Thursday, July 13, 2017

Manufacturing safe spaces

It's been fascinating (by which I mean "horrifying") watching the reaction to the revelation of Junior's meeting with the Russian lawyer, and his own release of the emails leading up to it.

Since way back during the campaign, Trump and his supporters have been resolute in denying any meaningful connection with the Russian government. Presumably they had a sense that cooperating with Russia in the campaign would be a bad thing (or would at least be viewed as a bad thing), or else why deny it?

Now we uncontested emails plainly documenting a connection, and the response ranges from Sebastian Gorka's blustery shouts of "fake news!" to numerous supporters repeating the same line about a "nothingburger."

But a commenter on Kos noticed an interesting pattern:
Leading up to the election the comments [at The Hill] were overwhelmingly crazy pro-Trump, then since the election most articles get comments that are anti-Trump by a large margin. The shift was so marked I had come to conclude that The Hill had been a big pre-election paid troll target. The comments last night looked like a reversion to the pre-election trend. Which makes me wonder if the paid troll army is being revved back up because the perception of danger to the cause has spiked with the Jr revelations.
And I got to thinking, Just what is the role of a paid troll army, or a set of bots flooding comment sections with chaff?

Part of it, I think, is to create an environment of endless uncertainty.
Well, I was inclined to support A, but I see all these comments saying that A is a coked-up goat-fucker who sacrifices kidnapped immigrant babies in a blood ritual performed in his/her basement. I know it seems far-fetched, by why would so many people be talking about it if there weren't something to it?
Maybe the part about the goats is wrong? 
It's just so hard to know what's true anymore. 
Maybe I'll vote for B.
But what occurred to me with the observation I quoted above, is that there may also be a role for helping people articulate and convince themselves to accept the things they want to believe.

It's hard to see how someone can dismiss this. Rigorous, outraged denials for a year, and then when denial turns to admission, you greet it with a shrug?

How is that logically possible?

It's possible because it's necessary.

I can't have been wrong to support Trump, so if it looks like he did something wrong, there must be some way of explaining it. It's the Democrats' fault. Or it's a nothingburger. Or whatever.

But that's a difficult feat to actually pull off, requiring a massive suspension of logical thought.

It gets easier when you turn on your TV and see some White House spokesman or friendly Fox News talking head making the argument for you. It allows you to feel not-crazy when surrendering your critical faculties.

The bot armies or paid trolls ("bought armies") are a useful complement to the talking heads on TV, because they help you to hide from your own surrender. You're not just mindlessly parroting the bullshit put out by the White House - no sir, your view is shared by tens, hundreds, thousands of people online. It's just plain common sense.

The bots and trolls create a safe space where people can acclimate themselves to idiocy without being troubled by the glaring discrepancy from reality.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree with this message. You are correct in every way possible. You deserve the utmost praise for writing it.

    Kind of like that? :)