Monday, February 20, 2017

"I Gots Millions 'o Emenies. And You is Ten or Twelve of 'em"

Donald Trump says the news media is the enemy of the American people.

A statement, which on the surface is complete trash and, even after deep introspection, is deep trash.

Neil Mackay says social media is “detestable” and represents “everything that is wrong with the world . . . I think it de-intellectualized us I think it has robs us of introspection, which is the most important thing a human being can have.”

Mackay is editor of the 18-year-old Glasgow, Scotland-based Sunday Herald, which, in an unrelated twist, is celebrating its 18th anniversary with plugs tied in with writer David Sharman’s reportage on Mackay’s comments.

I guess it might be fair to say Sharman or his editors saw an opportunity to smash the dull reportage of the paper’s 18th anniversary together with Mackay’s click-ready comments – but you’ve already seen the irony.

(Something else odd: says Mackay himself penned the missive at, but I’m finding it in an article by Paul Trainer at that website.)

So why, you’re aksing, did I bring Donald Trump and his asshattery on news media into this?

Because just as the news media isn’t the enemy of the American people, social media isn’t the enemy of introspection, or intellectualism. Oh, I suppose it can be. It does get pretty echoey. But for the most part I use social media to connect with other writers, to gather research and information for books I’m working on, and, at times, for introspection. I don’t even need German music to introspect, much to the horror of Sherlock Holmes.

Social media is a tool, and depending on how you use it, it can be both good and bad. But those who want to introspect can do so with or without social media, while those who don’t gaze at their own navels from time to time can ignore their bellybuttons to their heart’s content whether there’s social media around or not.

Says Delta1212 at, commenting on the story (summing up pretty well my thoughts on the subject):

It didn’t rob us of introspection. It just made introspective people aware of how many people around them aren’t.

The problem with social media is not that it changed anyone. It’s that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we tend to assume that the people around us are more or [less] like us. Social media opens a window into the thoughts of every person who uses it, which means that we have all suddenly discovered that we are surrounded by crazy people.

That the world didn’t seem to be like this before is a function of our former ignorance, not a result of the medium of our enlightenment changing our natures in any fundamental way.

Thus, Mackay can still be introspective in a world where social media exists, and those who weren’t introspective to begin with can go on being self-oblivious with a new platform to do it on.

The pity here, of course, is that we could all have a conversation on the detestibility and absence of social media introspection along with Mackay – but to do it, we’d have to get on some kind of social media platform. Oh, I guess we could all travel to Glasgow and try to meet up with the man and gaze out the train windows together, but that’s fiscally impossible and rendered grossly inefficient by the social media ties that could bind us all together if we could get beyond the roadblocks that exist in our own heads and are only mirrored on social media.

All of this, of course, was explained centuries ago – in an era devoid of today’s social media – by Plato as he described his Allegory of the Cave.

We are all of us watching the theater, the shadow of the spectacle, going on inside our own heads. Occasionally, we may rid ourselves of our ties and walk to the daylight, and thus see the spectacle in reality, not as shadows on the cave wall. Social media users aren’t all captives, and those prone to introspection aren’t all those who’ve escaped and are walking toward the natural light.

Still doesn’t explain Trump, however.

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