Ironic America

Does a teenager raised on virtual violence become a man unable to understand the incitement-act-effect process?

The most disturbing thing, among many disturbing things, revealed in Louis Theroux’s new documentary Forbidden America is the twisted logic behind the protagonists philosophy.

I don’t mean their views, which I trust, since you’re an attentive reader of this blog, you already know I don’t share. I’m talking about the sight of men in their twenties screaming abuse like frustrated thirteen-year-olds. What might be irritating but almost understandable behaviour in a pre-pubescent boy, erupting as it does from confusion, heightened testosterone and frustration that the world doesn’t seem to care about his ego, is cause for concern in a grown man.

Is this what happens when young men are isolated, communicating only through violent online games, the most extreme behaviour rewarded? In one scene a man threatens to rape a particular young woman, describing in detail what he’s going to do to her, and then laughs. The girl herself then says that she understands he’s being ironic, but that she still felt threatened.

I’m still trying to come to terms with that.

These men – and they are almost exclusively men – excuse their outbursts by saying they’re ironic; the word keeps cropping up. They espouse extremely right wing views but then say they’re not part of the right wing; they’re being ironic.

Presumably the fact that they all make their living from streaming their childish nonsense, and are therefore constantly craving viewers, is not an insignificant factor.

The Internet: the greatest tool for communication in the history of humanity. Look upon ye works and despair.

Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies


The great Notifications turn-off

Don’t notify me about what you think I’d like to know, just what I ask for

The notifications that some apps offer are a great idea, and a perfet use of the technology. The BBC Sport app is an example of best practice; it’s possible to control exactly the kind of notifications you get. I use it all the time.

Why? Because the world is full of sports, and the vast majority of them I have no interest in. If they just sent me notifications they thought I might like it would be based on the most popular, football probably, and since football falls into my category of “not remotely interested” then I’d switch off the notifications pronto. But instead they offer me the chance to select exactly which sports I want to know about, and also when and how I want to be notified, I use the service. Thanks BBC.

Sadly, one of the original mobile app rockstars, Twitter, is an example of how not to do it, and hence I don’t have their notifications switched on – despite Twitter asking me to do so several times a day.

Because they insist on sending me notifications I didn’t ask for, like tweets from people I don’t follow on subjects I’m not iterested in. Oviously they’re trying to use the service as a means to increase engagement but, for me at least, it has the opposite effect.

Which is a shame. In truth, I’d love to use Twitter more, and I believe many others would too, but unless they concentrate on providing the service their users want and cut out the crap, or at least give us an option to switch the crap off, they’re going to keep sliding down the social media league tables.

Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies


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