Over the weekend, CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey took to his signature platform to humblebrag about his spiritual quest in Myanmar. Unfortunately, he neglected to mention that the government of Myanmar is in the midst of an ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya – a fact that would, in any normal time, undermine his claim to having reached spiritual apotheosis. Nonetheless, channeling Silicon Valley’s Gavin Belson, he tweeted about his journey within a mosquito-ridden cave:
Here, by contrast, is Gavin Belson:
Herein lies the problem. Our social media betters have established a new morality. That new morality means that those who violate their social standards are guilty of sin (Apple’s Tim Cook said so), that this sin can only be rectified with banishment, and that standards for social policy ought to change at whim and on a moment’s notice. Furthermore, grace can only be obtained by demonstrating faithful adherence to the social justice warrior creed. That’s how Dorsey has gotten away with tweeting this, years ago:
But if you are not a member of the elite – you know, the saints who participate in vipassana while hanging out with riot-celebrating figures like Deray McKesson – then you could find yourself out on your ear. If you’re a parodist like Titania McGrath, you’re gone.
If you’re an irreverent humorist like Jesse Kelly, you’re suspended, at least temporarily; if you’ve crossed too many lines as a comedian, like Gavin McInnes, you’re banished from YouTube. If you’re a critic of Islamism on Patreon, like Sargon of Akkad, you’re gone. If you’re a schmuck and a charlatan like Alex Jones or Milo Yiannopoulos, you’re out.
And those are just the banned. Hell, if you’re a Heisman Trophy winner who tweeted a gay slur when you were 14, we’ll force you to apologize; if you’re a comedian who said he wanted his son not to be gay ten years ago, we’ll force you to step down from hosting the Oscars. All at the behest of a social justice mob, cheered from above by a social media power structure gradually constricting the nature of non-bannable speech.
So, here we are: social justice warriors at the top masquerading as do-gooders while seeking profit maximization for shareholders, social justice warriors at the bottom seeking to manipulate the social justice warriors at the top, and everybody else stuck in-between. As the space for conversation and debate shrinks, social media grows less interesting, more puritanical, more nasty, not less. Which means that eventually, our social media titans will be left in a cave of their own making, surrounded by social justice warrior mosquitoes. The rest of us will be building our own shelters for free exchange of ideas. We’ll have no choice.