Kevin Williamson Fires On Social Media Outrage And ‘Antidiscourse’

The Federalist | 8/19/2019 | Nathanael Blake
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Kevin Williamson is looking out for you, not that he is on your side. He insists, “I am not your friend, your advocate, or your tribune, and I am not trying to get anyone elected.” What he aims to be is an individual, who can “stand at least partly away from the demands of his tribe and class and try to see things as they are, and shout back over his shoulder what he sees.”

In his new book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, he diagnoses the mob politics of the social media age. He knows the outrage mob personally, as it ejected him from The Atlantic after one column. However, he is in the controversy business and is doing well; “It’s the rest of you poor b-stards who need worrying about.”

Self-surveillance - Technology - Figures - Targets - Post

Indeed. The omnipresent self-surveillance of technology makes public figures of us all, and therefore potential targets. A post, tweet, or moment captured by a smartphone camera can bring on the mob, huffing, puffing, howling, and harassing.

Why? This is, by historical standards, a time of peace and prosperity, especially in the United States. There is real deprivation and decline in places, but social media mobs include few of the truly poor. Political Twitter is populated by people with food, shelter, clothing, plumbing, smartphones, and rage; never before have so many, with so much, been so miserable.

Sufficiency - Precondition - Well-being - Animals - Longings

Material sufficiency is only a precondition for human well-being, for we are social animals, with longings and needs beyond the physical. Williamson argues that the technology and commerce that have made us wealthy have also upended our social order.

Relational disruption, much more than material deprivation, motivates internet rage monkeys. They want the positional good of social status and the spiritual (or at least psychological) good of significance, and the relational...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Federalist
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