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Nov 08 2011

Right-Wing Facebook “Themis” Looms

So you will never have to see dissenting ideas ever again.

Most of my readers will be familiar with Conservapedia, the ultra-right online encyclopedia created when Wikipedia was deemed to be overrun with reality’s “liberal bias.” Now the Koch brothers have announced their intent to set up a social networking site for like minded individuals. On the face of the issue, I don’t have any problems with yet another wingnut website being established. It will be yet another place to troll in search of my nightly blog fodder.

But this speaks to a deeper issue now becoming more prevalent on the internet; people are having almost all popular services served to them by ideologically safe alternatives. From dating sites, to tube channels, to social media sites, it is now increasingly easy to get almost all of one’s internet needs without seeing anything that conflicts with your worldview.

Some sites are made to have a bent, Freethought Blogs for example is a mostly a lil’ bit left. But that makes sense because it deals with commenting on religious and political issues. But to never see something that has the chance to piss you off defeats much of what I think the internet means to its users. I love dissenting ideas, I may not agree with them the majority of the time but I feel that there is a need to understand what people who disagree with me think and why they think that. If the internet continues to get subdivided and our politics continue to harden, we may lose another vital means to talk openly to the other side of an issue. And I don’t think that is a very good thing.

What do you think?

(Source: Mogulite)

29 comments

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  1. 1
    BrianX

    I wish them heavy, heavy trolling. RationalWiki wouldn’t exist without a cadre of dedicated Conservapedia chainyankers to start things off.

  2. 2
    Daniel Fincke

    My one fear about Freethought Blogs is that we are making a number of the best atheist blogs easy to ignore by being in one safely avoidable place. I wonder whether we have anything approaching a significant number of non-atheist readers sometimes.

    1. 2.1
      ttch

      Camels With Hammers wrote:

      My one fear about Freethought Blogs is that we are making a number of the best atheist blogs easy to ignore by being in one safely avoidable place.

      And one easy domain to be blocked by web filters as “inappropriate” or even “pornography”. If the major content-control software suppliers aren’t blocking FtB by default within a couple more months, I’d be surprised.

      1. Randomfactor

        And one blog in particular will hand them the excuse they need to do it, sadly.

  3. 3
    Rhoda

    I think this echo chamber contributes to the schism in our national conversation.

    We spend all of our time in the echo chamber and when we are exposed to anything new (climate change is a scheme to get scientists more grant money, evolution is an atheist plot to indoctrinate christian children, income inequality is overblown and if you’re not rich you don’t deserve to be) it is shocking and unsettling. We can’t even process the new information sometimes.

  4. 4
    Rhoda

    …I almost forgot – a new social networking site would be a fabulous opportunity for the general. Look what he got rolling on Hannidate:

    http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/2006/04/we-can-always-live-in-state-that-does.html

    It’s a little sad really, but also funny since it’s not me! Yes, I have a cruel streak.

  5. 5
    Didevro

    I agree. But I wish you would use a different font. I’m an old person and I find the one you are using very hard to see easily.

    1. 5.1
      Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

      Seconded. That’s one crappy font.

      1. Iain

        It’s pretty easy to change what it looks like to you…

        I’m an opera user and go to the menu and select Page->Style->Accessibility Layout to get a nice big easy to read version. Other browsers will have something similar.

        1. Assassin Actual

          Changed the font on my newest posts and increased the size a bit, let my know how that works for you.

  6. 6
    Mad Hominem

    I have to agree with the above. I think FtB is great in that it’s proof we can build this atheist blogging juggernaut. On the other hand, it’s our own little island. I thought it was an odd move at first, but I’m glad that Hemant Mehta moved to Patheos because he’s now hooked up to a broad community of believers, who will hopefully a) be challenged by the discovery of his point of view and b) challenge his readership by contributing to the discussion with their own points of view.

    I’m glad FtB is here because it’s a defined community space for us, and a “show of force” to those outside the community, but I’m curious to see how we’ll promote it to those who are still outside.

  7. 7
    Colin Mackay

    From an ontological point of view it makes perfect sense to create a purely secular left channel. The difference being that while religion and religious points of view have no place in an accurate information structure. Unlike the ‘christian right’ freethought demands a complete record. So religions, and their holy texts have a place in an information system. Rather than rewriting history to exclude unpalatable ideas it is a case of delivering information in a rational manner. The mystics I guess belong somewhere in history.

  8. 8
    Aliasalpha

    Imagine the fun you could have trolling a right wing social network though

    Then imagine the horror at discovering that your “donate to our fund for rush limbaugh to be injected daily with pureed baby so he can retain the superpowers needed to lead our glorious war against reality” crazy effort pales in comparison to someone who actually believes what they’re saying

  9. 9
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    I would think if we had someone of a differing religion who still professed a Free-Thought kind of ideal (I dunno, a moderate Christian blogger?) then we wouldn’t be afraid to have them listed – so long as the core of their posts have something to do with rationality and progressive values. Those people do exist. We would likely embrace them if they wanted to be part of the system, this is so different from the Conservative ideals where you ignore the voices of those who are of dissenting opinion or pretend they don’t exist.

    1. 9.1
      Assassin Actual

      I would be for that, to often we focus on the craziest of the crazy. Having someone with a bit-o-god would be nice and certainly make for some intrestesting conversations within the FtB author community.

      1. Eve

        Our host says, “I would be for that, to often we focus on the craziest of the crazy. Having someone with a bit-o-god would be nice and certainly make for some interesting conversations within the FtB author community.”

        Check out the Slacktivist, also over on Patheos. He’s an Evangelical Christian, but IMO he’s “doing it right.” He also does beautiful, laugh-inspiring deconstructions of the Left Behind series.

        obDisclosure: I self-ID as Agnostic by belief, NeoPagan by practice.

        1. Assassin Actual

          I will mention it to the greater collective!

  10. 10
    Beth

    people are having almost all popular services served to them by ideologically safe alternatives. From dating sites, to tube channels, to social media sites, it is now increasingly easy to get almost all of one’s internet needs without seeing anything that conflicts with your worldview.

    I can understand not wanting to restrict yourself in that manner; it’s not something I want to do either. But for people who do not wish to do so, why do you feel that this is a problem? And what, if anything, do you feel might be a better alternative or solution to the problem?

    1. 10.1
      Assassin Actual

      There is not a solution that I see, its just sad that after the internet made all this information availible to humanity that its next step would be to find ways to close out other ideas. It is a human problem, not a technolgical one.

      I guess that its just my little quirk of trying to best understand the wealth of information that exists out there, i am just weird like that. Some people like reality wrapped up with simple ideas and a pretty bow, I do not.

      The only thing I do know, is how little I know.

      All I can do in cases like this is to troll my little black heart out and weild Poe’s hammer.

      1. Beth

        Thanks for your response. I can certainly appreciate that you see no solutions. Neither do I. But I still am not sure why you consider this a problem. While anybody can limit their internet exposure and avoid the things they don’t like, it’s not like the internet is the only way people are exposed to differing worldviews. It’s not so easily avoided elsewhere.

        While I agree it seems sad, I have a hard time articulating why it’s a problem.

        1. FlyingToaster

          While anybody can limit their internet exposure and avoid the things they don’t like, it’s not like the internet is the only way people are exposed to differing worldviews. It’s not so easily avoided elsewhere.

          Sadly, no.

          Case in point: my maternal first cousins (well, half of them) are crazy Baptist wingnuts. They live amongst crazy Baptist wingnuts. They work in penny-anny jobs with other crazy Baptist wingnuts, where they listen to wingnut radio all day long.

          They send crazy e-mail to their liberal Democrat Methodist-turned-Presbyterian aunt, and she sends them back 15 paragraphs refuting everything they wrote, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.

          This happens at least once a year. Then that particular crazy niece/nephew stops e-mailing her for a while, before it starts up again.

          I flat out refuse to correspond with them. Or to accept gifts (“does WarriorGirl want a Barbie doll?” “Does Barbie fly a rocket or wield a lightsaber? Her nickname is WarriorGirl, connect the dots.”).

          Lots of people live in quiet desperation a self-defined comfort zone, where they never have to notice those things that cause cognitive dissonance.

          1. Beth

            They send crazy e-mail to their liberal Democrat Methodist-turned-Presbyterian aunt, and she sends them back 15 paragraphs refuting everything they wrote, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.

            Your anecdote confirms rather than contradicts my point. Your relatives ARE exposed to differing viewpoints.

          2. FlyingToaster

            (Sorry if it looks like I’m replying to myself. The “reply” link was missing from Beth’s last post.)

            The crazy wingnut Baptists are exposed to rational thought, briefly, and then immediately dismiss the sender and its source. And they flee back into their FoxNoise and wingnut radio universe.

            The sender (my mom) is someone with whom they are only in contact online.

            My uncle (the parent of 1/3 of the crazy wingnut faction) hasn’t spoken to his sister, my mom, in 7 years. He won’t talk with anyone he’s not allowed to evangelize to. And his parting words to my mom were: “And I bet they all believe in evolution, too”. To which my mom replied, “Doesn’t everyone?” According to one of his daughters, that was the end of any association with his sister. My mom decided to stick to e-mail after that.

            My sister the mental-health professional points out that we simply can’t talk to some of my mom’s family without it turning into Northern-fucking-Ireland. If they hear anything we’re saying, it invalidates everything they are and believe, and that is simply not acceptable.

            Some people ARE reachable. But many have turned that corner and aren’t coming back anytime soon.

  11. 11
    Jeremiah

    I suspect there is a time and place for both homogenous and non-homogenous groups. Obviously hearing dissenting views is important but it can also be important to have a sort of crucible of like minded people where you can air out ideas against people you know share some of the same views you do. We all like to examine things critically but the truth is if some criticism comes from my polar opposite then it is easy for me to come up with excuses and chalk it up to our differences, but if someone I respect says “Hey now, that is just crazy talk” then I am more likely to pause and consider.

    Also while some issues are opinion others are more along a right/wrong divide and sometimes you are past the point of considering the other point of view and are at the stage where it is all about strategizing how to effect change. Just for examples sake I would say that after the issue was initially considered I don’t think the best use of abolitionists time was listening to anti-abolitionist dissenting views, but working among themselves on how best to change the situation.

    1. 11.1
      Assassin Actual

      Like most human activities, in-group behavior is a shifting curve. There is always a happy medium of inter and intra group communication. It just feels like some groups are taking the in-group thing too far. The worse case I know of is Scientologists that destribute a cyber nanny to police up all anti-whacko information.

      It is just sad to see any group to wall themselves up completly inside their pillow fort and hang a sign reading “No others allowed” and should remind our community the dangers of becoming to introverted.

  12. 12
    captainahags

    Fundamentally, I don’t think there’s been a difference (from a right-wing perspective) between the internet and mass media in general for years anyway. Ask ill-informed people where they get their news and invariably it’s “We don’t watch nuthin’ but Fox, everyone else is lying bastards.” Internet just means they get to see one source through a computer screen rather than a TV.

  13. 13
    F

    This is exactly why you shouldn’t let Google or any other search engine keep stats on your usage to serve you “more relevant” results. Eventually, stuff with which you disagree will be filtered out.

    1. 13.1
      Assassin Actual

      ditto, my web browser is set to wipe all info clean upon session exit.

  14. 14
    Kapitano

    There are only two kind of people in the world:
    1) Those who can have their beliefs questioned without dissolving into screeching heaps of rage.
    2) Conservatives.

    Let the morons have their playpen. It’ll insulate them from developing the skills to persuade real people, and with luck it’ll keep them away from where real people hang out.

    Plus, as soon as one conservative disagrees slightly with another conservative, they’ll rip each other to shreds, which will entertain the rest of us.

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