If there is a commonality between natural wine and “the vegan movement”…, it is that people who do not participate in them overstate the influence and strength of both of these concepts. They are threatening because of the perceived “aggression” of the believers, forcing bottles imported by Jenny & Francois and Impossible Burgers down everyone’s throats! (This is not happening.)
Tag: systemic change
Protest as public nuisance
Yasmine Ahmed, the UK director of Human Rights Watch, condemned the arrests. “The reports of people being arrested for peacefully protesting [against] the coronation are incredibly alarming. This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London. Peaceful protests allow individuals to hold those in power to account, something the UK government seems increasingly averse to,” she said.
Nuisance is used to suppress protest the way niceness is used to suppress and avoid addressing complaints of racism and sexism.
They’re so close to right
The idea that rich, powerful people are happy to enact extremely invasive, restrictive rules that they are not in any way bound by isn’t wrong. It’s actually very, very right… powerful people know better than to let a good crisis go to waste.
My QAnon relative keeps saying, follow the money. Yet he won’t follow the money to Trump or Clarence Thomas or whoever paid off that other dickbag Justice’s loans. This is (part of) why I hate Joe Manchin: I followed the money to his coal plant and watched him put his personal financial interests over the future habitability of the planet. I recognize that there is corruption of the elite class, but it’s certainly not limited to Democrats like he thinks. And when I follow the money at the big picture, I see it flowing away from people, to corporations, where it’s concentrated in the hands of mega wealthy executives.
Hiding the harm
…[F]ears about so-called AIs eventually exceeding their creators’ abilities and taking over the world function to obfuscate the very real harm these machines are doing right now, to people that are alive today.
Another way this story works is that it embeds a notion of a hierarchy of intelligence within it… embedded within the dominant notion of intelligence is the assertion that certain kinds of intelligence are gendered and racialized, and therefore inferior.
To expand on this, the fear that some people may lose their superior status to a machine is the same fear that they may lose it to people they already deem inferior. It’s part and parcel of a blowback against human rights being extended to Black people, to women, to trans folks, to the disabled, to everyone they long assumed was deservedly less worthy (of money, care, attention, or respect) than themselves.
Ooh pulling it all together 👀
At one time, Medium was the place I visited to discover new ideas and fresh writers.
I don’t know what it’s like on other people’s feeds, of course. But when I visit the feed of articles that Medium suggests to me today, I’m not just underwhelmed. I’m often appalled.
While there is a straightforward meaning to the message contained by the medium, the medium itself contributes another message. That second message, and for McLuhan, the more influential of the two, is character.
The medium conveys both the straightforward message and a certain character that informs how we relate to it.
Williams dreamed of making Medium synonymous with quality, depth, and thoughtfulness. But the message Medium delivers today colors many of its posts as clickbaity and attention-seeking.
Articles like the ones I listed above…aren’t meant to be examined in detail, either. They’re designed to create a certain effect: i.e., conveying the appearance of expertise, usefulness, and/or value.
Yes! This puts a finger on what bothers me about so much headline writing, and so many articles: I can tell from the title of the post that it will be substanceless. Somehow, there will be a 1000+ word article composed of nothingness, from which I’ll learn and recall precisely nothing.
So much online writing circles around the same type of mildly repellant business productivity and creativity advice — all selling the get rich quick mentality with a recipe for success. In a capitalist world, that story has draw — we are all busting our asses and getting nowhere. Yet it’s terminally empty; a few words of advice cannot change a system, and probably also can’t help most people get ahead in that system.
The internet has become a diluted sea of bland 101 content, quoting the same sources, adding the same vapid life stories to try to force personal connection. Everyone desperately signalling, a twisted capitalist version of mating signals: pick me! Pick me! The textual equivalent of a ruff of fluorescent feathers, the payoff receiving work rather than passing on genes: individual survival, not reproduction. It reminds me of the proposal to eliminate mosquitoes by releasing sterile males into the wild to breed with the females, burning out their reproductive lifespans. We’re distracted by the overwhelming drone of valueless, impersonal writing: junk food of the mind.
So now, writers need to learn how to signal the opposite to discerning readers: to promise something worthwhile and convince people to read without looking like content mill pablum. To demonstrate respect for readers’ time, to offer real connection, to write and share something worth the reading. This is the slow path, the path of patience, requiring a long-term commitment to the practice of writing and thinking.
We need to stop relying on the compassion of individuals but instead build compassionate systems.
We must not mistake Ethical Consumption—a private act—for political power or organized, collective social change that benefits everyone.
The pandemic finally forced me to confront the failures of three decades of this market-driven approach to change. I have started to wonder not only if Ethical Consumerism is ineffective, but also, whether it’s actually getting people killed and driving our planet to ruin, and why we continue to throw our power away on ethical shopping.
Even though it’s mostly progressives who identify as Ethical Consumers, as Teachout illuminates, making change through the way we shop is ultimately a right-wing idea. We’ve fully embraced the neoliberal system and worldview that change should happen through the marketplace.
But where we get ourselves into trouble is in viewing shopping as a moral act—and viewing shopping at a cheap chainstore that has poor business practices as an immoral one. Consumption is an economic imperative (there’s no escaping it under capitalism), and it is fundamentally determined by our income. Unless we believe that rich people, who can afford more ethical products, are somehow more ethical than the rest of us, we must confront that it’s unacceptable and arguably deeply unethical itself to ever tie human “goodness” to what we buy.
— Elizabeth L. Cline
Lately have been thinking a lot about how we try to make ourselves feel better and get better outcomes for ourselves through our consumer choices — from “ethical consumption” to rich white parents sending their kids to private school instead of the public school.
We put our own feelings first instead of advocating for change for everyone, which is harder. And when we feel good about the consumer choices we’ve made, we feel less urgency to push for systemic change. My privilege is buying my complacency with the system.
As someone who’s devoted my whole career to the environment, and leads environmental messaging in my local government, this is a tricky thing to sell, especially in my well-off community.