We are programmed just to do
Anything you want us to
We are the robots
For those of us who started on dial-up BBSes, the internet was always a treasured possession. Created in the 1960s, expanded in the 1970s, and open to the public in 1987, it represented an ability to connect around the world without having to use troublesome and expensive (or phracked) long-distance calling time.
It was not the only network; other private networks existed, including satellite and microwave, not to mention the UUCP and related message-forwarding networks that could get files and messages around the world. However, it showed us a certain ideal: all of humanity sharing information, Star Trek style.
Fast forward thirty years and we have seen that the internet could not survive humanity. There are two pincers to the human attack on the internet: first, the shopkeepers, and second, the rabble, as usual. The two have a codependent relationship.
Most of us in the BBS community were adaptive generalists and outliers both, meaning that we had general intellectual skills to do just about anything, but fit in nowhere. The guys writing their own BBS software, hacking up boards to go online, and so forth were painters, guitarists, lawyers, policemen, colonels, writers, and doctors in normal life. They were just smart guys — all but a few were male — who could bend that intelligence to wrap around some gadget.
We were outliers simply because our brains did not work like those of others, mainly because we were not extraverts and we were not lowercase-c conservatives, meaning those who only did something if they saw everyone else doing it. There is safety in numbers, and most people follow the herd because (a) they know they will not be blamed if something goes wrong but they were doing what everyone else is doing and (b) they fear they will be blamed if they do something other than what everyone else is doing, and something goes wrong.
The psychology of the herd is the psychology of the individual who does not want to become a victim. Sheep form big circles when predators approach not to defeat those predators, but because each individual sheep jockeys to find a place in the middle of the herd where he will not be eaten. In the face of danger, the herd panics because the individuals panic; if they simply enacted a strategic stampede, they would trample and crush the wolves, bears, and hormonal teenage farmboys that they fear.
Outliers are the people who, when the herd starts circling, either head off into the woods or attack the wolf. We are just wired differently; we also tend to be the tiny group that does just about everything good in humanity, since a herd emulating the past usually addresses the last threat, not the next threat. For example, circling herds are easy to corral over a cliff, at which point you can feast at ease on the meat sprawled before you.
To us, the internet provided a golden opportunity to reach out around the world. For a few years, from 1987 to 1993, things were really great; then, America Online mailed out free diskettes to the world and signed up just about everyone. Things did not hit the nadir, then, because you still had to insert the disk and configure your Windows 3.1 or MacOS 7.5 machine to make the call to the local AOL dial-up. You still had to learn to use some software based around what the internet needed, not merely a comfortable interface.
Things got worse immediately as clueless people flooded USENET, typing in all caps and demanding that we pay attention to whatever their fetishes and weird desires were. Things got worse around 1998 or so when cable companies rolled out broadband. Things got downright awful in 2007 when the smartphone introduced the left side of the bell curve to the internet, and the true idiot horde of democracy signed on. At that point, the internet flipped: the mainstream consciousness, always a bunch of lies that people tell each other to feel better about being tools and losers, became the norm, and the outliers who were once at home on the internet became outliers.
Outliers like myself became obsolete at that point. The group no longer needed us to innovate, or so it thought. It got its first warning that this was not true, however, when MySpace went from king of the internet to a has-been worth a measely half-billion to getting sold later for spare parts at a tiny $50m. When you kick out the thought-leaders, the herd circles around and becomes repetitive; entropy wins at a crawl; soon there is no reason to go to those services because who needs to go somewhere special to hear the same gibberish, delusion, and slavish rationalization of obedient conformity that one can hear everywhere else? Churches face the same problem; when they get too secular, and too consumerist and Leftist — these mean the same thing — their audience tends to flee.
I believed in Reddit for a long time because the software is perfect. You post links, discussions, or images; people respond to those. There are specialized topic areas. Everything is just enough oriented toward the internet, and not a comfortable interface for the narcissistic and thoughtless herd-dweller in the grips of socially-legitimized hubris, that by nature it filters out the thundering herd. Unfortunately it attracts a group we call “eckshually,” the fedora-wearing basement-dwellers who are the smartest people they know in their local ghettos, trailer parks, Starbucks, or Whole Foods, and therefore assume via the Dunning-Kruger Effect that they are in fact intelligent, when they are in reality flamingly stupid, just not as stupid as the other losers around them.
At some point in the 2010s, Reddit lost sight of what it was and wanted to become Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. This meant dumbing down the interface for a new horde of losers, and also, removing anything controversial. I have great sympathy of them in this quest because exposure to the nu-internet audience has shown me just how messed up many people are; the flood of violent threats, cruelty, bullying, pedophilia, gaslighting, lying, and posturing will make you distrust the general public and in fact see them as self-deceiving, self-destructive, and parasitically consumptive people. However, the Reddit admins decided to behave like this group, and instead of removing bad behavior, they removed controversial topics as well, lumping the two together like the good Dunning-Kruger drones they are.
In doing so, they engaged in viewpoint discrimination:
Viewpoint discrimination is a form of content discrimination particularly disfavored by the courts. When the government engages in content discrimination, it is restricting speech on a given subject matter. When it engages in viewpoint discrimination, it is singling out a particular opinion or perspective on that subject matter for treatment unlike that given to other viewpoints.
When censoring, one has two choices: censor by quality (good) or by quantity (such as by topic). If something is of a quantity you do not want, meaning a type of thing, you remove it so that only your viewpoint remains; this is the basis of political correctness and other censorship in general: when all voices critical of the Party, or ideally even those simply failing to praise the Party enough, are removed, you have only praise for the Party. Everyone can be happily equally deluded and pacifistic then, settle for compromises instead of realistic forward action, and keep consuming and working in order to keep the system afloat for a few more years, at least until some German teenager lands in Red Square and the surface tension of the illusion pops.
I will always favor censoring by quality. Removing off-topic material, obscenities, racial slurs (why Reddit does not censor these site-wide is beyond me), incoherence, low-relevance, low-fact, and low-insight material is how you make a healthy forum; call it “data eugenics,” but it works. Removing viewpoints, even when well-stated, however, is the hallmark of a site that has gone from being cyberspace, or a place where people can interact and share information, to propaganda, or a place dedicated to manipulating minds. Reddit transitioned to the latter, accelerating dramatically after 2014.
I hung on for some time, but with its recent removals, Reddit made it clear that it was not punishing any violations of its content policy, but merely removing conservative voices which were too effective: both strongly conservative, meaning not merely “Christian libertarians” like the “safe” public conservatives from Conservatism, Inc., and also not a Hollywood Nazi stereotype. Somehow, the Hollywood Nazis hang around, mainly because they drive people from conservatism, and the conservatives-who-are-not-conservatives are welcome. However, real conservatives are not, although I think this is more discrimination against people who shatter the illusion that the unreal but socially popular is real, more than bias against conservatism per se; like all entertainment, Reddit sells delusions to fools so that they go back to their tool jobs in the morning, feeling smart for having read something on the site for the smartest of the dumbest that makes them feel like they are in control, living their best life, and so on.
Reddit destroyed hours of work I threw into maintaining Ask A Conservative by removing me from it, since they want it to be full of cucks and losers like their other conservative subs, since actual conservatism (like any form of realism) threatens them. This is unconscionable and constitutes theft, but even more, shows that Reddit is not cyberspace. It is a walled garden for the management of opinions. This means that like MySpace, it is losing relevance, and trying to keep its remaining audience unified in obedience so that it can manage them, even if the rest of the world has gone on.
Because I liked the platform, I made it into a space where people could figure out the why behind conservative thinking; this is the only effective way to “reach across the aisle,” since we cannot compromise between radically different — egalitarianism versus realism — ideas, only understand each other and possibly, carve out spaces for each other. Reddit feared that, so they removed me, but now with the disappearance of The_Donald (also censored and hounded into oblivion) Reddit has driven away normal people and is focusing exclusively on the fedora eckshuallies who work as Starbucks baristas, Whole Foods checkers, call center workers, and other jobs where obedience to social norms is really important and finding actual answers in the real-world is irrelevant. Reddit would rather have a small herd of losers than reach out to the wider audience and be relevant to humanity and human evolution (rather than “progress,” this is a sensible term). This means that they are going the way of MySpace, which is a sad end to such a promising platform.
As I have said for years, in order for Reddit to thrive, it must go the other way. Facebook is a trend which will, like Friendster, MySpace, and LiveJournal before it, fade away. The audience is already splitting. The smartphone herd want chat and image boards, like Twitter and Instagram; the normal and functional people are defecting from social media in general as its intrusive data collection, manipulative advertising (now mainstream with The Social Dilemma, and general creepiness as the abusive and controlling aspects of humanity come out in the userbase. In 2010, everyone I knew had Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts, but now no one I know in real life actually uses these. The cutting edge audience is taking the sane normals with them in fleeing, which leaves only the loser horde and those imitating them, i.e. the fedora-wearing “iconoclasts” that life left behind who still want to be the smartest nerds in their group of dumb.
As of now, I abandon all efforts to work with this platform, as I have abandoned Facebook, mainly because the audience that I want to reach is either gone or going from these places. The future belongs to the internet, not to those who wanted to control it and make it into weird little fiefdoms where life losers could finally tell other people how to think. The great irony of Reddit is that its admins have the same psychology as its users, and that dooms it to fall away, instead of rising to the heights that it could have in the hands of more intelligent outliers.