How Big Tech rules the technological society through culture — Analysis
Silicon Valley Liberals are capturing the online culture through owning its propagation means
In the early days of the internet, optimism was high about the potential future of technological society. Techno-utopians naively hoped that a society running on the so-called ‘information superhighway’ would be armed with facts, and civic life would evolve past the tired dialectic of partisan politics.
Both what they expected and what actually happened are very different. Far from achieving enlightenment, we’re confronting a world of conspiracy theories and alternative facts produced within echo chambers and widely disseminated through social media.
While so-called anti-disinformation activists such as the Biden administration’s Nina Jankowicz play an active role in whitewashing Ukrainian nationalist volunteers who committed war crimes in the Donbass, others in the media seek to blame conservative speakers such as Tucker Carlson for crimes committed by homegrown mass shooters.
To understand the reasons for the current state of affairs, we must recall the events in the first twenty years of this century. For all the utopianism and hope that defined the end of the 20th century, we still haven’t ended starvation or inequality, accomplished world peace, or established a colony on Mars. We now have a culture conflict and many trivialities, which threaten to make the human race dependent on low-stakes preoccupations.
The failure of the technological revolution to bring about a new age is something we can regret. Big Tech’s monocultural hegemony is the main reason this utopia failed to come about. Big Tech, which has engineered the current state of political discourse, has been subsumed by leftist beliefs—both from within and without.
Silicon Valley liberalism and the counter-establishment
Remember Usenet? You probably don’t. In the ‘90s, Usenet was a series of message boards that existed on an alternate network before the dominance of the “World Wide Web.” Usenet and other disparate networks existed alongside the web – and continue to do so. Anyone could use Usenet with a client program, just as you can today access the World Wide Web via browsers like Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox. This decentralized network of message boards – “newsgroups” – served as sounding boards for people to have conversations. The boards functioned in the same manner as forum, with a focus on specific topics and areas of interest.
Many of the terms used these days by the LGBT+ and social justice communities first emerged or took on prominence through these Usenet communities, including the term ‘cisgender’ (describing a person whose gender identity corresponds with his or her biological sex – the opposite of transgender). This concept wasn’t really popular until Tumblr and other proto-social media sites like Tumblr made it mainstream. These concepts have become mainstream political discourse, having been incubated by echo chambers. Even Democratic politicians use pronouns.
But just as radical liberal ideas began to trickle out of the insular Usenet intelligentsia, eventually latching on to the centrist liberalism of the establishment, so too did the counter-establishment on imageboards – the first of which was 4chan. This counter-establishment aligned itself around conservatism.
True, it’s a mode of conservatism that’s no doubt different from what the Founding Fathers and classical liberals of the Age of Enlightenment would have identified with. “Reject modernity. Embrace tradition,” or so the slogan goes. It is a shibboleth often spoken and then regurgitated ad nauseam by disconnected, self-declared conservatives who regard the present state of conservatism as “progressivism in slow motion.” Unhappy with the way things are, the disenfranchised turn toward a form of cultural neo-fundamentalism that is laden with a sense of nostalgia for things that never were.
The ‘manosphere’ exists in parallel with social justice activists who also imagine that the world is against them – and that is the shared history that the soft-critics of Big Tech in the mainstream media frequently ignore. It’s easier for them to blame things like MAGA, 4chan, video games, and individual actors for Express yourself their “toxicity” on the internet rather than blame the internet for capturing our expressive life the way that it has.
GamerGate: The Silicon Valley liberals’ whipping boy
Taylor Lorenz is a liberal tech journalist who, just like many other establishment journalists, rails against Big Tech’s disempowering of minorities and marginalized persons. She sees the disempowerment of Big Tech through harassment. Harassment, she says, is a significant issue in today’s social media landscape. If you’re being shouted down by someone who’s making fun of your IQ, your looks, or the fact that you chug down 3 gallons of water a day, and you can’t slap him through the monitor, it’s understandable why you’d feel actively disempowered.
The establishment press frequently cites GamerGate as the unlikely social movement to kick off the trend of angry gamer nerds, mainly white, Christian males, on the internet feeling empowered enough to harass anyone who makes them feel small or alienated like some 21st century ‘Revenge of the Nerds’. And companies such as Twitter, they argue, don’t take these young men seriously enough to want to do anything about it.
GamerGate, for those who are not familiar with it was an anti-establishment group that gamers created in reaction to the 2014 wokegentrification. The movement arose from an accusation of a feminist writer who was benefited by cronyism. It has since grown into a culture war in the industry. The term is used in the liberal gaming press as a shorthand for “male supremacist neckbeards threatening to rape and kill women in the videogame industry.”
GamerGate is now being cited more frequently by journalists than any other participant. A simple Google search reveals no fewer than a dozen references to GamerGate in the past month alone – all in connection to the shooting in Buffalo, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, or some demand for increased censorship and an end to free speech.
GamerGate, as it turns out, was an expression of Silicon Valley’s culture hegemony. It was a counter-establishment reaction. Elon Musk made his recent move to purchase Twitter. Now, he is the symbol of the entire disenfranchised who fight back against the establishment.
That’s not to justify the people who behave badly online, or to demonize them as wrong-thinkers. While we all have the right to express our views, our behaviour in real life is often influenced by how other people react to them. Online, it is possible to become as antisocial and as a group of people as you wish, while ritually throwing stones at other members of the society.
But the existence of a counter-establishment demonstrates something that Lorenz and her peers are quick to ignore.
Because technologists are able to export their cultural capital and wealth globally, there is a lot of leftist thinking today. These technoliberal ideas tend to be strongly anti-male and, in some cases, even anti-white.
For example, look at transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke’s ‘Contributor Covenant’ – a legally codified set of do’s and don’ts for an inclusive (read: ‘woke’) workplace, which has seen widespread adoption in Silicon Valley. This article was written by the author. Covenant also co-authored the ‘Manifesto Post-Meritocracy’The pledge to abrogate principles “mainly benefit those with privilege, to the exclusion of underrepresented people in technology.”
The fight against ‘white supremacy,’ while valid perhaps in the 1940s up to the 1990s, is an older, now obsolete paradigm that only serves to inflict damage on the fabric of society in the present. Silicon Valley’s brand of liberalism, however, is obsessed with immutable characteristics such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. Big Tech also chooses to deprive black men of the right to vote.
This rhetoric – paraDoxically promoted by white men within Big Tech who want to prove their allyship – promotes a system that values identity over merit. This, in turn, has led to young men coming together around their identity, trying to find empowerment in all the wrong places – in the incel subculture, or on white supremacist discord servers, where they find mutual solace in their sense of shared victimhood. It’s almost hard to blame them when the media and Big Tech bombard us all with messaging that vilifies certain immutable characteristics.
As difficult as it is to swallow, it’s not entirely the fault of these arguably disempowered men who seek to regain their place in society (some of whom do want supremacy, as opposed to equality – if only out of revenge). It is not the fault of social justice activists or leftists that people feel disempowered. And it’s just not productive to lay the blame solely at their feet.
Big Tech wants big expression – but only for a small minority
There is a culture war that’s happening beneath the shadow of Big Tech, which, for all its pandering to ‘diversity’, refused to take a side until it affected its bottom line. And, given how Big Tech’s stakeholders and investors come from the same coastal wealth as the engineers who design these platforms, it’s no surprise that it takes the side against counter-establishment values.
Big Tech is poised to continue spreading its influence throughout our daily lives and how it governs our interaction with other people on social media. Although it condemns bigotry, and brags about being able to empower people to voice their opinions, Big Tech secretly concentrates control over where and how that speech is made in the hands the elite. And they love it – they make money off it. Platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter weaponize our very human desire to express – making small gestures to make people feel personally empowered and thriving off the viral potential of cancel culture and mean-spirited ‘debate.’ But ultimately, these gestures are merely an illusion to keep us distracted in our rage toward our political and ideological opponents.
For all its virtue signaling, Big Tech still takes investments and cues from totalitarian interests, political lobbyists, special interest groups, and sells user data to not-so democratic governments all over the world—including the US government.
Big Tech’s creeping influence is making us naive and sleepy. The media wants us to focus our rage on disenfranchised white men or expressions of counter-culture – meanwhile, we’re being strangled by Silicon Valley’s myriad tentacles, slaves to the technological society that has arisen in place of the technological utopia we had hoped for.
These opinions, statements and thoughts are the sole opinion of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of RT.