Category Archives: Social Media

Welcome to Likeville

iknowwhereimgoingtolive_32818b_4859529The promise of Social Media Land was always, to some extent, an imperialistic dream. The geeks who created this online world were all, to a man, urban liberals who hoped the Internet would bring the light of civilization to Sameville, a mythological small town where everybody’s white and wrong. The enlightened minds of the multicultural metropolis were going to bring the true gospel of diversity and tolerance to the benighted citizens of Sameville. If these guys had a theme song, it would be a cover of Walter Donaldson’s Jazz Era classic—“How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?” (1919)—entitled “How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down in Stupidlandia (After They’ve Seen Portlandia)?”

how_ya_gonna_keep_em_down_on_the_farm_after_theyve_seen_paree_sm-2-073The dream came true. Well, sorta. When I was a kid, there were still people in my working-class neighborhood who believed that if you scared a pregnant woman, her baby would be born with a tail. Ignorance like this of shockingly medieval proportions was everywhere to be found. Few of my friends had a working 20th-century knowledge of human anatomy, much less the natural world. But I’m happy to report that the Internet, and especially Wikipedia, has cleared up much of this ignorance.

My children have access to far more accurate knowledge about things like how a woman gets pregnant than most of my friends did at their age. What’s more, to the best of my knowledge, none of their friends believe in babies with tails. To some extent, then, the Internet has indeed been a force of enlightenment in our world. But its enlightenment has been limited in scope, in part, because the geeks who dreamed of conquering small-town ignorance failed to anticipate the emergence of Sameville’s online doppelgänger: Likeville.

16These days, any simpleminded partisan with a political ax to grind can find a Likeville, an online community of like-minded whack-jobs who’ll happily Facebook-like every stupid thing he says. Likeville isn’t just a safe space for stupid, it’s boot camp for bullshit. Likeville arms its citizens with plenty of ideological ammunition (e.g., bogus stats, pre-fab arguments, etc.). Before long, what was once a more-or-less harmless, single-issue troll has morphed into something far more monstrous and formidable: a veritable Swiss-army knife of bullshit, a perfect storm of bad ideas, a walking Wikipedia of stupid.

Alexandre Bissonnette is a product of Likeville. And what he did in Quebec City ought to be a wake-up call. If the Mosque Massacre proves anything, it’s that these Frankenstein creations of the Internet, these Likevilles, aren’t just a major obstacle to 21st-century Enlightenment; they’re a serious threat to peace, order, and good government.

—John Faithful Hamer, Being a Philosopher in Social Media Land (2017)

How to Kafkatrap like the Joseph McCarthy of Montreal Feminism

kafkatrap, v. To accuse someone of some form of “ism” (sexism, racism, etc.) and to proclaim that their denial, or any attempt they make to defend themselves, is proof that they are guilty.—Urban Dictionary

STEP ONE: Insert yourself into online debate about anything: monetary policy in Bolivia, forestry practices in Bulgaria, salamander mating habits in Belgium, the placement of stop signs in Baie-d’Urfé. Truth be told, pretty much anything will do.

STEP TWO: Claim that the thing in question is a clear example of misogyny.

STEP THREE: When some poor sucker objects, attack them viciously; be sure to call them a misogynist, and, for good measure, refer to them as a hapless tool of the patriarchal order.

1docksPoking fun at Zionists who seem to believe that anyone who disagrees with them is an antisemite (or a self-hating Jew), Aaron Haspel once quipped: “Anti-Semite: A person whom Jews hate.” There are feminists who reason in a similar fashion: they seem to believe that anyone who disagrees with them is a misogynist. Hence, for this minority (and they really are a minority) we might quip: “Misogynist: A person whom feminists hate.”

The history of the struggle for social justice is filled with symbiotic relationships between radicals and reformers: radicals angrily insist upon the moon, and, as a consequence, make those asking for the mountaintop seem, by comparison, reasonable. But that’s not what’s going on here. The Joseph McCarthy of Montreal feminism isn’t a radical; he’s a buffoon. He doesn’t make more moderate feminists seem reasonable; he makes all feminists look ridiculous. After all, if an argument explains everything, it explains nothing.

A colleague of mine at John Abbott College worked with two different radical environmental organizations back in the heady days of the 1980s. These groups were being infiltrated by undercover agents often. But the spies were pretty easy to spot, he says, because (1) the spies were invariably those “activists” taking the most insanely radical positions on every single issue; and (2) the spies were invariably those “activists” who consistently advocated violence. The aim of these agents provocateurs was clear: to discredit environmentalism. The aim of the Joseph McCarthy of Montreal Feminism is far less clear. Obviously he’s not being paid to discredit feminism. I’m sure he means well. But with friends like this, feminism really doesn’t need enemies.

Like snake-oil salesmen, who need to convince you that you’re sick before they can sell you their cure, Nietzsche maintains that Christian missionaries had to first convince pagans that they were all born guilty—tainted, from Day One, by Original Sin—before they could sell them on the Jesus cure. The worldview of social justice warriors like the Joseph McCarthy of Montreal Feminism is strikingly similar. But does it really make sense to say that we’re all sick, that our society’s sick, that the Original Sin of misogyny and racism taints us all from birth? I don’t think so. A net that catches the whole sea isn’t much of a net. And an argument that explains everything, explains nothing.

Saturday Night Live needs to bring back Dana Carvey and resurrect his Church Lady character as an obnoxious social justice warrior. Aside from a new outfit, they’d just have to replace “Satan” with “misogyny” (or “racism”). Unlike Satan, racism and misogyny are real, and that’s an important difference. But it’s less salient than it might seem at first blush. What made the Church Lady character so funny in the late 1980s was, not so much her belief in Satan, but rather the fact that she blames everything on Satan. Everything she dislikes about the world is, directly or indirectly, a function of Satan. It is, then, not the content, but rather the form of the Church Lady’s argument—its stridency and circularity—that makes it so ridiculous. The same is true of the claims made by the most obnoxious of the social justice warriors. If there’s no way for you to be wrong, you’re not making an argument, you’re making a statement of faith.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2017)

The “Twitter Revolution”: A Revolution for Twits

Apparently the term “Twitter Revolution” is a thing.  If you haven’t heard this term before, consider yourself fortunate.  I hadn’t until someone used it in an attempt to make Twitter seem relevant instead of what it really is: the most obvious sign of vapidity in the most self-obsessed generation in history this side of the Baby Boomers.  (Are the Baby Boomers actually even worse?  That’s a tough call!)

The general thesis of the concept is that Twitter was somehow uniquely suited to communicating and organizing mass protests around the world since 2009.  Its adherents cite Moldova (2009), Toronto (2009), Iran (2009-10), Venezuela (2010), Tunisia (2010-11), Egypt (2011), the so-called Occupy Movement, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.  The reasons given for Twitter being somehow uniquely suited to the role include its ubiquitous nature and its oft-derided 140-character message length being somehow technically suited to the ancient SMS format of GSM systems.

There’s a problem with these claims, however.  They’re utter bullshit.

  • Twitter isn’t ubiquitous.  It isn’t even the most popular social media platform (by far!).
  • There is literally ZERO relationship, aside from a silly social fixation on  it, between the 140 character limitation and SMS.
  • Most of what is cited as Twitter’s influence is fiction spun by the press.

I’ll address these one by one.

Ubiquitous Twits

Let’s deal with the big gorilla in the lounge first.  Twitter is an also-ran of social media.  Consider these numbers:

Facebook has 1.6 billion active users as of 2016.  WhatsApp has about a billion. QQ (which includes QZone), a REGIONAL social media site, has about 900 million.  WeChat, similarly regional (albeit with an eye toward world expansion) has about 700 million.  Tumblr and Instagram claim 550 and 400 million respectively.  Finally we get to mighty, worldwide, influence-shaping Twitter.  At a paltry 320 million users.  WORLDWIDE.  The highly-regional QZone is twice the size.  Just Facebook’s messenger component is almost three times the size.  Another highly regional service, Sina Weibo, largely considered to be a failure here in China, weighs in at a similar 220 million.  Note that: a site considered to be a failure in a single region is within spitting distance of a worldwide site that is bizarrely considered to be such a resounding success that it’s grist for revolutionary mills!  How bizarre is that?

(Note also that I’ve been too polite to bring up the numbers for sites like Reddit or even cesspools like 4chan and 8chan…)

Twitter is, in short far from ubiquitous.  You can smell the panic coming from  Twitter’s HQ these days as they run from one random new feature to another in a  desperate bid to curtail the big stall they’ve encountered in their growth.

Twitter’s ubiquity is total fiction.  There is nothing in Twitters supposed broad availability that makes it uniquely suited to organizing and aiding in revolution.

Technology

“Ah!” the argument continues, however, as fans of the Twitter Revolution try to justify their delusion, “But Twitter’s message length is exactly the same as the message length of SMS messages, so it’s particularly suited to places that don’t have a lot of smartphones that can deal with the other social media sites!”

Again, I’m afraid, this argument is bullshit on several levels.  I’ll deal with two of them here; the two easiest ones to dismantle.  I’ll leave the rest of this as an exercise for the reader.

Old Phones

The wonderfully ditzy view here is that while yes, long before Twitter existed there were phones that had no problem breaking up too-long messages into parts, sending those parts as individual messages, then assembling them at the receiving end back into a single message (you know, like every packet-based protocol in history!), the poor people of Tunisia or Iran or Egypt (or … Toronto?  What?! …) couldn’t actually AFFORD modern phones and thus Twitter’s natural fit to SMS messaging was a godsend.  In this worldview (usually expressed by Americans who have a childishly naive view that the rest of the world subsists primarily off of American cast-offs) sure all mobile phones made since well before 2005 (Twitter started in 2006) could do the reassembly thing, but that’s not the phones people in struggling developing parts of the world use.  They have to deal with older technology, so Twitter is the natural choice; most people in these countries send SMS “tweets” (somehow) and don’t use Twitter directly.

There is a problem with this viewpoint, however.  It is ignorant to the point of stupidity.  Take China as an example.  A huge percentage of the population still exists as, basically, barely-above-subsistence rice farmers, yet these same (shockingly poverty-stricken) farmers all have new phones.  About half of them have new smartphones (obviously not overpriced crud like Apple’s but still actual smartphones).  The rest have brand-new “feature phones” (read: older-style phones with small screens and real keyboards).  NOBODY USES PHONES FROM PRE-2006!  (Hell, almost nobody uses phones pre-2012.)

There’s a good reason for this: new phones aren’t just technologically superior to the old kit, they’re CHEAPER.  Yes, it’s far cheaper, really, to buy a new low-end phone than it is to buy a second-hand pre-2005 phone.  (This doesn’t even get into the costs of ownership, just purchasing.)  This is one of those fascinating things about electronics.  It just gets cheaper and cheaper and cheaper to the point that keeping old kit around is silly.

(So, no, my naive American friends, when you toss out your current iPhone for the model that’s 3mm longer and 0.5mm thinner and that now comes in a slightly different shade of silver and black, the phone is not being handed down to the poorer people of the world.  It’s getting tossed into a huge pile of industrial waste and contributing to one hell of an environmental catastrophe that’s moving in slow motion in southern China among other places.  Thanks, guys.  It’s appreciated.)

Twitter, it seems then, isn’t really a natural fit to poor people using old-style phones that can only deal with SMS messages individually because those people simply don’t exist in any meaningful numbers.

Oh, and talking of Twitter’s natural fit to SMS…

SMS Format

Even if the insulting argument that Twitter is useful because third-world people only have western castoffs wasn’t obviously untrue, there’s still a problem: The SMS message format limit is not 140 characters.  It was 128 bytes originally.  Then with encoding tricks and a few more bits squeezed out here and there that 128-byte limitation (that was there for sound technical reasons I won’t get into) was made so that it could support 160×7-bit ASCII characters, 140×8-bit characters in the various venerable Europe-centric encodings, or 70×16-bit characters in the venerable UCS-2 encoding format.

Note that.  SMS’s limitation is not Twitter’s 140 characters, it’s 160 or 140 or 70 (depending on which encoding you choose) characters of specific language groups and types.  Twitter’s 140 character limit is a twee call out to a misunderstanding of SMS technology.  Twitter is limited to 140 characters of any kind in any language no matter what the actual transmission length.

This means that if I’m typing just plain English text I’m losing 20 characters off of the real SMS standard.  If I’m typing any kind of extended characters from the 8-bit encoding sets (like LATIN-1, say) then I can type exactly the same amount that I can throw into an SMS.  If I’m typing Arabic, however, at 140 characters that’s two SMS messages.  If I’m typing Chinese that can be … well it can be a real problem since not all Chinese characters can be encoded in UCS-2.

(Note, also, this other problem with Twitter’s approach.  140 characters in Chinese is a good chunk of an essay.  140 characters in English is barely a coherent thought.  This shows in the results.)

No, there is no technological relationship whatsoever that ties Twitter to SMS messaging at any meaningful level.  The number 140 was pulled out of Twitter’s founders’ ass based on a misunderstanding of what SMS’ real standards were (or, perhaps, as a cynical attempt to tie the two together given how SMS-crazy people were c.2005 instead).  Given this, any pretext that it is somehow easier to bridge SMS to Twitter falls apart at even a nominal level of inspection.  If social media really was being used to export and organize revolution around the world, there would be no particular reason for selecting Twitter over any other format.  All the supposed technical problems that you’d have to deal with using, say, Facebook would apply to Twitter as well.

Real-world Impact

I have a friend in Iran.  Tehran, to be specific.  Ground zero for the various bits of unwanted excitement surrounding the Iranian elections in 2009-2010.  He has a word for the people who think that Twitter was somehow instrumental in organizing the opposition and protests: “idiots”.

It seems, strangely, that Twitter was simply unavailable to most participants of that mass debacle/horror.  Almost nobody had access to it (seeing as how it was heavily blocked) and almost nobody used it as a result.  The claim that Twitter was used by people with secret bridges to the outside world who would then spread Twitter messages via SMS was also risible on the face of it.  The state controlled the  supplier of SMS services, see, and would have been trivially able to follow along on the SMS messages to find out who was going to be where when had Twitter/SMS (a specious pairing anyway, c.f. above) been used.

No, for him and his friends organization was the old-fashioned way: word of mouth, telephone trees, etc.  Twitter had literally zero impact on anything he got involved in.  Lest you try to object that perhaps it was the more  technically-minded revolutionary-wannabes that did the Twitting, keep in mind that the friend in question is a communications engineer who even now, with blocks in place that are FAR stronger than those used in 2009, routinely  penetrates to the outside world (like I do from within China) to converse with people using various blocked communications media: Facebook, IRC, Skype, etc.  Had Twitter been in active use during those troubles he would have known and, indeed, participated (likely even facilitating; among the many services he does provide you can number a business that provides people with ways to penetrate Iran’s blocks from the outside).

You will find similar stories in pretty much every other “Twitter-influenced revolution” out there.  Was Twitter used?  Yes.  By a small number of people. Mostly to tell their side of events to the outside world.  Or to demonize the other side.  Or to be the other side pretending to be the first side demonizing the other side in a bout of tomfoolery that rivals Spy vs. Spy.  But these people also used Facebook, Google+, Orkut, and several social media sites you’ve never heard of.  Twitter was by no means unique in this regard.

So Why?  Why “Twitter Revolution”?

In brief: lazy journalists.  It’s no secret that journalists are incredibly lazy these days when it comes to fact checking.  The dominant approach to journalism these days seems to be “let’s just report whatever we think our audience or our owners want to hear, and we’ll retract and apologize on page 1700 if we get caught spreading lies again.”

Now to be fair Twitter was actually used quite a lot in the time frames mentioned.  It did have a lot of press coverage as a result.  But that’s the whole point: Twitter was reported on because it was the hip, new, attention-gathering thing.  It was a “different twist” on Yet Another Story of horrible governments getting their comeuppance (for a few weeks) from the downtrodden masses.  Twitter got free press and publicity as a result and got paired with revolutions.

Had the first of these chains of revolutions started a couple of years earlier we’d be here talking about the Orkut Revolution or something.  Or had it happened a bit later maybe the Pinterest Revolution or the WhatsApp Revolution or some other Flavour-Of-The-Day Manufactured “Revolution”.  We just happened to be unlucky and got the most asinine of social media sites being praised for its purported impact on revolutions worldwide.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Twitter is constructed almost specifically to support slacktivism.  Hashtag activists, social justice dogpiles, and a whole host of other no-work trivialities have replaced previous do-nothing “activism” like ribbon-based “awareness” campaigns.  People want Twitter to be great for revolution because it takes literally no actual effort to do “activism” on it.  In this regard journalists, in their abiding laziness, are merely channelling the zeitgeist.  People want something simple and trivial to become the root cause of revolution; people want to #notalltwits their way into change.  Media, of course, to keep the interest of their waning consumer base, report that yes, indeed, Twitter’s lazy-assed hashtivism is making Real Change™ Worldwide!

And this is why assholes are still in charge in Egypt, in Iran, in Tunisia, in all the places that the “Twitter Revolution” took place.

Thanks guys.  Your hard work is appreciated.

—Michael Richter

What Plato Can Teach Facebook

article-0-00031A9000000258-799_468x360Plato was interested, acutely interested, in sociological categories and psychological types. All of the major human types are captured and cataloged in his dialogues with cold-eyed precision. The charming host of The Symposium is a case in point. Agathon is a type: an intellectual lightweight, with a flair for language, who’s smart enough to suspect that he’s not all that smart. A good-looking guy who loves pretty things and doesn’t care if they’re real. The sort of guy who values beauty far more than he’s ever valued truth. Eryximachus, the annoying doctor in The Symposium, is also a familiar type: an overbearing know-it-all with a stick up his ass and a PhD in Being Boring. A narrow-minded expert who seems to know everything there is to know about the little fenced-in patch of intellectual property he calls home, but practically nothing about the world outside of it.

These are flawed characters. No doubt about that. Agathon is a bit of a tool, and Eryximachus is a bit of a douche; and yet you can’t help but like them. Because they’re so much more than just types. Like all of Plato’s characters, Agathon and Eryximachus are thoroughly human, entirely believable, and utterly unforgettable. These aren’t cardboard cut-outs or sock puppets; these are real people, people you recognize. You never forget their humanity when they’re in the midst of a heated debate, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Alas, the same cannot be said of a heated debate on Facebook. We slip into demonization and nastiness far too easily in Social Media Land. My friend Jean-Louis says this is an inescapable feature of the electronic medium. And maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s just too easy to be an asshole online. Be that as it may, the sociological paradox Plato resolved 2400 years remains unchanged. It sits there, right there, on the path before us: like a boulder, like a stumbling block. We can’t get around it. So we might as well face up to it.

To study people as a group, we have to place them into categories: individuals must cease to be individuals. They must become representatives of this or that category. If you want to know humanity the way an entomologist knows butterflies, you’ll have to learn how to see forests not trees. But if you want to be a decent human being, who treats people with respect, you’ll have to learn how to see trees not forests. Because people are not butterflies. And few things are more dehumanizing than being treated like the representative of a category. Individuals want to be treated like individuals. Plato figured out how to talk about the complicated relationships between people and power, ideas and institutions, without dehumanizing us. We’ve yet to figure out how to do this on Facebook and Twitter.

—John Faithful Hamer, Being a Philosopher in Social Media Land (2017)

Freedom to Facebook?

Even in the worst tyrannies,
speech is free where nobody’s listening.

four_freedoms_00-006Unlike many of the middle-class professionals I know, I’ve never been compelled to publicly endorse something that I privately loathed. Nor have I ever felt the need to keep my political views to myself. Haven’t had to engage in self-censorship of any kind. It’s a beautiful thing, really it is: tenured teachers are free to be outspoken political animals (in the Aristotelian sense), and fully engaged citizens (in the ancient Athenian sense). We can attack what we hate and praise what we love (with impunity). And this makes us free, truly free, in a way that fewer and fewer people are these days. Am I thankful for these freedoms? Yes, I am. Very much so. What a life! What a charmed and blessèd life I lead! But I can’t help but notice that freedom of this stamp—the freedom to live a fully human life—is already so rare that it elicits wonder, longing, envy, and desire.

fblike1-003An increasingly long list of people (e.g., police officers, border guards, nurses, government officials, etc.) are being told what they can and cannot say on social media. Policies are being put in place with clearly stipulated sanctions for those who violate them. To some extent this is little more than a codification of commonsense (e.g., obviously you shouldn’t be posting half-naked pictures of yourself if you teach my kid’s kindergarten class). But these policies invariably go far beyond the realm of commonsense. Indeed, I fear that we’re moving, with startling rapidity, towards a world that looks a whole lot like the world of ancient Athens, wherein the freedom to speak your mind in public about important political matters was the exclusive privilege of a tiny percentage of the population. It’s important to remember that, in the 19th century, one of the central arguments against the extension of the franchise to workers—an argument which was repeated ad nauseam by reactionary conservatives (the enemies of democracy)—was that “wage slaves” couldn’t be trusted with the vote because their employers had far too much power over them. Only the independently wealthy were free to follow the virtuous voice of conscience. Only those of sufficient means could speak and act like free men in the public sphere. If we acquiesce to these new social media policies, are we not proving these reactionaries right?

Fullscreen capture 2015-06-016Be that as it may, I’m especially troubled by the following three questions: (1) What’s to become of democracy and the open society when the freedom to be a political animal is critically endangered, like the Iberian Lynx? (2) If much of political life happens on social media these days, and your boss doesn’t allow you to use social media (even when you’re not at work), is this not an infringement upon your ability to live a fully human life? (3) If your boss can tell you what you can and cannot do when you’re not at work, how free are you? As Aristotle rightly observed long ago, participating in the political life of your community is central to what it means to live a fully human life. The free man who can’t (or won’t) take part in the on-going public conversation about the common good is, he maintained, no better than a child, an idiot, or a well-to-do slave. Machiavelli would surely add, with a sardonic smile, that the free man who can’t (or won’t) participate in politics won’t be free for long. If the Florentine’s ghost could speak and we were willing to listen, I suspect he’d leave us with this question: “How free are you now if you’re not even free to use Facebook?”

—John Faithful Hamer, Being a Philosopher in Social Media Land (2017)

In Praise of Facebook

Facebook-Logo-Wallpaper-011Attacking social media is all the rage amongst the cool kids these days. Like most moral fashions, this one involves a great deal of hypocrisy. Studies have shown that many of those who rail against social media use it—and use it often—just as many of those who railed against Montreal strip-clubs in the 1950s were caught hanging out in them. Even so, the zeitgeist is what it is, and, as a consequence, saying something nice about Facebook may seem a tad perverse to some.

If social media allows you to keep in touch with family and friends that you have a long history with, then I think it’s an unqualified good. Facebook is also at its best when it facilitates the creation of new friendships.

So long as the lion’s share of your online interactions are with people that you’ve met (or would like to meet), all is well. Problems arise, however, when online relationships are divorced from face-to-face relationships; when people use aliases; when people misrepresent themselves online; and, most importantly, when an online relationship is all you’ve ever had with someone—and all you’ve ever wanted.

Facebook can put you in touch with fascinating like-minded people from all over the world. It can create wonderful new connections that at times lead to meaningful friendships. But it can also create connections that probably shouldn’t have existed in the first place, connections which would have fizzled in minutes if they had happened in person. I must confess that this has happened to me a few times. But, truth be told, it doesn’t depress me. I accept it cheerfully as an opportunity cost of the new medium.

—John Faithful Hamer, Being a Philosopher in Social Media Land (2017)

Privacy Shmivacy

“Let nothing be done in your life, which will cause you to fear
if it is discovered by your neighbor.”—Epicurus

People who believe in the efficacy of “privacy settings” are so quaint and cute. It's like talking to people who still believe in the rhythm method.
People who believe in the efficacy of “privacy settings” are so quaint and cute. It’s like talking to people who still believe in the rhythm method.

The vast majority of us adhere to this Epicurean maxim—99% of the time—without even thinking about it. Ah, you say, but I’m actually shadier than you think. Really, what do you do? Smoke weed from time to time? Watch porn once in a while? Tell white lies to avoid going to boring parties? Drive too fast on empty highways? Come on, folks, honestly, get real! Many of your neighbors are doing the same stuff, and, regardless, in the grand scheme of things, matters such as these—matters of personal piety—don’t really amount to much. You’re not that shady, really you’re not; and, if you are in fact increasing the suffering of the world in some small way, the increase is in all likelihood negligible.

Fullscreen capture 2015-06-03 105545 AM
In “the good old days” when we had so much more privacy, this South Carolina police officer, who shot and killed an unarmed man, would have lied and gotten away with murder.

The same cannot be said of the power elite, nor can it be said of the poorly-paid guards that defend them: they regularly do hurtful things which cause a great deal of pain and suffering—this, quite reasonably, causes them to crave secrecy and fear discovery. They really don’t want their neighbors to know what they’re up to: because they are indeed shady—very shady, and they have a great deal to hide, a great deal more than you and me. Consequently, they need privacy far more than we do. This is made manifest day after day in the news. Consider the following four examples, chosen more or less at random, off the top of my head: the Wiki-leaks revelations; the democratic uprisings in the Arab world; the videotaped shooting of a 14-year-old boy by Brazilian police; the videotaped police brutality at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Examples such as these ought to give pause to those who keep whining and complaining about Facebook, Twitter, the internet, cell phones, government surveillance, and corporate conspiracies.

It’s true, we are entering a more public world, a world with less privacy—but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

—John Faithful Hamer