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April 17, 2017

Has Silicon Valley Hacked Our Culture?

Great piece by Jim Geraghty, picking up Jason Whitlock's claim that the media has shifted hard to the left due to the influence of the tech bazillionaires turning all "news" into outrage clickbait to drive their revenues.

The old journalism saying, "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" implied punching up; the more powerful you were, the more you needed scrutiny. For Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, My Lai, all that the press needed to do was expose the wrongdoing and the public would instinctively recoil and dole out appropriate consequences.

Today's social-media outrage-mob-driven click-bait journalism is much more about punching down, finding someone who has deviated from the range of acceptable thought and ostracizing them and enforcing the tenets of a shame culture. It's less about exposing the sins of the powerful than exposing the sins of the near-powerless, whether it's those gorillas-in-the-mist reports from Red State America or gleeful exposes about the hypocrisies of religious conservatives. (The hypocrisy of a self-proclaimed environmentalist who enjoys a private jet with a massive carbon footprint never quite stirs the hearts of the media as much as a preacher's affair.)

Geraghty links this to a Silicon Valley defector who noted this about tech culture:

He said that Silicon Valley’s ethos allows startup founders to easily justify their quick riches. "To maintain this status of extreme income and outcome inequality you have to think that somehow the moral universe conspired to make you a billionaire and the other guy not," he said.

I've heard (or thought) the same thing about big-dollar Hollywood actors: They feel a bit guilty about having wealth, status and privilege in such excess, and so they hew hard to progressive religious morality, which helps them cope in three different ways:

1, it tells them they're deserving of their good fortune by virtue of having so much virtue already, and

2, it gives them the chance to "Earn this," as Tom Hanks told Private Ryan. They can partly "earn" their good fortune by evangelizling their religion of progressivism, and

3, it helps them deflect attention -- both public attention and their own attention -- from the fact that if privilege exists at all in this world, they are the primary beneficiaries of that white, male, cis, upper middle class, etc., privilege.

It always shocks me that when a media personality (or, ahem, former media personality) like Keith Olbermann posts a picture of his staff, it's almost entirely white. Like he's not even trying to achieve even the illusion of diversity.

It strikes me that some of the guys who scream the loudest about the need for other people to #PracticeDiversity are doing so precisely because they know they've made almost no effort themselves to do so. Just like Al Gore needs you to cut back on carbon emissions so that he can keep living his luxe carbon-generating lifestyle.


Good Morning Jolt. Thanks to @ArthurK for sending it my way.


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posted by Ace at 05:33 PM

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