Cory Doctorow: Social media isn’t particularly great at persuasion. But it is excellent at finding small, diffuse groups that are receptive to a message, and targeting those groups.
That’s great if you’re a refrigerator business looking to find people who are shopping for a refrigerator. It’s even better if you’re an LGBTQ kid in a small town, looking to find community.
It’s not so great for society if you’re looking to organize people who might be inclined to believe that a Presidential candidate is operating a child rape ring out of the basement of a popular Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.
The reason people are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories is that so many of the trends destroying the US and planet are, in fact, conspiracies:
The opioid epidemic was a conspiracy between rich families like the Sacklers and regulators who rotate in and out of industry. The 737 crisis was caused by Boeing’s conspiracy to cut corners and aviation regulators’ conspiracy to allow aerospace to regulate itself.
Senators conspire to liquidate their positions ahead of coronavirus lockdown, well-heeled multinationals conspire to get 94.5% of the “small business” PPP fund, Big Tech conspires to fix wages with illegal collusion while fast food franchises do the same with noncompetes.
And how different is Pizzagate from the real life of Richard Epstein? Also, Donald Trump may not technically be a serial rapist, but he’s certainly a serial sex abuser.
Additionally, conspiracies often make people feel at home, and provide them with status.
And now two points that are mine and by me:
The people profiled in the recent Atlantic piece about Qanon seem lovely. I don’t want any of them making public policy because Qanon is bonkers. But I’d be happy to have any of them as my neighbors and friends.
Also, as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m deeply immersed in ancient Rome now, and Qanon reminds me of the mystery cults that thrived in the first century One of those cults became Christianity. So maybe Qanon will go away soon, but don’t bet too much on it.
Also on Cory Doctorow’s Pluralistic: Dr. Seuss coronavirus parodies, including “Oh, the Places You Won’t Go.”
And a Hong Kong ice cream shop is selling tear-gas flavored ice cream, which one customer says is far too tear-gas-like, which reminds me of the Monty Python “Crunchy Frog” sketch.