Facebook Has Built & Nurtured Communities Of Morons
The marketplace of ideas has been replaced by the marketplace of lies, anger, and hate because that’s the speech that makes Facebook rich
My last column was about stupid people:
After reading it, a world-famous-scientist friend of mine told me:
“Dave, the big problem is that stupid people don’t know it [that they’re stupid] because of their condition. In the past morons and idiots were not a real problem. They had little influence on each other and by and large were taken advantage of.”
I immediately thought, “My God, he’s right!”
Stupid People With Stupid Ideas Used To Be Invisible
For the entire history of humankind, civilization pretty much ignored dumb people. They didn’t really matter. They had no organization, no platform, no unified voice, no valuable ideas, and no workable plans.
Their stupid ideas could not successfully compete in a marketplace of ideas where success was derived from validity, usefulness, intelligence and truth.
They were stupid and nobody heard or cared what they had to say, which was a good thing.
Sure, there was, and still is, The National Enquirer, but nobody really took anything in that rag seriously.
From time to time a demagogue would ride a wave of stupid people to some greater or lesser position of power, but eventually he would fade away like the rest of the trash when the tide goes out.
Happily, stupid people and their stupid ideas were never a constant, material factor in society. Until now.
Until recently, conspiracy nuts were just that, nuts, and their stupid ramblings vanished like water in the desert because
- They had no way to transmit their stupid ideas to millions of other simple-minded, susceptible people
- They had no way to find and communicate with each other, to organize themselves in a way that increased the impact of their stupid notions, and
- Their ideas were false and stupid and worthless
But now that’s changed. Under the new advertising/engagement business model, false and stupid ideas can be very valuable and thus very promotable.
Facebook Has Hugely Empowered Stupid People
There are seminal inventions that massively change the course of human society — fire, the wheel, the transistor, the internet.
Like fire, the wheel and the transistor, Facebook has fundamentally and materially changed human society by
- Concentrating and amplifying lies, hate, bigotry, ignorance and stupidity
- Coordinating and collecting an unlimited variety of lies, hate, bigotry, ignorance and stupidity into communities
- Facilitating crazy people, angry people, hateful people and stupid people in finding and joining together with other like-minded individuals
- Collecting and delivering their lies, hate, bigotry, ignorance and stupidity to other targeted, susceptible crazy, angry, hateful and stupid people.
Yes, the internet allowed anyone to create a website filled with their dumb or hateful ideas, but that didn’t mean all that much because the messages on those noxious sites weren’t widely communicated.
They were like jars filled with toxic substances that just sat there in a huge warehouse filled with hundreds of millions of other jars, harmful only if someone happened to stumble across one of them.
But Facebook acted like an agent provocateur who,for money, took the contents of those jars and dumped them into the municipal water supply.
Facebook’s Recommendation Algorithms Have Unified Stupid People & Promoted Their Stupid Ideas
Facebook’s algorithms act as an intelligent agent, daily, hourly, constantly, searching through hundreds of millions of posts and grabbing up all the crazy, vicious, lying, hateful and stupid ideas it can find, sorting them into similar baskets, and then delivering them to hundreds of millions of people whom the algorithm determines might be lured into reading them.
Instead of a thousand morons each standing in a thousand empty fields and shouting their stupidities into the wind, Facebook gathered up each idiotic message and sent it to a hundred thousand other morons who might think those nut-job ideas were brilliant insights and then connected the idiots together in a party line where all the fools could reassure each other how smart and true their shared nonsense was.
What had been a hundred thousand isolated idiots with no access to any means of collaboration with each other or communication of their nonsense to other susceptible fools scattered across almost four million square miles, was now communities of morons not only reinforcing their stupid ideas but cooperatively spreading them to other stupid, but as yet uncontaminated, human beings.
It’s one thing for the village idiot to babble over his third beer that the President of the United States rapes babies in the White House basement, but it’s quite another when a hundred thousand morons make that claim to thousands of other simple-minded people on a daily basis.
Like Yellow Journalism Before It, It’s All About More Money
Such a thing was impossible for the entire course of human history, until now, but Facebook has not only made it possible, it actively promotes it, fosters it, and relentlessly drives it because the more morons it connects together and the more widely it disseminates their stupidity and lies, the more money it makes.
The more outrageous the stupid people’s stupid claims, the more profitable they are to advertisers.
Stupid ideas are now promoted because on Facebook ideas are not valued for their usefulness, validity, intelligence or truthfulness.
Instead, ideas have became commercially valuable in proportion to their outrageousness, meanness, anger and hatred. The more extreme, the more dishonest, the more mean-spirited, the more angry, the more outrageous, the more untrue, the more they are worth to the platform that hosts them.
Truth no longer has any inherent value. Instead, anger, lies, hatred, outrage, and dishonesty have marketing value.
Facebook is not a marketplace of ideas whose value is proportional to their truth and utility. Instead it’s a marketplace of lies, anger, and hate because those are the qualities of the ideas that get the most engagement and therefore make Facebook the most money.
Facebook makes William Randolph Hearst and his Yellow Journalism look like a pack of boy scouts telling ghost stories around a campfire.
The Fabulously Lucrative Business Model Of Amplifying Stupidity & Lies
For the first time in history, the process of distributing, promoting, amplifying and targeting lies, hatred, and ignorance to a potential audience of almost three BILLION people has been automated and monetized in a system where boring truth is worthless and outrageous lies are gold.
For the first time in history the amplification of and the targeted distribution of unlimited categories of ignorance, anger, lies, racism, hatred and stupidity are hugely profitable.
Facebook has given stupid people and their stupid ideas a worldwide platform, and the problem is that the other angry, simple-minded, racist, stupid people on the receiving end don’t, can’t, understand how stupid, dangerous and false those ideas are, nor do they care. They just want to get excited by hearing more of what they want to hear.
And that’s really, really dangerous for everyone else.