Author Topic: Scott Alexander on the Internet Culture in the Early Smartphone Era  (Read 555 times)


  • Citizens
    Voting Member
  • Posts: 635
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
    • Awards
The Rise and Fall of Online Culture Wars (Substack)

I saw some of the weird things he talks about, but my point of view was more "a strange new culture of mockery and soundbites appears and is embraced by the Old Media.  At the same time, many influential Americans on the Internet are recruited for faction fights within the richest third of the US and turn their spaces into weapons in these fights.  Most foreigners and many sensible Americans lose interest and quietly stop posting or rebrand themselves, while these spaces start to devour themselves.  From 2016 onwards, the US begins to wobble from its dominant position in Internet culture while squeezing its fist tighter and tighter on corporate social media."  So I would not try to talk about the alt-right as if it were just a US phenomenon, or feminism on the Internet as if it was not there from the beginning!  His essay is very parochial!

One reason I keep writing on my site is not to concede talking about ideas on the Internet to the twitter-lovers and the LessWrong types and the people who spent too much time on tumblr.

My heart assumes that if people write or lecture gladly and confidently on a subject, they have verifiable expertise in it and have given it serious thought.  My mind has trouble convincing it that most of these people just have the gift for gab or are emitting talking points given to them by someone in their faction.  I don't get confused this way face to face, its easier to understand when someone is just playing with ideas or working through them (so I should ask some gentle questions) and when I should shut up and listen and when they are trying to sell something and I need to deflate their nonsense.

Also, I'm confused by the paragraphs about the rise of images accusing critics of belonging to some un-cool group, because yes it was annoying and poisomed some spaces, but does anyone serious take that kind of ad hominem seriously?  Some people use it when goofing off, but I am trying to think of someone thoughtful using that kind of rhetoric in public.  And insulting people rather than engage with their arguments is a very old move in rhetoric.  I would not treat it as a cultural change on the level of the Old Media going from erasing the open Internet to treating tweets as Very Serious Sources.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2021, 01:19:55 AM by dubsartur »