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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, March 02, 2012

THE NEW ISOLATIONISM

"Get your hands off my body! (Except when I want other to pay for what I do to my body.)"

When the Internet was becoming popular and people could see how things were trending, many warned about the kind of isolation that it can bring. Instead of meeting people face to face you chat with them, text them, or talk on camera. Instead of playing a game together you play online. Instead of interacting with people, you interact with your computer which sometimes can involve someone else.

Yet in a certain sense, people are often less isolated because of the internet. I used to chat with a teenage girl with Cerebral Palsey, an Indonesian schoolteacher who used me to help improve her English, and several Australians who would keep me up to date on their news. I was online talking to Russian friends when the military coup almost destroyed the end of Russian communism. I remember days of the blackout wondering how they were.

At the same time, the isolation is real and you can see it in our culture today. And one of the most stark examples of this is political isolation. Think back a few weeks ago, when Andrew Breitbart made a crack about the rapes at Occupy events. Markos Moulitsas and Keith Olbermann immediately responded with contempt and dismissal: crazy right wing bomb thrower, there were no rapes!

This wasn't out of defensiveness, they really didn't know about the events at Occupy camps. Olbermann had to be specifically showed a rap sheet of all the rapes and assaults that have been reported at Occupy events (we don't know how many were buried or covered up by leadership and women who didn't want to hurt the movement) before he modified his absolute rejection of the possibility any such thing had happened. He just didn't know.

You might ask how on earth someone in his position in the news and with all the information available could possibly be so isolated from the facts but its actually pretty easy. These days, if you want to, you can connect all over the place but only to things you want to hear. Its part of the niche marketing and targeted nature of the internet. There are plenty of general interest sites, but the biggest and most popular tend to focus on something specific. If the only sites you read are Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, Huffington Post and so on, you'll only get that point of view - and lack of coverage on certain events.

And what's worse is that the legacy media is complicit in this isolation. Remember the Tea Party rallies? For months the media just stonewalled them: they didn't exist. No reporting, no commentary, no mention. Then they started to mention them, but only in the context of "a few old crazies ginned up by the GOP, a dying movement of people manipulated by evil corporate interests" and barely a mention at that. There were a lot of people on the left shocked and astounded by the November 2010 results because they just didn't see it coming. They really, honestly believed the Democratic Party and media narrative about the Tea Party Movement.

Topics we on the right know and discuss regularly, the left often is largely unaware of such as Fast & Furious, Solyndra, Pigford, and so on. They either have little carefully massaged information or simply don't know anything about them. Not out of stupidity but the fact that they don't bother reading any sources that even talk about them. What little they know has been filtered and shaped and spun in a way to protect their allies so they are largely ignorant of the facts.

This is partly why the left hated, hated Andrew Breitbart, because he had a knack of forcing topics and news stories onto the legacy media despite their best efforts. And they were always stories the left wanted to be ignored, forgotten, and shunned.

Its not like the right couldn't do this too, its just a lot more challenging for us. We could do the same thing; read only friendly news sources and opinion sites, only listen to Rush Limbaugh, etc. The problem is that because the left dominates the American culture, its much harder for us to escape that perspective. Entertainment, media, academia, politics, and more are all dominated by the left, so their ideas, stories, and interests intrude on the right regularly.

So in general, the right tends to be less isolated, not out of any particular virtue on that side of the political fence or a zeal for the complete picture, but because its nearly impossible to avoid the rest of the world. It can happen, and some on the right are terrifically isolated, particularly in rural small town areas. If you don't watch TV and only listen to music or Rush Limbaugh, you only go to sites you enjoy, you can isolate yourself pretty well too.

But the left finds it much easier and indeed it is more comforting to do so, until you're caught up short by reality. So when a topic comes up like the foolish college student who complains she has to have her employer pay for her contraceptives because its too much work to travel a half mile and buy her own for less than 10 bucks a month, the left leaps on it with both feet, blissfully ignorant of how the rest of the nation perceives it.

So now Sandra Fluke is the left's new hero, a voice of the oppressed, a woman abused by cruel Roman Catholic social conservatives, who would deny her her right to have sex without getting pregnant. She's gotten dozens of interviews and even a call from President Obama. Because she says her contraception costs her $1000 a year.

To them she's a voice of the oppressed women everywhere, fighting against the patriarchal right who'd crush her liberty. To everyone else, she's a bit of a slut (how many times per day is she having sex to cost that much in contraception??) and idiotic, demanding people pay for her contraceptives as if that's some sort of critical human right. And they're so tone deaf to the rest of the nation, the left thinks this is a huge PR win, a triumph that will crush their enemies. Because they're so isolated, by choice, from the rest of the story.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Joseph Ting said...

An undesirable by-product of the dissolution of geographical boundaries by our communion with like-minded members of borderless specialist cyber communities (Citizens of the cyberworld, Phillip Adams, The Weekend Australian Magazine, May 8-9 2010) is that in some instances morally or ethically debatable views and beliefs remain unchallenged and reinforced. What on surface inspection appears to be a convenient and porous forum for the exchange of ideas in the ever more interconnected cyber community disguises an explosion of narrowly focused and inward looking cyber groups that demand consensus without debate, paradoxically leading to more fractured and conflicted web community.

11:14 PM, May 10, 2012  

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