YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=rj0VLfljf2k
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Duration:23:51
Uploaded:2021-01-12
Last sync:2021-01-12 21:15
Just wanted to think out loud for a while. Still completely unsure of what the hell to do about any of this.

 (00:00) to (02:00)


I want to talk about this tweet. This tweet that I made right here. That says, "With any luck, the next generation will look at social media the way we look at cigarettes." I tweeted -I just was like *raghhhh* and I tweeted that. And it has, like, 50,000 likes. And, I want to -uhh, like I want to temper it. And talk about what I'm actually talking about. Now, I'm -I intentionally -like, look, if we're being honest with ourselves I intentionally made that Tweet sound like, I was like, anything I do to make this Tweet sound more like how I actually feel is gonna make it less punchy and to some extent, I want a punchy Tweet right now, and so I think that I ended up Tweeting something that like, is not clear what it means and it's uh, it's punchy and it is the very thing that it rails against.  Not that I'm Tweeting, but that I'm Tweeting in a way that is all about having the punchiest, hottest take and maybe that's the real lesson, everyone.  I did it intentionally, see?  See?  I lured you all in and I showed you, all 50,000 of you.  

No, that's how I was feeling and I--and so, I think, as I've been thinking about this Tweet, that there are three really important things that we call social media that are all totally different things.  There is this new lowerered barriers to communication and to audience and to access world, where individuals have platforms that can be as large as news media organizations and where Donald Trump has 88 million followers, where I have a million, where like, this world is weird, right, and where anybody can Tweet anything and then suddenly everyone will see it, but also the same on YouTube and on Facebook and on TikTok and on Instagram, like, all of these ways that we have developed these technological tools that allow us to communicate in new and rapid ways.  

 (02:00) to (04:00)


I think that regardless of what platform it is, that thing is one of the things, just that the way that the internet has lowered the barrier to communication and lowered the barrier to distribution and made it so that anybody can communicate and any idea can be amplified, and that has a bunch of good parts and bad parts.

Number two, there are the corporations themselves.  This is separate from that first thing.  The corporations, like, there is Facebook and there is Twitter and there is Google/YouTube, and there is TikTok and there is Facebook with Instagram again, and there's even Twitch, but maybe a little less so, and so there--and there is Jack Dorsey and there is Mark Zuckerberg and there's Susan Wojcicki and there's Vanessa Papas is the head of TikTok in America, if you were curious about that name, and all those, these people, and they, and the power that they have and wield because it wasn't in the TOS that you can't like, make a speech that results in people storming the Capitol, because what did Trump say exactly?  

What we know is that the way that he speaks incites people to violence, and it's not entirely, like, it's not like he gets up there and says "Go kill people at the Capitol building".  He creates circumstances that result in violence.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)


That's what real good, you know, strong men are good at.  Like, they aren't there, they didn't tell you to do it, but you know that they wanted it to happen and that it happened, and that, like, Trump is there  Trump is good at this.  He's--he is the fucking, like, back to the first thing, the first troubling thing, just the existence of a new media usually spawns some strongman despots, and I'm not saying, like, this happens every time, so we shouldn't be worried about it--no!  It was very bad.  Like, Hitler was very good at the radio and Mussolini was very good at news reels and Modi is very good at Instagram and Trump is very good at Twitter.  

They are good at creating the tension and letting it fly.  They're good at pulling back the string of the bow and letting go and then saying, ah, the arrow!  It struck someone.  But the arrow is the mob that is putting the Capitol under siege and I think that there is a first pro--a thing with--a problem with the first thing, that social media, is that thing, and so, but then there are these people who are ridiculously powerful who can decide, who can decide that a president doesn't get to have access to the 88 million people who would like to hear from him on Twitter, and I'm not talking to 88 million people who voted for him.  The 88 million people who follow him include lots of people who do not like him but follow him anyway on Twitter, but still lots of people that do like him, and that's weird and these, but not just that.  

That's weird, but so are many other things.  The fact that YouTube can algorithmically, and does, decide what content gets viewed and like, and the fact that Facebook can like, turn a dial on like, the mood of a country basically, like, theoretically.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


This is something that people have indicated might be a thing that they are able to do, that they can, that they can really affect how people feel about the world and themselves even.  Like, that these companies have this level of power and the way that the individual companies actually wield it is a separate thing, so like, the decisions that Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg and Susan Wojcicki make are like, a separate thing that we might be thinking I mean when I say "social media", and then, there is the third thing, which is the people who use it and their behavior.

So how do I, as a user of social media, use it and this is probably what most people are--well, I don't know, I think that when you say social media, it's like, so easy to get on board with that because it's not clear even what that is, but we are social media  You are an editor if you have a Twitter.  You might not know it, you might not have a lot of impact, but someone like you who, like, will have had a big Tweet and didn't mean for it to happen and people, like, there is this guy, there's this Tweet, you probably saw it, 'cause it was on Facebook, it was everywhere, where it was like, "Here's reasons to impeach Donald Trump: He won't get a pension, he won't have access to his travel budget anymore," and that's not true.  Like, none of those things are true.  

Yes, he won't be able to run for president again, that was the one true thing on that list, but the rest of them were untrue.  A reporter reached out to that guy and was like, why did you Tweet this, it's not true, and the guy was like, well, I saw it on Facebook and it made me feel good and so I posted it on Twitter and that made me feel good and it made a bunch of other people feel good, and they're like, well, it's true.  

 (08:00) to (10:00)


Can you take it do--like, it's not true, so are you gonna take it down, and he was like, Well, I don't know what to do.  Well, I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do.  I lied to a bunch of people but I think I'll probably just leave it because like, I don't know what to do and it feels good and I've seen that a bunch of times where I've been like, Hey, this is wrong.  The Tweet you Tweeted is wrong.  I stopped doing this because it like, it was so disillusioning.  The Tweet you Tweeted is wrong and then they're like, well, who's to say?  And I'm like, well, it is, it's just wrong, here's the thing, and then they're like, well, oh well, but like, I'm getting a lot of attention right now and I do have more followers than I used to and it feels good, so I think I'll leave it up.  I don't want to admit that I've done anything wrong and I don't want to take away the feeling that I'm currently having.  

So a lot of that makes me feel bad about social media.  Now, there are a number of other things right now in my own life that I feel, that like, make me feel this Tweet.  Like, we're gonna look at social media the way we look at cigarettes.  Now, this is obviously an imperfect analogy because like, there isn't any good thing about cigarettes, except that they make you feel good and then you want to keep using them.  They, there really isn't, like, if only in economic terms, like, they addict you, and then you have to keep buying them.  The only potential good side effect of cigarettes is if they make you look cool, which they don't really anymore.  They mostly, and like, it feels good to have a nicotine high, though that goes away fairly quickly, I've heard.  I've only had one nicotine high in my life because I smoked a cigar at a wedding and I was on the fucking top of the world.  I was like, this is a drug!  Why didn't--like, this is just drugs!  Why didn't anyone say?  It was weird.  I mean, I get the sense that like, maybe smoking a cigar is not--shouldn't be your like, first step into nicotine.

 (10:00) to (12:00)


It was a lot of drugs really fast.  Anyway, but there are good things, of course, about social media, like, there are things that I love.  There are parts of it that I love.  There are experiences that I have on Twitter that I love.  Everything from like, really mundane ones to like, you know, connecting with somebody who I like, really respect and like, likes my Tweet or says something nice to me, but all the way down to just, like, the, you know, the group of people who I interact with most and having like, fun times, it's just like, fun times, you know, and you know, like, but what--and so, it's an imperfect analogy, but what I do think is that people will look at the way we use social media in this year and also in previous years and also in several future years at least, and they will think, that was deeply unhealthy, and like, there's the deeply unhealthy where it's doomscrolling, and like, that's a portion of deeply unhealthy.  Like, this is me, I am making a deeply unhealthy decision and because like, I am addicted to this in this moment, I can't stop.  I just can't stop looking 'cause I want the next piece of information, and I know that I'm not gonna be able to do anything about it and I should just go to sleep and then I can find out the information that came out during the night when I wake up and that would be much healthier and yet I can't stop.

So that, that is an unhealthy behavior, but that's an individual thing.  I think that we will look back and we will see a broader, hopefully, it may be that we won't because we'll be like, in a new world now that this will have ushered in and we'll be stuck with it, but we will have noticed a broader problem that Twitter and all social media created, which is less in-person interaction, like, radicalizing forces on both sides, but obviously more on one side than the other, a division in society that is possibly impossible to heal, less interpersonal connection, people finding easy cheap meaning on social media when they could be--when they would otherwise be looking to robust, harder meaning of family and friends and compromise and care and like, all of the things that like, community relies on, and that the results of that really are tremendously societally destructive, and that like, that to me is a combination of all three of these things, and so like, I can look at this Tweet and feel like, oh, this is really about my personal use of social media, but I don't think that that is actually what I was trying to say here.

 (12:00) to (14:00)


What I'm trying to say is that the structure of this new media and our inability to sort of know how to handle it well, along with the profit motive and the decisions that have been made by the leaders and the people at those companies, along with the decisions that are being made by the people who use these platforms in unhealthy ways, whether that's like we know it's unhealthy, or whether it's just like, well, we are doing this instead of doing something else, and the thing that we would have been doing would actually have been healthier for some people, not all people, all of those things are gonna--like, I think that we will look back on it and be like, that was a time where we did this very badly and it was extremely destructive and led to a lot of death, a lot of misery, a lot of disability, and like, that sounds like hyperbole, except with COVID, it's not.

 (14:00) to (16:00)


Like, death and disability is a side effect of COVID and COVID misinformation is a side effect of social media, that I do not think we would be having at this scale and so like, all three of those things are things to be worried about, but I--but like, they are not the same thing, but they are easy to--it's easy to look at that Tweet and think I mean any one of those things, that I mean Jack Dorsey or I mean the way I'm doomscrolling or I mean the sort of institution of like, a broad like, change in how communication is working as like, a species right now and us not being good at that because of course we're not good at it, because we have no idea how to do it, because it's never existed before and no one was built for this and now, I will say, we are not built for our societies (?~15:16) the thing, the good thing about people, the thing that we are best at is taking new situations and running with them.  I just think it takes a little bit of time. 

It takes more than ten--when I started on YouTube, like, Facebook wasn't available to people outside of schools.  Is that true?  Like, Twitter launched in 2006, I think and I started in YouTube on 2007, and like, Barack Obama didn't join Twitter until 2009 or something, so like, this is all very new and I said this in the Delete This that Katherine and I did this weekend.  I think this is going to get worse before it gets better, which tends to be what happens with communications technologies, but then it will get--it will be better  than it ever was and it will all be because of the thing, so what I really mean when I say that we're gonna look at this like it was cigarettes, I don't mean social media.  

 (16:00) to (18:00)


I mean the way that it is currently existing in society, the way that we are using it, the way it is being used, the way it has been leveraged for all kinds of like, societally destructive ends and also individually destructive ends, and the way that it has harmed the fabric of our society and of our republic, which is, you know, undeniable.  Undeniable that social media is the thing that led to this level of like, ability to deny truth and success of a, you know, of authoritarian strongmen, which--who can have this like, really direct, unimpeded, unfiltered relationship with their audience and I think that it should, like, we are in a situation now where like, I think that obviously the right call is to get Donald Trump off Twitter, because like, he is able to use that for destruction in a way that is really only serves him and is very, very destructive to everything else, but like, we shouldn't be here.  We shouldn't have got here.

Social media shouldn't like, Jack Dorsey shouldn't be in a situation where he is that powerful and Donald Trump shouldn't be in a situation where like, we shouldn't be in a situation where anyone has been able to consolidate power on Twitter to the extent--on a social media platform to the extent where if that social media platform kicks them off, then like, it's a national crisis where we don't know how to deal with like, a private company made a very normal decision that it was better for their business model, for like, a belligerent person to not be in their restaurant right now and then it's like a national crisis  

 (18:00) to (20:00)


We should not have got there.  That's the problem.  That's the place where the problem is.  The problem isn't with kicking Donald Trump off the platform.  It's, the problem is where we were the day before we kicked Donald Trump off the platform.  That's the problem, and how we got there is much more interesting than how we got to Donald Trump being kicked off, which was like, a normal fucking decision.

So all of that is to say, this is hard and I don't--I'm not saying that I hate social media or that like, I obviously love it, right?  Like, I love it.  I love it.  I love, like, there are so many great moments I've had on Twitter, on TikTok, on YouTube, obviously, like, many of the greatest moments of my life happened on this page, right?  So, I love it, but like, I am also a critic of it, and so I think that like, of the things that we do right now that will be looked at as like, similarly idiotic as like, getting all of America addicted to nicotine, I think the current way that we're using social media is going to be seen as one of those ways and the current way that it is run, the current--yeah, and like, I don't--when people are gonna blame us for it, they're gonna be like, oh, what idiots, but like, it will not have been our fault  It will have been--if it will have been our fault, it will have been everyone's fault, certainly not equally, but it will have been everone's fault because there isn't a way to use these platforms, like, in terms of like, creating--I don't, maybe there is, but like, I think it's very hard to use these platforms in a way that is actually constructive to society or to the self, but like, that's also an extremely biased perspective of like, a person who has a very particular kind of interaction with the platforms, like, a person with like, a following of stuff, so like, obviously it's very different to use these platforms if you are just interacting with like, friend group and what I want to see is that more.  

 (20:00) to (22:00)


Like, that's the actual value of these--I wanna see scientists Tweeting about science.  I wanna see public health specialists Tweeting about public health and like, city planners Tweeting about city planning, but right now, everybody is Tweeting about like,  fucking catastrophes and coups and Donald Trump and like, nobody's Tweeting about the, like, their things, and of course we are, but that's not just this week.  That's been like, a trend that has been increasing for four years where like, everybody is here to talk about the hottest thing and like, I don't like--what I want is friends talking to each other about friend stuff and butterfly enthusiasts talking to each other about butterfly stuff, and I feel like that has been dropped to some extent, because like, we are in a catastrophe but it is also a catastrophe that is of social media's making to some extent.

Now, I'm not saying that like, Donald Trump isn't responsible.  Of course he is.  I just don't think he could have done his like, manifestation of his narcissism in the same way without a sort of like, direct ego-feeding, like, authentic direct connection, like, like, if Donald Trump had a YouTube that he edited and like, uploaded the videos himself, that's the equivalent.  If--he--like, if Donald Trump isn't a YouTuber.  He has a YouTube channel and like, like, they, like, somebody on his team uploads videos to YouTube.  

 (22:00) to (23:51)


Donald Trump is not a YouTuber where he like, is doing what I'm doing.  Like, if he did this, he would be so dangerous.  Like, way--even more dangerous than he is right now, because this is actually a more compelling platform, I think, than Twitter, though, though, there are ways in which Twitter is actually and probably was better for him because it--it was--it's so much easier to amplify just, just shit, just the worst stuff on Twitter than on YouTube, both because like, things are so snippetized and also because reactions to bad takes make the bad takes go viral on Twitter in a way that it doesn't--that doesn't happen as much anyway or anymore as it--on YouTube  

Anyway, that's a lot to talk about.  I have to go get lunch and go to work now, but  I wanted to have that conversation and go through it all, 'cause I--but what I don't want you to think is that like, because you're on social media, you're a shitty person or that like, but like, I--do expect that when you're in your 60s and 70s, people are gonna like, look at the way we behaved in these years, hopefully, again, and say, eugh, aw, what the fuck where you thinking?  That's what I think.  That's what I mean really is like, there were all kinds of reasons why people smoked and it just turned out that they were, they were all bad in a way that this won't have been all bad, but they will look at us and they will think it was all bad, because of the effects it will have had.  I think!  What the fuck do I know!