unknown number just tried it once or twice and ignored it thereafter.

    12. Brian Says:

      TRX: Almost no one reads the New York Times, yet it incredibly influential, setting the terms of the debate in the MSM and trickling down to all local media. Twitter aspires to that sort of influence, which is why “blue check mark” media idiots are heavily protected by them.

    13. David Foster Says:

      1–Twitter, by its very design, encourages communicating in short chunks of text. It makes TV soundbites look like comprehensive essays by comparison.

      2–It seems to have been the most effective of the social media platforms for the enablement of on-line mobbing.

      3–The management of the company appears to be highly committed to promulgating a “progressive” worldview in their business operations.

      4–Unlike Facebook, with which the communication links are largely among people who actually *know* one another in real life, or small/medium-scale blogs, which have a regular community of commenters, Twitter is largely about ‘communication’ among an anomic mass.

      See John Hawkins, 15 Quotes That Show How Dangerous Social Media Has Become to Our Society.

      https://pjmedia.com/trending/15-devastating-quotes-that-show-you-how-dangerous-social-media-has-become-to-our-society/

      Note especially #11:

      One of the things I’ve been very interested in is feats of concentration that people used to perform all the time — [such as] writing a book in six weeks or a computer program in a few days. I don’t think that’s impossible now, but I do think it’s become considerably harder in our environment to enter important and deep states of focus and concentration, because we surround ourselves with technology, whose business model is to distract us.

      Our computers are ostensibly productivity-enhancing machines, but they also are loaded with platforms whose business model is to consume as much of your time as possible with ads and noise and distraction.

      There’s nothing wrong with taking a break, but we’ve engineered our environment for distraction. We bob from one thing to another, perpetually. And I don’t know if it’s so great for our culture or even ourselves.

      –Tim Wu

    14. ErisGuy Says:

      People who discuss politics think that is the primary use of Twitter, because it’s to what they pay attention. It’s not.

    15. Anonymous Says:

      Re: Hawkin’s “15 Devastating”

      Shallow emotions. An incapacity to feel genuine love. A need for stimulation. Frequent verbal outbursts

      He’s kidding, right? Perennial. Also sounds like his [Milo’s] autobiography. OMG! People are incapable of feeling genuine love! Quick-abolishing Facebook will fix this. This is almost too stupid to reply to.

      Cosmetic surgery procedures have increased 137 percent since 2000, according to a report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, with young people contributing to the rise significantly. In what scientists have called ‘Snapchat dysmorphia.

      No doubt Snapchat was the cause for women wanting big plastic boobs in 1975, too. A program released in 2011 affects plastic surgeons’ income in 2001, 2002, 2003. I’m sure the ASPS is so upset at this trend, they’ll refuse to perform useless surgery. As if. Worse sort of projection—surgeons are amoral scum operating on teenagers and taking their money, then they blame—get this—teenagers. “She made me do it, your honor!”

      Twice as many teenagers now have depression as a generation ago.

      Proof? Psychology has a diagnostic and replication crises, remember? If depression can be reliably diagnosed and if twice as many teenagers have it, why not blame fear of your Leftist parents making you transsexual.

      This “15 Devastating Quotes” article should be right there with “destroying toe fungus” and “disrupting billion-dollar industry” and “police in [your town] are.” Why didn’t my ad filter catch it?

    16. David Foster Says:

      anon 8:48am

      Yeah, there have always been extremely vain people, and various forms of the other pathologies you mention. But the phone & media obsession really is concerning. Just the other day, I saw a woman halfway through a door, holding it part open with one hand while obsessively doing something with her phone with the other. Couldn’t wait 5 second to get through the door.

      Part of it is *screens* in general, and their function as an attention magnet. A flight instructor mentioned that when he teaches in airplanes with large GPS display screens, it is very difficult to get student to focus their attention on the world outside the cockpit, even on final approach to landing. Add social-media and always-on wireless, and the power of the attention magnet goes way up.

      When the telegraph was first invented, a journalist marveled that ‘with this invention, there is no ELSEWHERE’. If wired communications reduced the sense of Elsewhere, it seems that wireless communications reduces the sense of the *here and now*.

    17. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Is communications at a distance (whether wired or wireless) really that beneficial?

      Alan Palmer’s worthwhile 1987 book “Banner of Battle” about the unusually pointless Crimean War (France, Britain, and Sardinia shoring up the Muslim Turkish Ottoman Empire by attacking Orthodox Christian Russia) notes that during the course of the war (mid-1850s) the European telegraph system finally expanded to the point where remote politicians in Paris & London could for the first time in history begin to intervene in the conduct of a distant war on a day-to-day basis. Generally, this was not helpful — a lesson which LBJ could usefully have applied in Vietnam.

    18. David Foster Says:

      Gavin…indeed, communications limitations have historically *forced* a certain level of decentralization and delegation. The Emperor had to delegate a degree of authority to his regional governors. The Army commander had to delegate authority to his division commanders. The CEO had to delegate authority to his regional sales managers.

      With ever-better communications, decentralization becomes more of an explicit choice rather than something that can’t be avoided, and too many organizations will decide that everything is better decided at headquarters. The vogue for “big data” will certainly drive more of this.

      I haven’t read it, but someone wrote an interesting-sounding book about the impact of the telegraph on diplomacy.

    19. David Foster Says:

      This might be the book I mentioned on diplomacy and the telegraph:

      https://www.amazon.com/Under-Wire-Telegraph-Diplomacy-Historical/dp/0674010353

    20. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      The late Buckminster Fuller talked in one of his books (might have been “Utopia or Oblivion”) about the training of British naval officers back in the days of Imperialism. A captain would sail off out of contact and reappear many months (even years) later to advise the Queen that she now had a new territory … or a new war. It was critically important that the captain could act appropriately in unexpected circumstances, which required a training that instilled principles.

      Instantaneous communication has changed that, and reduced many previously high-level jobs to one of mostly implementing orders from a distant HQ. Added to the pressure from excessive litigation which results in individuals often having to follow prescriptive policies rather than use common sense, it has made working life less interesting for many people — and probably less efficient.

    Leave a Reply

    Comments Policy:  By commenting here you acknowledge that you have read the Chicago Boyz blog Comments Policy, which is posted under the comment entry box below, and agree to its terms.

    A real-time preview of your comment will appear under the comment entry box below.

    Comments Policy

    Chicago Boyz values reader contributions and invites you to comment as long as you accept a few stipulations:

    1) Chicago Boyz authors tend to share a broad outlook on issues but there is no party or company line. Each of us decides what to write and how to respond to comments on his own posts. Occasionally one or another of us will delete a comment as off-topic, excessively rude or otherwise unproductive. You may think that we deleted your comment unjustly, and you may be right, but it is usually best if you can accept it and move on.

    2) If you post a comment and it doesn't show up it was probably blocked by our spam filter. We batch-delete spam comments, typically in the morning. If you email us promptly at we may be able to retrieve and publish your comment.

    3) You may use common HTML tags (italic, bold, etc.). Please use the "href" tag to post long URLs. The spam filter tends to block comments that contain multiple URLs. If you want to post multiple URLs you should either spread them across multiple comments or email us so that we can make sure that your comment gets posted.

    4) This blog is private property. The First Amendment does not apply. We have no obligation to publish your comments, follow your instructions or indulge your arguments. If you are unwilling to operate within these loose constraints you should probably start your own blog and leave us alone.

    5) Comments made on the Chicago Boyz blog are solely the responsibility of the commenter. No comment on any post on Chicago Boyz is to be taken as a statement from or by any contributor to Chicago Boyz, the Chicago Boyz blog, its administrators or owners. Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners, by permitting comments, do not thereby endorse any claim or opinion or statement made by any commenter, nor do they represent that any claim or statement made in any comment is true. Further, Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners expressly reject and disclaim any association with any comment which suggests any threat of bodily harm to any person, including without limitation any elected official.

    6) Commenters may not post content that infringes intellectual property rights. Comments that violate this rule are subject to deletion or editing to remove the infringing content. Commenters who repeatedly violate this rule may be banned from further commenting on Chicago Boyz. See our DMCA policy for more information.