Forum Comments

Language and Terminology in Propaganda and Discussions
In Politics
Heidi
May 31, 2021
Hi Artxmis! I appreciate you bringing up this topic cause I think that delivery of a view, regardless of the content substance therein being explained, can really make or break a person's perception of that view for better or for worse. That is, sometimes people will downright ignore or aggressively refuse a stance/what's being said simply because they didn't like how it was said (more on this later) or labelled (or form preconceived judgments/stereotypes from their own experiences about your opinions based on what you labelled yourself as). THAT SAID, I don't think potential offense to others is reason to change delivery, sometimes what's gotta be said needs to be said brazenly, but it may be in your benefit in other circumstances to modify your technique for maximally effective response. When it comes to the average person, I've found in my personal experience that use of much of the commonplace labelling terminology we use to discuss these nuanced topics -eg authoritarianism, primitivism, fascism- can get too niche for those not super well versed in the language and lend towards a feeling of preclusion from the conversation -ie, that they can't really have a seat at the table of discussion because it is too distant/abstract/inaccessible for them to engage. I hear tinges of this mentality frequently in discussion with new people that seem to dismiss themselves from a conversation because they hear a lot of these words thrown around and aren't totally a 100% sure what they mean so just kinda tap themselves out both externally (stop engaging in discussion or don't even bother to start engaging) and internally (don't think further about these topics because they've written them off as too polarized/abstract for their current knowledge pool). What's really damaging about this is that it frequently manifests as a self-limiting mentality/excuse that people fall back on to keep them from investigating new ideas critically for themselves, because they feel internally that it requires some kind of elite prerequisite training/rigor to learn the vocabulary that they can't even dare to presume that they may be able to engage in the discussions, now or even ever.** Sorta like a self-esteem thing in a way that they start to A) accept that your stance might probably be right because they don't know enough about the topic to be able to talk about it or form an opinion for themselves or B) vehemently object your stance (ego self defense) that you are certainly so very wrong but they can't explain/articulate to you why exactly it is you are wrong right now because they don't know enough of your fancy words to be able to explain but you're still wrong. I feel like the environment for these strong reactions often forms spontaneously and accidentally amongst people like us with strong beliefs because often times people who do have strong beliefs about these topics are used to discussing them extensively with others who have similarly vested passion and thus have a familiarity with/mutual understanding of the language involved. I've noticed this in my own circles/friend groups, and seen that unless you're careful to the contrary, what this translates to is that when you talk to other people you kinda subconsciously assume they know the nuances of the words you're using (because you're used to your friends knowing them) and can miss the target with the person in front of you and turn them off from the topic entirely. I've had to catch myself when using what to me is regular vocabulary I normally use when the language seems to not be registering with the person in front of me. I think at the end of the day it's really a matter of gauging and assessing your audience for each individualized circumstance -which is definitely a skill easier said than done. When it comes to trying to express/share my ideas with wider populations, I think ascription to a Socratic approach to dialogue, while starting at a point of familiarity with your audience, is most effective. For some people, opening with a labeling of yourself as "luddite" or "anarchist" can be polarizing and make the subject matter feel inaccessible; or taint their image of you with their own preconceived stereotypes about what you have identified as. So, we can try to open up the convo in other ways. I with the subject of anti-tech particularly, you don't really need to use labels or terminology to try to reach people on most of the beliefs you may be trying to express. Everybody is constantly faced with technology in varying capacities, so I think a strong point for opening up discussion lies in the game of identifying those familiarities / your audience's personal engagement with technology and using that as a jumping board to segue into conversations about a variety of anti tech things. I've found that starting simple is ideal, and people usually already have already formed their own opinions on these things before you even asked them (the roles of devils advocate and intuitive listening can come strong in your favor). Another thing you can do is cloak one of your core beliefs in a very common seemingly innocent sentiment piece (sorta like a fashion statement haha); you'd be surprised how much the simple statement, "it worries me how much kids are on their phones these days" or can open up a floodgate of anti tech discussion, led by your very own audience themselves (NOT YOU!) that's the key to successful socratic method; getting your person to lead the discussion then once they've given you a plethora of what is already in itself face value super anti -tech or whatever belief you're trying to pose, show them how that belief actually is anti-tech or whatever. The trick is to meet them where they're at and get them to take themselves where you want them to go with thoughtful questioning and probing. Saying a simple "I wonder if staying my computer screen is messing with my vision" can easily start a discussion about the effects of technology on health; or "it frustrates me working inside all day because it's so beautiful out" can start a convo about how technology has separated us from nature. The possibilities are endless because the relevance is so very apparent in an abundance of every day things. People don't need to be well versed in language or terminology of political science or familiar with the history of Luddism etc (even if they think they do) to be able to agree with and articulate how they have issues with technology and advance conversation beyond that into the depths of technological consequences. In fact I've found that some of the best interlocutors about anti-tech stuff are children -they are some of the best able to identify and comment on basic technological grievances despite (perhaps in light of) having no formal background or understanding of the language, labelling, or historicity behind these subjects. The beauty (and perhaps also the tragedy) of it all is that technological issues are all too common and accessible to humanity, and that anyone at any level of interlocution can intelligently discuss and comment on the technological plight -it's just a matter of helping them realize it sometimes. So I guess my long story short personal method is : less labels (cause they can be unintentionally divisive/separativist) and there’s so much that speaks for itself labels aren’t even really necessary :) you play around and find what works best for you
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Is technology neutral?
In FAQ
Heidi
May 10, 2021
One of my basic arguments goes as follows: In order for technology to be neutral it would have to be optional. Technology is not at all optional anymore. Therefore technology is not neutral. Framed this way, the conversation is no longer abstract. It's really just a matter of debating the truth of premise 2. Investigation of which is quickly revelatory.. This excerpt from ISAIF is an easy gateway into this conversation so I'll just leave that below for now. PS: this is interesting to think of in the current events context of discussion surrounding vaccine mandates/passports; re governmental/abstract entity control over bodily autonomy. ..................................................................................................................................................... "TECHNOLOGY IS A MORE POWERFUL SOCIAL FORCE THAN THE ASPIRATION FOR FREEDOM. ​ ​ A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared to increase man’s freedom. They took no freedom away from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel much faster and farther than a walking man. But the introduction of motorized transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly man’s freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car, especially in densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one likes at one’s own pace one’s movement is governed by the flow of traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration, insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation. Or else they must use public transportation, in which case they have even less control over their own movement than when driving a car. Even the walker’s freedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he continually has to stop to wait for traffic lights that are designed mainly to serve auto traffic. In the country, motor traffic makes it dangerous and unpleasant to walk along the highway. (Note this important point that we have just illustrated with the case of motorized transport: When a new item of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)"
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Is technology neutral?
In FAQ
Heidi
Jan 22, 2021
So there's obviously a big discussion to be had about this, but as it relates to current events: Not sure if it's just me, but I feel like regardless of your political opinion, the recent events online and with big social media platforms surrounding the presidential election have made it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that the most basic technology that is the internet is FAR from neutral. I think this is something that has been going on for a long time, especially in terms of information and news -- but the censorship and biasing has now become so blatant and forefront that they aren't even trying to hide it anymore. Twitter, google, facebook, you name it have all invoked violations to "Terms of Use and Policy" to deplatform and silence someone holding the most powerful public political office in the United States while he was still in office. When attempts were made to create another app (Parler) to protect free discussion (or so they claimed), Apple removed that app from the App store for "violating Apple's rules against objectionable content." There has been a clear Big Tech alliance to silence DT to point that he went from being one of the largest internet presences in the world to having absolutely no voice in just a matter of mere days, all because they all agreed to take his mic away. It's as if he doesn't exist now. Now, regardless of your opinion about DT, the fact that Big Tech is so monopolized to the point that they can take the loudest man on the internet and muzzle him completely in one swift motion, with absolutely no way for you to hear from him otherwise, speaks to a frighteningly blatant NON-NEUTRALITY rampant within these technological platforms. Replace him with anyone you want --if they were able to silence this dude who was so prominent (for better or worse), do any of us really have a chance at "neutral" treatment? Who decides what defines "objectionable content"? Do we trust that the people making these decisions are looking out for our best interest? That they A) care about the best interest in others or B) have the means to even comprehend what that could be? Don't they have the same power of what ideas/information/judgements show up at the top of the page when you make a Google search? Can you ever have any semblance of "neutrality" in a process that tends towards full monopolization? Or is any decision a social media CEO makes inherently not-neutral? With that much power, is neutrality even at all theoretically possible in any capacity?
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Heidi
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