Posted on July 24, 2020

Minding the Posting Abyss

Chris Roberts, American Renaissance, July 24, 2020

The Echo Chamber Cartoon

“The Echo Chamber” by Hugh Macleod (Image via: tara hunt / Flickr)

In 1968, the German left-wing pundit Ulrike Meinhof wrote a column attacking herself, and others like her, for playing the role of cathartic but ineffectual dissent:

The columnist functions as a pressure release valve. Columnists can write what they want the way they want. This creates the impression that any journalist can write what they want the way they want in their particular newspaper. . . Columnism is a personality cult. Through columnism, the left-wing position that was developed by many and came to prominence in the move from theory to practice . . . is reduced to the position of one individual, an isolated individual, to the views of an original, outrageous, nonconformist individual, who can be co-opted because in being alone they are powerless.

Sam Francis expressed a similar sentiment in 1991:

It remains legally possible (barely) to express sentiments and ideas that are further to the Right [of neoconservatism], but if an elite enjoys cultural hegemony, as the Left does, it has no real reason to outlaw its opponents. Indeed, encouraging their participation in the debate fosters the illusion of “pluralism” and serves to legitimize the main Leftward trend of the debate.

These arguments often come to mind when I am on social media, especially Twitter, Gab, and Parler. Each platform, to varying degrees, lets dissidents express themselves without the interference of an editor or HR department bureaucrat. It’s liberating to be able to skewer and satirize famous personalities. And it is exactly that type of content that is most popular on all of these sites: rhetorical questions, sarcasm, and mockery. It’s fun, and can be a pleasant reminder that you are not the only one who thinks the world has lost its mind.

But it comes with serious limitations. “Posting” is not political activism or self-improvement; it is not “productive.” Hours spent in an echo chamber that rewards snark and condescension are not hours well spent. Social media are useful if they help you spread a message to a new audience and make contact with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Beyond that, it is much like the “pressure release valve” Meinhof described. It can make you feel less alone, more sane, and more heard. But that doesn’t mean it is making an impact on the real world. Indeed, time spent on social media is time not spent in the real world, and it can distort your understanding of the real world:

Twitter and Joe Biden

Some social media use is fine — I’m not going to delete my Twitter account. But it’s important to remember the limitations sounding off. The wave of riots this year, and the government’s anarcho-tyrannical response, reminded me that the horrors of multiracialism can explode at your doorstep at any time — and you will be on your own when that happens. Since May, I have taken physical fitness and weapons training more seriously than ever. The “decisive struggle” could come sooner than we had thought.

For every tweet I send, I am trying to do at least twice as many push-ups. The elderly or incapacitated might consider replacing push-ups with phone calls on behalf of a worthy political candidate, or with dollars donated to a worthy cause.

Keep posting, but don’t let it monopolize your time — because Twitter is not going to be a critical factor in any serious endeavor.