Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

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When opinions become plagues…

October 26, 2016

the real problem is diagnostics…

Sometimes I shake my head so hard and roll my eyes so vigorously when reading the morning “news” that it takes awhile for things to achieve enough equilibrium for me to scratch out some kind of response. This being the onset of the crescendo stage of an historically nasty election year, among other things, the fodder can be overwhelming at times.

Issues concerning intercultural conflicts within our society, particularly those involving persons of African heritage, have been nearly as prolific as those of a more purely political nature, though the two are certainly enmeshed. An article earlier this month about official reactions to remarks posted on a social media site by a University of Virginia adjunct professor is s case in point.

The most stunning aspect of the statement by University of Virginia adjunct professor Douglas Muir that the Black Lives Matter movement is racist like the Klu Klux Klan (sic) was not that he said it. What should be of concern is the official response to the statement. The college powers-that-be were quick to pull a “Professor WHO?” maneuver, while local politicians didn’t waste any time letting the PC Police know where they stood, or more accurately, where they knelt.

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy was quoted as puffing that the professor’s comments were “…not only incredibly misguided, but goes to show the lack of cultural awareness that still plagues many professors at our Universities across the country .”

What? A college professor disagreeing with the mainstream is indicative of a “lack of cultural awareness ,” and this condition is now a plague ? And whose approval is now required before those who are tasked with providing our future leaders with critical thinking skills and the courage to think outside of the box can practice those skills themselves? Or is thinking outside of the officially endorsed box now considered a crime? If so, by whom, and by what authority? More importantly, perhaps, would be the ultimate level of force planned to keep this idiotic idea on track, and what potential consequences are being considered for those who have the courage and personal integrity to laugh in its face.

I won’t enter the back and forth about “Black Lives Matter” or any of the other current assembly line issues and their prescribed emoticons. There is already a surplus of Pig Beauticians and their polar opposites in that arena, dressing things up and dressing things down. My interest is in the herd behavior so evident in our society today. This obsession with hyper-unity is reminiscent of other times in human history when the tides of liberty have retreated to extraordinary levels in preparation for an ensuing tsunami of oppression. The scary part is that such a tsunami is coming. The scarier part is that the tide went out, way out, a long time ago.

Cartoon character Pogo famously observed decades ago that “ we have met the enemy and he is us .” Perhaps the current manifestation of this poignant folk wisdom would be “ we have predicted the future, and it is now .”

Bellamy, of course, is entitled to his opinion, but those in positions of political authority and power are not entitled to suppress the opinions of others, though it would seem he might believe otherwise.

It would be appropriate, on the other hand, for him to disagree while at the same time defending the professor’s constitutional right to opine as he sees fit.

Similarly, the college should be defending the right….or better yet, the duty… to disagree. After all, if it wasn’t for the right to disagree under protection of the First Amendment, “Black Lives Matter” would not exist in the first place.

Tom Katsouleas, University of Virginia executive VP and Provost remarked, officially, that “ The University of Virginia stands firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind….Statements such as Mr. Muir’s do not foster intellectual exploration, nor do they encourage the voices of others.”

And just what, sir, does your condemnation of free speech foster?

“Racism” is the Hackneyed Term of the Day , and for Katsouleas to censure Muir’s disharmonic observation in defense of “intellectual exploration” would be hilariously ridiculous if it hadn’t been issued authoritatively and with a straight face.

The concept of racism is one of a behavioral nature. It makes no anthropological distinction as to who is qualified to be a perpetrator and who might be considered a victim. Yet somehow, in order to be “politically correct”, or in other words, to be deemed morally acceptable , one must apply such arbitrary standards as though they were indisputable. The irony of such hypocrisy is both endemic to the self-anointed Priests of Political Correctness , and completely lost upon them.

Another aspect of the incident that is characteristic of the New Social Ethic is the fact that Professor Muir made his comment on a Social Media posting and not in his capacity as an instructor on University time. That no longer matters, apparently. Employers routinely haunt the social media, right along with the NSA, et al, to make their lists of who is naughty and who is nice. If they had pawed through your trash, tapped your phone, and read your mail in pre-internet times just to see who you hung out with, your tastes in literature, underwear size, and so forth they’d be in jail, or at least on “that” undesirable list.

It troubles me to read about the constriction of academia. I remember the University as a place where bizarre and even rebellious ideas were usually tolerated. When people disagreed or sang out of tune beyond certain limits, the government sent soldiers and tanks, but the institutions of higher learning stayed out of it as long as general school policies weren’t violated. Tanks and soldiers were certainly inappropriate, even “un-American” in many views, but for the traditional guardians of creativity, out of the box thinking, and intellectual liberty to mechanically attempt to spew shame on those who decline to think and speak according to PC guidelines is just as objectionable.

Some of my most effective instructors were those who weren’t afraid to offer their own views on things and to encourage the same from their students. They were about teaching, and doing it in their own unique ways.

I was fortunate to have been taught and invited to think by some pretty engaging academicians who weren’t distracted by transient social issues unless they were material to the subject being taught. They were about knowledge and creativity , and were more likely to study discord and unrest than to judge them.

Teaching by rote and according to narrow, prescribed viewpoints may facilitate the amassing of large amounts of data, perhaps, but “wisdom” cannot be taught. Students must be exposed to situations where they can acquire it. Disallowing thought and expression outside of the parameters of the “Politically Correct” lines disallows the acquisition of wisdom.

As is not infrequently the case, the rebels of yesterday seem to have become the cultural tyrants of today. I hope the young adults who will soon be the decision makers and leaders demonstrate more wisdom than some are so vigorously working to deny them.

 

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Facebook rivals NSA

February 13, 2015

when it comes to intrusiveness ….

Here’s a tip for Facebook:

I am not likely to know someone just because the third cousin of my next door neighbor drove by the sob’s house a week ago Tuesday. You needn’t run that non-stop scroll of people I “might know” down the side of my page. It looks like a national telephone directory. In fact, I sometimes suspect it IS, and that the third cousin of my next door neighbor doesn’t even drive. Please stop. If I DO know any of them, I have probably already decided NOT to “friend”, contact, or give them digital noogies, or HAVE done so only to be summarily blown off. Long lost acquaintances who wish to contact me have numerous options for attempting to do so, and vice versa. Butt out. Stop playing yenta. It’s annoying.

Another tip:

I’m not sure about how Facebook started out, and it’s not an important enough piece of information for me to sacrifice any scratching or yawning time to chase down possible explanations. However, I do have some knowledge and a few opinions about what I have observed since I decided to see what it was all about a few years ago. I found the venue to be annoying from the start, but the amusement factor kept me around long enough to be reminded of that childhood story involving a feisty rabbit and a tar baby. Therefore, I can appreciate the brilliance of the marketing plan, which obviously works quite well if the journalistic borborygmus of various news and feature writers tattling about Mr. Zuckerberg’s finances are any indication.

Nevertheless, those of us who enjoy the interaction facilitated between selected friends and family members may not be particularly amused, impressed, or anything but severely annoyed by the mandatory process of wading through an incessant “opt out” gauntlet on the way to our preferred connections.

I click on the little “x” to make the grey silhouette and empty data set of someone I “might know” disappear, and a new one takes its place. Once I manage to clear the board, and sometimes right in the middle of the process, I get slapped with a multiple choice quizzie regarding my reasons for rejecting my gifts. If I don’t just ignore it and move on without answering, I normally choose “sexually explicit”.

I never play games. I don’t like those games. Facebook provides no options to inform them of that so I can “opt out” and avoid being pummeled on a daily basis with information and invitations I didn’t ask for, am not interested in, and for which the statistical probability of my responding to is zero.

x, x, x, x, x, …………..

One afternoon not long ago, I was “Googling” information about a figure of English nobility from several centuries ago in order to cross-check my assertions in something I was writing about. I made note of what I had learned and then moved on to Facebook to see if any new pictures of my grandson had been posted. In addition to the anticipated pictures and the other usual fare discussed previously, I was provided with a cascade of ads and focused info-blurbs from book sellers, genealogy purveyors, and recommendations for a dozen or so “groups” or pages I should visit. Good grief! It was like I’d been diagnosed as OCD with a Medieval history fixation and Facebook was playing doctor.

“Who the hell asked you?” I mumbled.

I haven’t had anyone read over my shoulder like that since I was caught reading a raunchy magazine stashed in my open notebook during an Elizabethan literature class back in college.

I recall thinking it was fortunate I hadn’t been indulging a blip of curiosity regarding exotic weapons, explosives, or the Arabic language. On second thought, I may just do that this afternoon just for the heck of it and to see what happens. I wonder if I should warn my neighbors first. There are a lot of kids running around out there, and the poor guy across the street always wears black, has flags all over the place, and signs on his house warning about an Armed Veteran residing within. If a chopper shows up and hovers over my yard to deploy a bunch of heavily armed guys in camouflage, I’m afraid he might just go off his nut. On third thought, maybe I should research something a little more benign. On fourth thought, ……

 

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