The End of Social Media: #Mefree

Too Right
A regular column by John Black
The Black Sheep Blog
Rightminds

In the great works of dystopic fiction, 1984, Brave New World, and Robo Cop 3: He’s Back To Lay Down The Law, the state looms large as the enemy of liberty. It is not mere coincidence that parts of the world deprived of the influence of these seminal works either through censorship or in the case of Robocop3, terrible sound dubbing, have seen state power at its most intrusive. The absence of fictional examples of the totalitarian nightmare smooths the way for the real thing. Myanmar which banned 1984 until recently, still has a ‘Ministry of Information’ that could well have been modelled on the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in Orwell’s novel. China’s ‘One Child’ policy has been as restrictive of human reproductive freedom as anything found in Brave New World.

And Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte thinks he actually is Robocop.

These fictions are but part of a larger cultural inheritance characteristic of Western Civilization: the concern for personal liberty.

Just why this obsession developed solely in the West is much in dispute, but the argument with the most weight is also the least fashionable.

Religion.

Or at least our particular brand of it.

In just two years the Chinese government plans to have 400 million cameras trained on its own citizens. Social infractions caught on camera or passed on by informers will be compiled and used as the basis for a system of ‘Social Credit’. In China, the desire to play the Bee Gees at high volume at 3 am on a Tuesday morning would have repercussions beyond questions of musical taste. You could find yourself blacklisted from public transport, unable to get a bank loan or even a job. That’s a high price to pay for ‘How Deep Is Your Love’.

The influence of Confucian authoritarianism means that in China the state defines personal virtue – a tendency that has flourished under sixty odd years of Communism. In the West, however, personal conscience has often developed contra the state, through the competing claims of temporal and spiritual authority that has marked the development of Christianity. When your King and your Pope can’t agree on who the real boss is, you may well decide you are. That restraints on personal behaviour should come from within rather than without has been the ideal in the Judeo-Christian West.

However, the current threat to this glorious Western tradition of personal liberty comes not from the state but from our fellow citizens, through the madness that is ‘Social Media’.

Today, the power of the established churches is ebbing and personal religious belief is fast evaporating, but in their place has come a new dogma preached by a new clergy and with its own heresies. The spectacle of a Social Justice Warrior in a flight of Twitterian outrage evokes the hellfire preachers of the past, spewing their sulphurous sermons at a glassy-eyed congregation.

This ‘woke’ cadre of metropolitan mind meddlers patrol their flock on the lookout for thought-crime with every inch the sanctimonious authority of their clerical brothers and sisters of ages past.

Late last year across the ditch The Herald Sun’s cartoonist Mark Knight had the inquisitorial thumb screws applied. Doing nothing but his job, to caricature humanity through exaggeration and artful distortion, Mr Knight, when drawing the tennis star Serena Williams managed to provoke one of the high priestesses of the woke elite.

J.K Rowling, perhaps at a loose end after selling her 20 million dollar yacht replete with five bedrooms and a home cinema, took the time to accuse Mr Knight’s cartoon of two of the new seven deadly sins, Racism and Sexism (The others in case you are wondering are the three ‘phobias’, homo, trans and Islamo, plus ableism and climate scepticism).

A social media ‘mob’ acts with about as much restraint as ‘the mob’, their horse’s-head-in-the-bed is the attempt to get you fired. More recently Rugby player Israel Folau was asked a question and gave an honest answer. The mistake he made was giving it on Instagram. Believing that sinners of all persuasions face eternal punishment just doesn’t wash with the bien pensants. Thanks to the hysterical reaction online and his admirable refusal to back down, the man has had his livelihood taken from him. As his most vociferous critics are avowed atheists the only Hell they are really concerned with here is the one they are trying to put him and his wife through. 

As Edmund Burke wrote and Mr Knight and Mr Folau no doubt felt, ‘The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.’

The authoritarian state of China, zealously rooting out all dissent, is unnecessary in the West; through social media the populace is doing an excellent job of ridding itself of heterodox opinion.

It is beyond ironic that online platforms designed for the expression of opinions have so heartily amplified the tendency to repress them. Freedom of speech and expression is dying at the very point in time when we have the greatest means to speak and express our ideas.

So what can be done? A cultural rearming using the classic works in defence of liberty? Sure, I’d like to recommend Milton’s Areopagitica, but I can’t pronounce the thing.

I prefer a quicker more radical solution:  A voluntary disengagement from all social media. Millennials seem to be up for it. Frustrated by data mining and constant marketing, they are deleting their Facebook accounts in droves. Twitter, once as popular with millennials as overly manicured beards and vaping, has lost 100 million daily ’tweeters’ in six years.

Let’s make the next popular ‘hashtag’ retweeted around the twittersphere, the very last. One that will bring the whole edifice of browbeating, conformist, finger-wagging social media down. Humanity’s kiss-off to an experiment that only did us harm. A clarion call to once more retreat into our shells, free to think and act how we wish. A rebirth of mind-your-own-bloody business and an end to #thatsracist, #staywoke and #metoo.

Goodbye Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest.

#mefree.

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