At Yale, Campus Social Media Debate Turns into Cesspool

Can social media conversations contribute to productive outcomes? Yale students tried. (Vanity Fair)

But this being 2017, a familiar drama began. A student posted an image of the flyer on Overheard at Yale, an intra-college Facebook group with over 20,000 members and one of the grand student hubs on campus. The “Reform the Savages” announcement was peppered with inane jokes about colonialism, and capped with a picture of a generic Native American chieftain in a headdress. The Party’s chairman, Quinn Shepherd, attempted to apologize, in private, to the Association of Native Americans at Yale, but the overture was rejected, according to a screenshot of the conversation posted by the student.(“So can we apologize…. but like in /private/[?]” The student described the interaction.) Within minutes, the comments section exploded.

How half-educated tech elite delivered us into chaos

A compelling argument that part of the problem with tech and social media infrastructure is that those who create and control it do not have any background in liberal arts. 

It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid? The cynical answer is they knew about the potential dark side all along and didn’t care, because to acknowledge it might have undermined the aforementioned licenses to print money…

So what else could explain the astonishing naivety of the tech crowd? My hunch is it has something to do with their educational backgrounds.

The Pnyx and the Angora

Richard Sennett discusses the use of space that contributed to the political richness of ancient Athens and suggests modern designers could follow suit.

“Difference” today seems about identity — we think of race, gender, or class. Aristotle’s meant something more by difference; he included also the experience of doing different things, of acting in divergent ways which do not neatly fit together. The mixture in a city of action as well as identity is the foundation of its distinctive politics.

Tim O’Reilly talks about the future

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media Inc. discusses the present and future: tech, humanity, economy, politics and much more. With

Right now, the problem in our politics is it’s so backward-looking. We have a set of people who are telling a story about how the old days were the good old days, and we just need to go back to the old policies of the Great Society, or we have to go back to some conservative ideal.

We have to make it new. That’s a wonderful line from Ezra Pound that’s always stuck in my brain: “Make it new.” It’s not just true in literature and in art, it’s in our social conscience, in our politics.

The Putin Problem

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine exacerbated the situation. In Moscow’s reading, the United States had masterminded the revolution to install a pro-Western figure as president over the candidate endorsed by Putin. Putin soon came to view the revolution in Ukraine as a dress rehearsal for regime change in Russia itself. Putin believed it was part of the United States’ larger effort to construct a unipolar world based on its values and interests, a world that it could dominate with little regard for other major powers. “It is extremely dangerous,” he noted shortly after the Orange Revolution, “to attempt to rebuild modern civilization, which God has created to be diverse and multifaceted, according to the barracks principles of a unipolar world.”

Boston Review