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Fake News, Sexual Assault, And Corruption: The Unreported Connection

It’s great to see all the interest in combating sexual abuse, fake news, and corruption, actually being covered by the mainstream. Unfortunately, much of the coverage is only hacking at a branch rather than uprooting the terminally diseased tree of the normalized toxic behavior that these plagues thrive on. There is a thin-lined threshold of toxicity that, even when present in those we love the most, necessitates distancing oneself from it. This does not mean the love for them ceases or is lessened at all. If anything it means the opposite, for the bravery not to enable fashionably toxic behavior seems like an often thankless and alienating task. This truth, that thorough self-care is a prerequisite to truly caring for each other, dispels the deadly myth of contradiction between self-care and altruism.

For many victims of abuse, the thin line of toxicity is made painfully visible, but its obscurity to society at large serves as a smokescreen that abusers rely on to manipulate and maneuver through. They revel in thinking their deceptions are clever, without even considering the true cleverness is in healing their trauma that caused such desperate depravity to begin with. In psychological literature, there is a distinction between diagnosable “clinical narcissism”, and more subtle “possible indicators” of the sickness that are normalized by society. I find this distinction counterproductive, and consider these to be different positions on a spectrum of the same sickness which should be vilified and eradicated all the same. This limiting distinction is an indicator of our culture’s acceptance and institutionalization of behavior that many cultures plainly see as unacceptable.

Psychologists label participation in the validation of normalized narcissistic behavior “narcissistic supply”. So, while it may seem unsupportive or “uncool” not to participate in narcissistic supply, this is actually the most supportive thing one can do. Of course, along with providing constructive information for healing and growth. Unfortunately, such information is unlikely to be heeded by those needing it the most, as hallmarks of narcissists are denial and psychological projection of their own pathologies onto others. This means that dedicated attempts to help are often ignored or shamed through sickened lenses of cynicism.

After years of research and experience on the subject, I have no problem risking projection and misunderstanding by abusers, in fact it is a badge of honor among those who are capable of empathy (a.k.a non-pyschopaths, or empaths.) Narcissism and other forms of psychopathy are being heavily, systematically promoted and exploited throughout all levels of society, to the point that it’s acceptance is subconsciously normalized. This is a matter of tiny investment by those standing to profit most from continued discord. This tragedy is observable even among so-called counter-culture and conscious communities, because, “don’t kill my vibes, bro. Peace and love only.”

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – C.G. Jung

This is not a conspiracy theory, but rather, a well-documented case of profit and exploitation at all costs. Let’s look at Facebook for example, a practical monopoly whose profiled manipulation of users is an open secret. They pioneered the manipulation, debasement, and commodification of users for an advertising revenue that is arguably less than simply charging a modest membership fee to opt out of manipulation.

This was detailed in a great episode of “Adam Ruins Everything.” By Facebook not adding this single, simple, and direct option of a paid membership in exchange for opting out of manipulation and commodification, one can see clearly the charade playing out in their PR stunts of “social initiatives”, and pathetically ineffective methods to combat fake news. Until this obvious solution of an opt-out option is solidly implemented, the public should be fully aware that Facebook is explicitly complicit with all the drama surrounding fake news and public manipulation.

Of course, any major media outlets discussing the fake news and Russia topic don’t even touch on this root cause, preferring to stick to very shallow finger pointing at the Russian boogeyman. This is part of the victimhood culture promoted to abdicate personal responsibility through the illusion of powerlessness. That illusion will persist as long as we continue to prioritize irrelevant media over thoughtful, useful, and original content.

One can regularly observe thoughtful content that took hours, even days to produce, being passed over by mutual friends for useless one sentence posts, pictures of generic consumption, or unoriginal meme reposts. A personal favorite is the posts just to cheer on a team or celebrity. Those millionaires certainly don’t need your support. For followers that do care, the info could hardly be more public.

We can strengthen each other through genuine interest and support, by ending celebrity worship and other forms of coddling the mainstream horror-story-cast-as-fairy-tale of individual insignificance. The impression has been constructed that we must stoop down to consistently relate to each other on any level other than small talk, argument, or insult, but there is no stooping needed when our tide of genuine community raises all ships. Let’s brush off the “10 posts a day just to be seen,” paradigm, and stand up into our true power: conscious coherence.

Profitability Has Never Excused Criminality: A Message To Facebook, Google, and Twitter:

Open source your algorithms, and eliminate all manipulative experimentation unless very specifically opted-in. Allow people to turn feed filtering off completely or set their own totally customizable parameters. Charge a modest membership fee if necessary to avoid commodifying and cheapening every aspect of communication possible.

There is no hiding behind knowingly selling vast and intricate personal data to be weaponized by the highest bidder. Make these simple and straightforward steps toward improvement, or at least finally admit that you openly worship fascism and anti-intellectualism. The line has been drawn and those in charge of these companies, along with conscious users, know with certainty that anything less is a shameful PR stunt.

It’s time to reevaluate for sustainability,

“a business model that relies entirely on psychological manipulation and mass surveillance. The capacity to manipulate people at scale is being sold to the highest bidder, and has infected every aspect of civic life, including democratic elections and journalism.

Together with climate change, this algorithmic takeover of the public sphere is the biggest news story of the early 21st century. We desperately need journalists to cover it. But as they grow more dependent on online publishing for their professional survival, their capacity to do this kind of reporting will disappear, if it has not disappeared already.” – Anatomy of a Moral Panic

“The proliferation of fake news and propaganda on Facebook and YouTube has partially been caused by a platform design that rewards content that generates the most attention irrespective of quality. The lack of self-regulation that caused this has been dressed up as platform ‘neutrality.’” – Does a free press mean more regulation for Facebook?

“The real story of algorithms and machine learning is how these technologies are affecting communities and societies. The algorithm story only makes sense when it’s rooted in a larger context of power relationships between people.”

“These systems, which would require an extraordinary level of oversight to run safely, are being deployed across the planet by naive Stanford grads with almost no human supervision, for profit, and have the potential to profoundly reshape our society.” – Do Facebook and Google have control of their algorithms anymore? A sobering assessment and a warning

The Hindu writes about their experience being “shadow banned,” on their verified Twitter account of 4.5 million followers. If this is happening to such large, verified publishers, imagine the scale of silent censorship upon marginalized individuals for simply raising awareness about certain “unprofitable” topics. We still seem collectively dumbfounded at how entire nations have fallen into fascism. How did they miss all the warning signs, and how were so many complicit, with some of the worst offenders supposedly “just doing their jobs?”

Avoiding topics or otherwise self-censoring just to please algorithms is a modern day equivalent to complicity in the past, but it’s still just as profit-driven. Let’s rise above, “just doing the algorithms job.” There are a lot more subtly sinister forces at play today dividing us than in generations past, and the profit model has been streamlined by orders of magnitude. However, we’re entirely capable of reloading the digital weapons firing at us with knowledge and love instead. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and call it “love and light,” and we have to stop believing the PR that euphemistically calls the surrender of our power “staying connected.”

Additional Resources:
Group Coherence Through Communication Discernment: Reason & Etiquette Amid Sensationalism & Commodification
‘Way too little, way too late’: Facebook’s factcheckers say effort is failing
BBC: “Facebook, Twitter and Google berated by senators on Russia”
First Draft News: “One year on, we’re still not recognizing the complexity of information disorder online”
Texas Tribune: “A Russian Facebook page organized a protest in Texas. A different Russian page launched the counterprotest.”
“News you don’t believe”: Audience perspectives on fake news