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The Batshit Insanity of Online Discourse

  • Not Rival Voices

  • March 6, 2020

Online discourse is batshit insane. That much is clear. The question, as with all phenomena, is not whether this is good or bad. Good and bad is for cart-before-the-horses-putting inbreds. The logically antecedent question, an thus morally superior, question is: Why? Why is online discourse batshit insane?

Bat Eating

First: eating bats.

Eating bats is disgusting. You wouldn’t eat bats, and I wouldn’t either. But some people do. Some people eat bats. These people meet one another, sit down together, attend bat eating banquets, and happily chat about how they prefer having their bat prepared. I know, hideous.

And yet. 

We, questioners of the why,morally superior men, are we not also bat eaters, in some way? Do we not, even often, do things which trigger others’ disgust responses?

Of course we do and of course we are. We are bat eaters, you and I. You know it and so do I. We, the very online, we’re all bat eaters. We ignore the norms around us. Not even with malice and often without any self-awareness. Breaking norms is just not a big deal for us. The same way eating bats is just not a big deal to some. It’s just something you do.

Isn’t that, after all, why we came to be very online to begin with? Isn’t that why we’re VOP – Very Online People – instead of mere Very Important normies? 

Why don’t the bat eaters just stop eating bats? Why don’t we? Why not stop breaking norms? 

Because they can’t, and neither can we. We suffer from pathological low disgust  – maybe blame your mother for insufficient early exposure to pathogens if you’re into that kind of thing. And thus we go merrily along eating our bats breaking our norms and finding ourselves booted from banquets IRL groups and discourse. Our inability to stop musing out loud on our high disgust ideas is our bat eating and, what is worse, we muse them in an exhibitionist way, idea flashers that we are. 

So we’ve been booted, whether or not it was deserved. But you and I are creatures of community no matter how much we indict them. And, here, through this distorting mirror, you and I found community. A community of others, others like us, others who are excited(!!!) to discuss our high disgust ideas with us. 

This arrangement that we had of being booted from IRL discourse and forming our enclaves in underground IRC channels or on our obscure blogs was all fine and dandy. 

Social Media Mimesis

But then, social media. (And that is the most ominous sentence I’ll ever write.)

Social media means our enclaves are no more. Entryism abounds, normies joining our very online world en masse. And what do they do? What they always do which led to our booting in the first place: they see prevailing norms and they imitate and they police those that don’t. They run their usual mimesis process, but now on our Formerly-Very-High-Disgust-Ideas. 

This entryism of our former oppressors grates us and we react: we created “normie” and “NPC” to distinguish ourselves from them. 4chan’s exasperation with reddit’s r/greentext is our collective exasperation with the state of the internet. We are the original bat-eaters, not them. We are the ones that were booted from our IRL communities and  forced to create our own, not them. And them, these normies entryists that first booted us now invade our spaces, coming online just because “everyone else does it too”.

What is worse: the normies have arrived, but the normies also exist Mainly Offline. Meaning that they take our bat-eating ideas which they’re running their mimetic processes on into the real world. No one predicted this and no one was ready for this. Normies join out bat eating insane online discourse and then port it to the real world. IRL norms become craziers and you need to be even more extreme to get booted from IRL discourse. The accelerating booting-mimesis cycle ensures that over a long-enough timeline IRL discourse becomes as bat-eating insane as online discourse. Which is exactly why to know what politics looks like now you only needed to be Very Online in 2015. And if you track what is happening online now…

Peter Thiel, in his startup course, talked about how America is a country of heavy tails. It has both the riches and the poorest people. The most obese and the fittest athletes. The accelerating booting-mimesis cycle is turning the whole world into a fat-tailed world. The Internet is the fat-tailed version of fat-tailed America and the accelerating booting-mimesis cycle is turning the whole world into fat-tailed America.

You can follow our dear author on Twitter @NoSilverV

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