Friday, November 1, 2019

There's a reason people regularly tell you not to read the youtube comments!!

   I get it.. you're alone on your phone so many hours a day reading and watching mindless shit, that you begin to crave attention; you want to feel less alone after a long purge of this deep spiral.. you want affirmation!! You need community! Likes!? (sad)

For many, that means taking to the cringy comments section for social interaction.

   It's important to remember that he comment section in most online spaces tends to attract a larger percentage of (single/lonely/often bitter/cis-men/socially-isolated) folks statistically, who spread their (often critical, misogynistic, and/or hate-based) opinions and worldview based on that isolation.
   Comment spaces are in no way a reflection of greater societal opinions!! This is critical to understand... (unless your sample gets so large that it truly begins to imitate your population.)

   People who are generally happy with things/films/people/etc.. don't tend to regularly haunt the comment section alone on their computers and critique it; they're more likely to be offline/out living their lives in social situations and learning/interacting instead from their peers.
   Any intro statistics course/book will drill this concept into you endlessly; to get an unbiased statistic (meaning something you want to know about a particular population) you need to use a random sampling method from your chosen population, or sample nearly all of that population anyway.
 My most recent encountered example inspiring this post was from youtube comments (typical!)... particularly from all the people who had (assumedly) watched either the Season 1 trailer on youtube or some amount of the series "Easy" on netflix. (A friend recommended... haven't watched it yet)


  The first ten or twelve comments I encountered were exceptionally critical, and I wondered why that might be; is the show really that awful (it certainly could be!), or is bias sneaking in? (Particularly noting that the show is about love/relationships/sex, etc..) What do all the women think? Happy people think? (I see so few of them represented overtly in the comments section generally)
   We know that netflix removed ratings years ago for at least *some* similar reasons.. namely negativity bias, but also to get increased viewership of course! (Something prime video ever-so-painfully clings to for ethics reasons probably.... I respect it, however flawed and unhelpful)
   ...But long story short.. we rely on youtube comments/ratings now. Interestingly, the general upvote didn't match the first ten comments at all.. it had a whopping 3.2k up-votes/500 down. Why? Maybe satisfied people are good enough with a simple one-click thumbs up?
   In stats you also need to use a large pool of samples to get a good result; the bigger the pool, the more accurate your statistic is. Bias can show up in countless ways; particularly in an online space like this. It seems that sometimes the loudest/angriest few tend to drown out the complacent larger crowd overall. (I think immediately to extremist movements)
     We refer to user-generated comment spaces in statistical terms as "self-selection bias" (certain folks feel more compelled to comment than others) and in concert as "non-response bias" (of course, not everyone who watches the video also comments). As a result, we see themes like negativity bias arise; (ie: those that hated the show the most feel most strongly; and are more likely to comment!) :)
   We gotta give Netflix at least some credit.. but youtube algorithms could use some major work too!! Until we find a better way of polling/sorting commentary online, never feel bad if you want to just skip the damn comments altogether; they're a great research tool, but so often weaponized!

...butt-hurt is real... but so is a broken system, combative partisan politics and income inequality. If you ask me, we need more love, respect and understanding in online spaces. <3 p="">   

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

On "stupidity"...

It can be said that we're, above all else, an incredibly social species. We're hard-wired to want to hear "gossip" and watch other people discuss things, and talk about others the vast majority of the time; and it turns out we do! Well over 60% of everything we say to each other during the day is simply about other people.

In fact, our ability to communicate our wants and needs through advanced language and symbolism (interpersonal communication via culture) is literally what helped make our brains so big! You don't have to like it, but perhaps have some respect for our species keen ability to navigate and obsess over socialization!

The 'Kardashians' phenomena is an ideal example here...

An online chum and I were discussing the idea of idiocy today...  a politicized word I find myself using less and less as an adult.. and then flat-earthers jolted into the conversation!! .. (a concept I'd historically feel quite content combining into the same sentence as "idiocy")... but wait.. what IS idiocy? A general lack of knowledge? A lack of acceptance? A smaller brain? An inability to trust institutions? A person with low IQ? (our IQ tests discriminate based on race, FYI)
Is liking/watching the Kardashians an idiotic thing? Why?

Do any nerds here remember that episode of Star Trek where the concept of "small talk" was laughably labeled as silly and unnecessary by data and others?
...that episode made me a little uncomfy. What's wrong with bonding with others through small chat? What constitutes everything else?

Are we (in our ever-persistent pursuit of progress) a social species consciously trying to break away from our "chains of social-ness?"

(Lordy help us Seattelights!! :P ..we already ignore all live humans in public)

What about oppressed groups who rely solely on group solidarity and social function to unite uprisings? What about those without community? What about all the people that (willingly or not) use small-talk to get their needs met? I had a lot of questions after that episode... but the idea of oppression always changes my perspective on things... "idiocy" and "stupidity" being prime examples.

Understanding oppression is critical here... (yeah.. you knew it was fucking coming)

Imagine you're living in poverty and you're working 3 jobs. You're chronically stressed from your wage-labor life.. both physically and mentally. You often feel discriminated against by those you're supposed to trust (i.e. your doctors/lawyers/the police/etc) and you have to work weekends with little to no vacation time. You have a hard time paying for general bills, rent, and healthcare. Life is tough, and it's fucking stressful. You have to make sacrifices.. a lot.

I'd argue that if you're truly stressed, you don't generally go home at the end of the week (with what little time off you have) and watch something serious like sci-fi or documentaries or something of any real seriousness or complexity.. instead, as a wage slave, you probably tend to watch things that represent capitalist fetishism, things that represent what you don't have and things which help numb you;

#1; rich people. doing rich things.. (as we're living in a capitalist universe, getting small glimpses of what it's like to be a person who's "made it" is our ideal.. people who aren't attached to the chronic stress of poverty and who can afford luxuries like time, health, and recreation, and those who focus instead on leisure activities)

#2; frivolous social matters... [watching others stress out instead of yourself; and watching self-induced affluent 'stress' (vacationing/beauty/social elitism/party planning) instead of real stress like bills, child support, medical needs, etc.. being able to turn off real life, and imagining these beautiful celebrities instead are your family/friends/etc]...

One can imagine that the more 'mindless' the TV shows available in a place, the more poverty, discrimination and wage disparity you see overall .. and it turns out this is an actual correlation too.
Oh..and the wage/medical/work/housing/interpersonal discrimination crap.. is very, very real...
we see the disturbing numbers from studies again and again..

- Black mothers are more likely to die in childbirth in this country than white mothers... black women also suffer much more chronic stress than white women, as well as medical discrimination in terms of pain management..

- communities of color don't live as long as white communities overall..

- indigenous populations have higher disease rates like diabetes due to lack of medical care and power/water/food distribution infrastructure...

- children of color have higher asthma rates than whites (due to historic redlining of neighborhoods predominantly into inner cities/spaces near road traffic/pollution/etc)

the list goes on and on...

Fact is, life is considerably harder to navigate for people who don't own property, who don't have lots of money, who lack anglo-saxon sounding names and who don't look typically white in the US.
These are also people with high stress rates, that often choose to watch silly rich people on TV as a form of escapism from poverty and daily discrimination.

In essence, the 'Kardashians' show is literally what a stressed-out, unequal, and often impoverished nation craves.. the socialization aspect we crave as humans..
and a show about rich people who socialize about frivolous rich people things, instead of the struggles of ordinary daily life in a capitalist wage-labor country built of the backs of oppression. TV shows don't account for idiocy in this way; they point to a deeper oppression we simply wish to turn-off for an hour or so every few days. That's hardly idiotic.. that's therapeutic.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

On Solidarity

Many white settlers here in North America like to feel better about themselves when they think they're taking the moral high ground based on others actions...

I'm better than ________.
At least I'm not a ______.
You name it .. a racist, a manipulative person, a sexist, a con-artist, a rapist, an abuser, a murderer, a thief, a gunman, a mysogynist, a nazi, a bigot, a pedophile, a smuggler, a killer...
..a *gulp*... trump supporter?!
...the list goes on and on...
And sure.. some ppl are trash.. hell, lots of ppl are trash!

But are you really better?
So maybe you never shot up a school, or raped babies, or blew up a bunch of nuns, or whatever the fuck else..
..but are you really going to call yourself a good/moral/wise person based on what you DON'T do?!
All kinds of awful people of ALL kinds exist.. but if you're a white colonizer living on stolen indigenous land you're sure as shit still one of them.
Get off your high horse and think of yourself as one of the bad people already.
Then go do something about it.

It's easier to think of other bad behaviors and people (like racists) as a lost cause.. those "other" awful people you simply can't stand to look at or talk to..

Yeah, well indigenous folks and POC don't like fucking dealing with opressors either. They're just forced to endure us every damn second of every damn day against their will. That's forced upon their lives.

I try to do good. I know that consistently open/non-judgemental dialog can and does change the minds and hearts of bad ppl over time. I know because I changed.

I grew up surrounded by abuse.
I was taught to abuse.
As a youngster, I abused.
I also choose not to abuse now.
I unlearned that shit.
(Thnks, feminism/therapy/friends/allies..)

People aren't born monsters.
Racism isn't biologically innate in certain humans.. it's learned.

I also know I'm not going to change minds by preaching to the choir either.

It's always seemed unfair (for me as a priviledged/rich/whiteIDd person) to not actively use my many privileges to try to dismantle systemic and internalized racism every chance I possibly get.

So I choose to talk to racists...
Because I am part of the problem.
...and I owe it to others to be part of the solution.

I don't like dialog with bigots anymore than anyone else.. but my education was never about me or for me. It was never about making things easier for me.

(the world doesn't revolve around me) education was in solidarity alongside those allowing me to be an ally.

I went to school on Duwamish land.. not for myself, but for all those who can't.

Why not strike up a conversation with a shitty person today?