Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that consumerism and social media have on our lives. Distorted self-image, an unhealthy need for social acceptance, and too much focus on material values are just some examples.
But have you ever thought about the ways the consumer society alters our perception of other people? It turns out that our approach to friendships and relationships gets affected too, whether we realize it or not.
Consumerism and social media are indeed killing the value of friendship in today’s society and here is how:
1. The cult of fakeness
The desire to be likable and make a good impression on others has always been in our nature. But it’s thanks to social media that it has transformed into an unhealthy craving for attention that skirts the edge of addiction.
It seems that too many people nowadays are trying to look perfect in the eyes of others. And I’m not talking only about the physical looks. What we see today is an ever-consuming need to demonstrate that you are living a perfect life, have a perfect marriage, and are a perfect person.
And this unhealthy craving for perfection and acceptance goes much further than sharing our photoshopped selfies with our Instagram followers. This obsession with being liked by everyone has left its mark on our attitudes in real life too.
Being fake nice is considered to be more normal than being blunt and honest. We are supposed to smile at everyone, be friendly, and have small talk regardless of our real feelings about the people we are talking to. We are expected to be perfectly nice.
This approach can help you make a good impression on others and form superficial connections with other people, but it can’t lead you to meaningful, true friendships. So if you feel like you have no real friends, it could be that you don’t give others the chance to get to know the real you.
A certain degree of fakeness has always been a part of polite social behavior, but thanks to social media, we can now see it in its most grotesque forms.
2. The “give and take” approach to relationships
The consumer mindset has taken roots in our ways of thinking on so many levels. We have learned to see everything – and sadly, everyone – as objects of consumption without even realizing it.
This is why so many people today have a “give and take” approach to romantic and friendly relationships. Or, rather, a “take” approach.
It seems that they know exactly what they want, expect, and need from others. But are they willing to do anything for their fellow human beings too? Not quite. Generations of “takers” nurtured by the consumer society have mastered the art of putting themselves first no matter what.
Even though the skill of putting yourself first and setting strong boundaries can be useful in life, there also comes a time when your friends might need your help and support.
Real friendships are much more than joking around and having fun. They are based on a genuine connection, meaningful communication, and reciprocated interest. It seems that this meaning of friendship is slowly getting lost in our society.
3. Everyone is replaceable
One more way the consumer mindset distorts our perception of relationships is that we no longer really value other people – just as we don’t value things.
Consumerism and the abundance of goods trick us into believing that everything (and everyone) is replaceable.
70 years ago, you would most probably have your kettle repaired if it broke down. Now, you get yourself a new one. This way of thinking goes beyond our attitude to objects though. Many of us, especially younger generations, fall for the misconception that people are replaceable too.
Why put effort into a friendship or relationship, overcome difficulties together, or support each other when things get tough? It’s easier to be with someone who is convenient and doesn’t cause problems. After all, if it doesn’t work out with a friend or lover, we can always move on to someone else and try again.
Sadly, this is quite a prevalent way of thinking in today’s world.
To sum up, the consumer society we live in doesn’t teach us to value what we have – be it things or people. This inevitably leaves its mark on our view of life, including our relationships with other people.
Do you agree that the value of friendship is getting lost in modern society? Please share your thoughts with us!
The Pendulum of Internet Censorship Swings Leftward Again
There has been a purge of left-wing accounts from social media, with socialist organizations being targeted on Facebook and multiple Antifa-associated accounts suspended from Twitter.
“We have just confirmed that Facebook has disabled the page of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at the University of Michigan, as well as the accounts of all admins,” World Socialist Website editor tweeted today. “This is an unprecedented attack on the speech rights of an official campus student group.”
World Socialist Website also reports the following:
On Friday, Facebook carried out a purge of left-wing, antiwar and progressive pages and accounts, including leading members of the Socialist Equality Party. Facebook gave no explanation why the accounts were disabled or even a public acknowledgement that the deletions had occurred.
At least a half dozen leading members of the Socialist Equality Party had their Facebook accounts permanently disabled. This included the public account of Genevieve Leigh, the national secretary of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, and the personal account of Niles Niemuth, the US managing editor of the World Socialist Web Site. In 2016, Niemuth was the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US Vice President.
Facebook also disabled the London Bus Drivers Rank-and-File Committee Facebook page, which was set up with the support of the Socialist Equality Party (UK) to organize opposition among bus drivers. This follows a widely discussed call for a walkout by bus drivers to demand elementary protections against the COVID-19 pandemic.
None of the individuals whose accounts were disabled had violated Facebook’s policies. Upon attempting to appeal the deletion of their account, they received an error message stating, “We cannot review the decision to disable your account.”
The New York Post reports the following:
Twitter has suspended several popular accounts with alleged ties to Antifa — which have more than 71,000 followers combined — following the Inauguration Day riots.
At least four accounts tied with the militant group have been yanked offline — including @TheBaseBK, the account for the anarchist center in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Archived web pages of the accounts show they shared more than 71,000 followers and dated as far back as 2012.
Their pages now read “Account suspended” for violating Twitter rules.
This follows a mass purge of right-wing accounts in the wake of the Capitol riot earlier this month, a swing-back of the censorship pendulum that surprises nobody who knows anything about anything. That purge was broadly supported by shitlibs and a surprisingly large percentage of the true left, despite the overwhelming and growing pile of evidence that it is impossible to consent to internet censorship for other ideologies without consenting to censorship for your own.
I encountered many arguments in support of the right-wing purge from the online left while it was happening, and none of them were good.
“They’re only banning fascists,” they told me. “Why are you defending fascists?”
Well first of all there was never any evidence that these social media corporations were only purging fascists. We know for example that included in the sweep were tens of thousands of basic QAnon posters, who while ignorant and wrong would not in most cases meet most people’s definition of “fascist”. We don’t know who else was eliminated in the purge, but believing on blind faith that Facebook and Twitter were only targeting fascists who want to violently overthrow the US government is silly.
In reality these social media giants have never claimed to be “banning fascists”, and there’s no reason to believe that’s their policy; white nationalists like Richard Spencer are still there. And even if these outlets did have a policy of “banning fascists”, what definition of “fascist” are they using? Do proponents of Silicon Valley censorship believe they’ll be using their personal definition of fascism to determine whose political speech is off limits? Do you think they’ll be calling you personally to consult you on whom to ban? How do you imagine this works exactly?
And of course opposing the normalization of government-tied monopolistic Silicon Valley oligarchs controlling worldwide political speech on the platforms an increasing number of people use to communicate important ideas is not “defending fascists”. Opposing oligarchic authoritarian control is the exact opposite of defending fascism.
“They always censor the left,” they told me. “We’re just happy that now they’re censoring fascists too.”
So you imagine it can’t get worse? We just saw a major escalation against leftist accounts these past few days; do you think that’s the end of it? What do you imagine will happen if the left ever gets close to actually threatening the interests of the powerful after you’ve helped manufacture consent for the normalization of internet censorship every step of the way?
It can always get worse. The online left has not yet experienced mass-scale censorship of political speech yet; it’s experienced losing a few accounts here and there. You haven’t seen anything yet. Some Twitter leftists really seem to think that getting suspended because Kamala Harris supporters mass-reported them over a mean tweet is as ugly as this thing will get. If your goal is to threaten power at some point (and if you’re a real leftist it should be), then you need to oppose the normalization of any policies that can be used to silence those who threaten the powerful.
“Well it’s not like leftist revolution will be planned on social media anyway,” they told me.
You don’t use social media to plan the leftist revolution, you use it to create more leftists. You use it to bring consciousness and understanding to your ideas and your causes. Consenting to the institutionalization of the censorship of political speech is consenting to your own silence on this front, which will mean the only people who will be able to quickly share ideas and information online with the mainstream population will be those who support the very power structures you oppose.
And make no mistake, the imperial narrative managers most certainly do need the public’s consent for internet censorship. They don’t pour vast fortunes into manufacturing consent for evil agendas because it’s fun, they do it because they require the public’s consent. The empire’s inverted totalitarianism only holds together because they’re able to maintain the illusion of freedom and democracy; the iron-fisted silencing of wholesome political speech can only happen if the public has been paced into believing it’s a good thing. Every step of the tightening of the censorship noose is a part of this pacing, and if you consent to it, you’re helping them.
“Ultimately this content moderation movement will restore a system where the only allowable route to a mass audience is through a major institutional partner,” journalist Matt Taibbi recently observed.
That is it. That is the goal. They tried allowing free speech online while simply hammering us with propaganda to keep us asleep, but people still just wanted to use the democratization of information that the internet afforded them to talk about about how horrible the status quo is. So now they’re working to reinstate the supremacy of mainstream gatekeepers.
When you realize that corporations are America’s real government, the whole “it isn’t censorship if it’s a private company doing it” argument is seen for the joke that it is. When you learn that this censorship is being actively coordinated with the official government, it’s even more of a joke.
To support the censorship of online speech is to support the authority of monopolistic tech oligarchs to exert more and more global control over human communication. Regardless of your attitude toward whoever happens to be getting deplatformed on any given day, supporting this can only be self-destructive.
Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission
You Counter Trumpism By Ending The Conditions Which Created It, Not With Authoritarian Policies
The US political/media class have been pushing hard for more authoritarian policies to stave off the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the Capitol riot. President Biden, who was already working on rolling out new domestic terror policies well before January sixth, confirmed after the riot that he is making these new measures a priority. Political internet censorship is becoming increasingly normalized, anti-protest bills are being passed, and now we’re seeing liberals encouraged to form “digital armies” to spy on Trump supporters to report them to the authorities.
And an amazingly large percentage of the US population seems to have no problem with any of this, even in sectors of the political spectrum that should really know better by now.
“What else can we do?” they reason. “What other solution could there possibly be to the threat of dangerous fascists and conspiracy theorists continuing to gain power and influence?”
Well there’s a whole lot that can be done, and none of it includes consenting to sweeping new Patriot Act-like authoritarian measures or encouraging monopolistic Silicon Valley plutocrats to censor worldwide political speech. There’s just a whole lot of mass-scale narrative manipulation going on to keep it from being obvious to everyone.
The way to stem the tide of Trumpism (or fascism, or white supremacism, or Trump cultism, or whatever term you use for what you’re worried about here) is to eliminate the conditions which created it.
Trump was only able to launch his successful faux-populist campaign in the first place by exploiting the widespread pre-existing opinion that there was a swamp that needed draining, a corrupt political system whose leadership does not promote the interests of the people.
Conspiracy theories only exist because the government often does evil things and lies about them with the help of the mass media, forcing people to just guess what’s happening behind the opaque wall of government secrecy.
People only get it in their heads that they need a trustworthy strongman to overhaul the system if the system has failed them.
People who are actually interested in ending Trumpism would be promoting an end to the corruption in the political system, an end to the opacity of their government, an end to their uniquely awful electoral system, and an end to the neoliberal policies which have been making Americans poorer and poorer with less and less support from the government which purports to protect them.
But these changes are not being promoted by the US political/media class, because the US political/media class speaks for an empire that depends on these things.
Without corruption, the plutocratic class couldn’t use campaign donations and corporate lobbying to install and maintain politicians who will advance their interests.
Without government secrecy, the oligarchic empire could not conspire in secret to advance the military and economic agendas which form the glue that holds the empire together.
Without a lying mass media, people’s consent could not be manufactured for wars and a system which does not serve their interests.
Without widespread poverty and domestic austerity, people could not be kept too busy and politically impotent to challenge the massive political influence of the plutocrats.
So the option of stopping the rise of Trumpism by changing the system is taken off the table, which is why you never hear it discussed as a possibility in mainstream circles. The only option people are being offered to debate the pros and cons of is giving more powers to that same corrupt system which created Trump, powers which will be under the control of the next Trumpian figure who is elevated by that very system.
You’re not going to prevent fascism by creating a big authoritarian monster to stomp it into silence, and even if you could you would only be stopping the fascism by becoming the fascism. To stop the rise of fascism you need to actually change. Drastically. Believing you can just make it go away without changing your situation is like believing you can avert an oncoming train by putting your hands over your eyes.
There is no valid argument against what I am saying here. Saying the powerful won’t allow any positive change is just confirming everything I’m saying and confirming the need to remove the powerful from power. Saying that ending corruption, government secrecy and injustice would just be giving the terrorists what they want would be turning yourself into a bootlicker of such cartoonish obsequiousness there aren’t words in the English language adequate to mock you.
Yes, change is desperately needed. Yes, the powerful will resist that change with everything they have. But the alternative is letting them plunge the world into darkness and destruction. We’re going to have to find a way to win this thing.
Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission
The Next Two Years Will Be The Democratic Party At Its Most Transparent
Joe Biden is now the president of the United States of America. His day one executive orders should have prioritized ending the single worst crisis in the world in Yemen, a war he campaigned on ending US involvement in, but they did not.
Ending US participation in the Yemen genocide could and should have begun on day one. In These Times reported the following back in November (emphasis added):
One thing Biden can do, starting on day one, is end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war — involvement that he helped initiate. “By executive order, Biden could get the Pentagon to end intelligence sharing for the Saudi coalition airstrikes, end logistical support, and end spare parts transfers that keep Saudi warplanes in the air,” Hassan El-Tayyab, lead Middle East policy lobbyist for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a progressive organization, tells In These Times. “He could restore humanitarian assistance to northern Yemen. He could use his power as president to put pressure on other nations that are supporting the Saudi coalition — like France, the United Kingdom and Canada — and get them to follow suit. He could have the State Department put a stop on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless they meet certain benchmarks.”
Biden did none of these things, which while unsurprising is still inexcusable. This isn’t some ten-year infrastructure plan we’re talking about, this is the worst mass atrocity on our entire planet and it should be treated with proportionate urgency. This administration consciously chose not to end US participation in that atrocity as swiftly as possible, which will remain an inexcusable decision even if the Yemen war is eventually ended later.
Instead of grilling Biden about his decision not to prioritize his promise to end the Yemen war, which is what any real journalist would do, the press are asking him stupid nonsense questions about whether he can “unite the country”.
In the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration we were treated to some Senate hearings on his cabinet picks, in which we learned that this administration will continue Trump’s murderous coupmongering in Venezuela, that it will maintain Trump’s incendiary decision to have the US embassy in Jerusalem, that reviving the Iran nuclear deal is a long ways off from happening and will first require consultation with Israel, and that it will be continuing Trump’s cold war escalations against China.
In one of the more bizarre displays in the Senate hearings, Biden’s nominee to lead the State Department Tony Blinken defended his support for the disastrous Libya intervention during his time in the Obama administration by blaming its aftermath on Muammar Gaddafi, the leader who was mutilated to death in the streets after a US-led intervention to oust him.
“Here’s what I think we misjudged,” Blinken said. “We didn’t fully appreciate the fact that one of the things Gaddafi had done over the years was to make sure that there was no possible rival to his power, and as a result there was no effective bureaucracy, no effective administration in Libya with which to work when he was gone.”
By “when he was gone” Blinken means when he was dead, because the United States helped kill him after staging an intervention based on lies. He is defending his push for an intervention which led to a failed state where people are sold as slaves by saying that if Gaddafi had run his country better it would not have collapsed into violence and chaos when the Obama administration murdered him.
This is like an axe murderer blaming his actions on his victim’s bad housekeeping. The brazenness with which imperialist goons can shrug off all responsibility for their actions will never cease to astonish.
The next two years will be the Democratic Party at its most transparent. After two years they are statistically likely to lose control of the House and/or Senate, after which time they’ll be able to pawn off all imperialist bloodshed and lack of progress on an “obstructionist congress” like they did for the last six years of the Obama administration. But until then the Democrats are going to have to own all of their reactionary depravity and mass murder on their own.
This will set a sharp contrast from the past four years, where every mundane part of the US empire’s institutionalized abuse was portrayed as an anomaly unique to the Trump administration. Unable to blame their refusal to advance progressive policies and basic human decency on Trump and Vladimir Putin these next two years, they’ll be forced to kill any leftward movement all on their own. Which is why we are now already seeing mass media articles with headlines like “Under Biden, it’s time for Democrats to let go of Medicare for All“.
And this period will provide ample opportunities to highlight the fact that that’s exactly what the Democratic Party exists to do: kill all leftward movement in the most powerful government on earth. As the US continues its soul-crushing neoliberal policies at home and its murderous neoconservative policies abroad with the same degree of psychopathy it displayed in previous administrations, we must draw attention to the fact that it is the Democratic Party which bears responsibility for these things.
The sooner Americans can discredit the Democratic Party as a legitimate vehicle for progressive change, the sooner they can start looking for other tools. The first step to escape is to stop pushing against the fake door falsely labeled “exit”.
Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission