Monday, July 11, 2016

Election selection

Conservative elements in America have recently protested that Facebook may have a liberal bias. The social media company has defended itself and said that Facebook's functioning is not influenced by the political choices of its management or employees. While this is probably true, with Facebook being equally accessible to all people irrespective of their political leanings, I argue that social media, by virtue of it being on a (currently) free internet, is a liberal tool; irrespective of what its management may say and do to keep looking independent. 

Social media has revolutionized social interaction in two general ways:

1. Interaction is between crafted representative avatars rather than real people. Our airbrushed, free-thinking, like-awarding, social commentator avatar interacts with other cartoons of the same make in a sandbox world of finite means. Our perceptions based on these interactions, however, are in the real world. This gives us a heavily cognitively biased set of conclusions to react to and our real world reactions sometimes are the opposite of what we choose to evoke in the sandbox. 

2. Your interaction is your presence. Social media is not a place for introverts. You cannot smile warmly and hope that it counts as a social action on the internet. You share anything between a supportive +1,  to a high-definition live video of your life to mark your presence. That has not been the human way for a good chunk of us; how I dress up is not a social interaction (though some rapists differ) but uploading a photo of myself on Facebook is. Social media, therefore, does a poor job in mimicking and substituting for real social interaction leaving a lot of us dissatisfied or depressed. 

This is not to say that social media is bad. It acts as a good compliment to true social interaction rather than a replacement, and that is what we ought to take it as. The human condition cannot evolve to keep up with the freedom and framework of social media, making this a social experiment that nobody really understands well enough to predict an outcome. For a lot of us, it is jarring for sure. 

Back to politics, conservative thinking places its faith on a traditional lifestyle of choice (or conditioning) and strives to not move away from it. At times, this is a logical choice - you have faith and comfort in a tried and tested method that has worked for generations before you and has stood strong against the test of time. What it is not good against though, is changed evolutionary pressure, and different circumstances may demand a more case-defined approach than a formulaic one. 

The conservative approach relies on the recirculation of traditionalist ideas rather than the free sharing of ideas in an unweighted manner. The liberal school of thought however chooses to engage such ideas aligning it perfectly with the rules of social media on a free internet. So Facebook is not liberal because of the views of its makers. It is not liberal because it is populated by more liberals than conservatives (hypothetically). It is liberal because it attempts to be unweighted on a free-access internet. And that cannot be fixed; unless you violate net neutrality...

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The thathuva padam

In a time when opinions are rained through free and porous internet mouth pieces, some still choose to collate their opinions and present them as fictional, but exemplary motion pictures. This remains a smart strategy because of how powerful motion pictures still are and how they have a longer lasting impact than the average mouthpiece. I personally enjoy deconstructing a good issue/message driven movie, even if I may disagree wholly with its content; just good food for semi-productive parts of the brain. However, for consideration at the present time, are some basic rules to be a quality moral-instilling motion picture that deserves at least grudging respect. If they do not fit these rules, they haven't met the bar.

1. They must satisfy the Bechdel-Wallace test.

Not because these rules are inspired by the Bechdel-Wallace test (which they are) but because if you are not going to trouble yourself with content that appeals to roughly one half of your target audience, potentially alienating them, then your message needs more work.

2. There is no prize for being good.

So the person that chose to be kind to the beggar on the street does not get rewarded with a sexy girlfriend halfway through the movie. That is not the world we live in.

3. Target stereotype may not have unrelated flaws.

Your movie probably involves some straw characters that you will tear apart and burn to fuel the smoke of your fiery message. Do not make him boring and whiny (and ugly) just because he also decided to extol the virtues of some form of badness. Bonus positive points for your movie though, if target stereotype has other potentially redeeming (but unrelated) virtues. That makes things fun.

An optional (essential) fourth - Your concept must have some validity outside your straw universe.

Otherwise your discussion is a mountain of an expense for a molehill of an issue. We have social media for that.


Note to Alison Bechdel: Alien may have passed this test but the underlying message has been elusive.