Content moderation, in my opinion, isn’t really a movement but part of this delusional thinking. The idea is to make the great digital platforms look like the front page of the New York Times circa 1980. It won’t happen. The digital realm is too vast. There can be no question that, with Joe Biden as president, we have entered a moment of reaction — a revolt against the revolt. But all the techniques of control wielded by the elites are, like their dreams, stuck in the 20th century and ineffective in the current information landscape.
To take down an opinion, or an author, or a small platform like Parler would have had a shocking impact in 1980, but today is simply swarmed over by similar opinions, authors, and platforms. This is truly a Marshall McLuhan moment, in which the message is the medium, rather than little threads of contested content.
I’m still keeping a nervous eye on developments in the exciting new field of progressive censorship. From tech giants like eBay and Amazon imposing a social-justice morality standard on products sold on their platforms, to the mania among progressive journalists for censoring Substack, Fox News, podcasts, etc. under the guise of fighting “misinformation,” to the general plague of campus mores spreading into the corporate and political environments, these are worrying times for those who value life in a society where politics doesn’t “tap you on the shoulder.” But Gurri’s book, and subsequent interviews, have helped reassure me that much of this frantic activity is just a traumatized cultural elite, accustomed to thinking of themselves as natural gatekeepers of information, trying desperately to pretend that they can bully their way back to positions of uncontested authority. Nothing is ever predestined in human affairs, but the trends all seem to be against them. We may as well try to be optimistic.
More wise words:
Advice to the troubled & confused: avoid the news. Read books. Take walks. Listen to music. You’ll be healthier, saner – & smarter too…
— Martin Gurri (@mgurri) March 8, 2021