Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Sacred Tension Social Dilemma7wjez
Sacred_Tension_Social_Dilemma7wjez SUMMARY KEYWORDS social media, people, movie, talking, feel, jaron lanier, rock candy, post, life, point, podcast, boundaries, teas, long term memory, book, phone, friends, writing, ideas, read SPEAKERS Rebecca Shaw, Stephen Bradford Long, Matt Langston
00:00 You're listening to a rock candy Podcast. I'm Erica Michelle, I host a voice diary called brown sugar diaries on the right kick network where I spill all the tea about my dating experiences life lessons, my journey to healing and wholeness my life as an entrepreneur, student, doctors, CEO of a nonprofit, and I give my opinion on the current happenings of the world. You see why I have a lot of stuff to talk about 10 minutes of brown sugar barons wherever you listen to podcasts and listed on this tea or wine, your cup your business should okay.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:03 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right, so we are coming to the end of a podcast binder. In a single day. I am joined once again by known alcoholic Matt Langston
Rebecca Shaw 01:28 and skip that title.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:31 Madam librarian herself, Rebecca Shaw. Hello. Hi. So we are here to talk about a movie that we're kind of a bit late to the game on. It came out I think at the end of the summer, this will be coming out sometime in November. Hopefully the election results don't traumatize everyone too much. If so, hello, we're coming to you from the sunny past when there was just COVID to worry about only pandemic, only a pandemic or maybe the election results will be great. We just don't know. All right. So we're discussing the documentary on Netflix the social dilemma. Oh and this is a kind of new format for Sacred tension. We are doing a movie club episode you just decided that I just decided this this and so I am trying out new formats for the show. If this is one you like where I get together with some co hosts and discuss a book or a film then please let me know I would love to hear your input and if you like it, then we will keep going. But before we move on to discussing the show the the social two beers I know.
Rebecca Shaw 02:48 I'm on three.
Matt Langston 02:49 I'm just making jokes. It's probably five or six.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:53 you would look you would look at my at my body type and assume that I have better tolerance of alcohol than I do. Okay, so before we get onto that, I need to thank my latest patrons. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors they make sure that this content has a long life that I can keep creating stuff that I can explore new ventures new creative things, if you enjoy all the stuff that I have been doing with rock candy, and all my other side projects, not that rock candy as a side project. Apologies to everyone in the room right now.
Matt Langston 03:31 Rock Candy is life.
Rebecca Shaw 03:35 What are you been doing here?
Stephen Bradford Long 03:38 All of that is helped by my patrons and to join their number go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for $1 to $10 a month you get access to all of my extra content. And this week I have to thank Bethany Brock, Melissa, Nate, Chrissy and Helena. Thank you so much. I really cannot do this without you or Halina, however it's pronounced or Halina. Anyway, okay, but maybe you are not in a position where you can financially give right now. And I completely understand the economy is a dumpster fire and I really need you to take care of yourself and your family first. But there are other ways to support the show. And one of the best ways to do that is to just subscribe wherever you're listening on whatever podcast app subscribe, that tells our digital overlords to pay attention and to share this show with others. But another really good way is to leave a five star review on Apple podcasts. So this week's five star review comes from slinky son 983 Who says genuine and earnest. They say Stephen is a wonderful host with genuine interests and what he is talking about and has a knack for finding the appropriate guest for the topic, which is very sweet. I'm glad that they enjoyed this show. And if you have something Nice to say or something not nice to say, then do consider writing a review on Apple podcast and I will read it on the show. Oh, and also, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. It is a streaming platform for all things, Satan, if you're interested in new religious movements in the occult, and ritual, they have all kinds of amazing stuff, live streams, documentaries, feature length films, and lots of rituals as well. There's also some kinky stuff on there if you're into it. And so you can get one month free by using my code at checkout, which is sacred tension all caps, no space. All right, well, that pause was me hearing the thumping of Matt's dog.
Matt Langston 05:44 My dog is red rocketing upstairs and there's just no way around it is what it is a moment of silence. So
Stephen Bradford Long 05:51 we are. So we are a bit loopy er than usual because we have been recording literally all fucking day. And so this might just fly off the rails, this might turn into a complete clusterfuck. And but that's...
Rebecca Shaw 06:06 Might be the best podcast we've ever recorded.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:08 It might be said every drunk pocket with my end with Rebecca just stabbing all of us to death and it turns...
Matt Langston 06:16 Which would be fitting for the Halloween season, which was probably comes out later this will come out later.
Rebecca Shaw 06:20 Yes. Yeah, we're post Halloween at this point.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:23 Yeah. And maybe Trump and Biden will actually make out with each other on election day, and it will actually turn out to be a wonderful reconciliation. Oh, so sweet. It will be a wonderful reconciliation of opposing parties. And will they will usher us into this new paradise of, you know, actually getting along.
Rebecca Shaw 06:40 If that happens, I think I will have died. Like I will have thought that I have died. If I see that happening.
Matt Langston 06:47 It does make me wonder what would trump look like? If someone were to give him a hug?
Rebecca Shaw 06:52 That's a great question.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:53 He'd probably explode.
Matt Langston 06:53 I kind of wonder that malfunction, like what would happen if he experienced just genuine affection and empathy from another person,
Stephen Bradford Long 07:03 no one wants to hug him because he is COVID with that public services person, don't hug him, you'll die. He's a plague rat. Okay, so we are discussing the film, the social dilemma. It is on Netflix, it came out at the end of the summer, I believe we are discussing this in October if the zombies have come in the meantime, that's why we're not talking about it. So Amen. Bear the date in mind this, this will be coming out later in the year. We're also a bit late to this subject. But it's very, very important because the what the social dilemma is trying to address is existentially terrifying. And we'll probably have a lot of influence on the election, whatever the the the result is social media. And these data mining platforms and manipulation platforms will will still be omnipotent after the election when this episode comes out. So it's really important that we still discuss this. So let's start with the MAT mat. What was okay, actually, let's not. So
Matt Langston 08:11 what did I do to make you change?
Stephen Bradford Long 08:18 Okay, so the basic premise of the social dilemma is these all of these tech bros who invented this, this Frankenstein monster called Social Media basically sit in front of the camera and talk about all of their mistakes and horror experiences
Matt Langston 08:35 developing it and and in a lot of instances, what the idea that they were trying to achieve with their creation was and what it actually turned out what it actually turned in,
Stephen Bradford Long 08:46 which is a fucking nightmare. So, Matt, we talked really, really briefly about this in a meeting the other day, you did not seem to enjoy the film all that much. Well,
Matt Langston 08:58 so I thought that there was an immense amount of really quality information in there. I mean, they're they're talking to these specific people who played a massive role in our user experience on social media right now. I think one of the guys was president of Pinterest at some point. For everybody who's recently seen the film I might be misremembering this entirely, but the I do remember, Jaron Lanier was a prominent figure also on this, who I'm a big fan of, he gives incredible critical commentary on the state of social media and how it affects us as individuals and people and as a society and a species. And I absolutely love the information and the retrospectives from these talking heads moments within this documentary, that are very enlightening, and also sort of come with a little bit of more authoritativeness from people that were involved in creating these algorithms or these functions within social media as opposed to just people rambling. on about, you know, if they if they love social media or they're disgruntled by it or just talking to people who society would consider to be influencers, this feels like a way, way deeper dive into the subject of how social media is affecting us as a species. And I really, really appreciated that. On the other hand, throughout the movie, there's also a running narrative, there actually almost be like two separate running narratives in the movie, where it's almost like they tried to intersect a movie about a family experiencing social media and how, like the prototypical American family interacts with social media and how damaging it is to their family unit to their relationships with each other, and with the world around them, and with themselves, with how self conscious they are with these ideas that they get their self worth from. And I thought it was kind of cool. But then, on top of that, there's also this cutaway series of shots where the AI or the algorithm that is sort of putting together this entire that is supposed to be the culmination of all social media, and controlling the family's lives is played by this one actor from madmen, and I don't remember his name. So forgive me because I'm not mad. Yeah, I couldn't play him at the time. So he, he's playing three separate roles of himself as a machine, constantly manipulating and trying to figure out ways to get people in my family back onto social media. If this feels like a mindfuck. Or to you like me, explaining, you should try watching the movie. But okay,
Rebecca Shaw 11:45 so I actually want to jump in on that because I watched this movie with my mom. And as Steven was introducing me, and my my Discord handle, at least is madam librarian. And I am a librarian recently finished my grad program. And a lot of what we talked about covered a lot was data privacy, right. And so these are conversations that naturally came up right with within my cohort, my classmates, within our field, even of social media, and how it impacts us. And so like, a lot of the information that was presented in this movie was not new to me. Yeah, I was primarily interested in how they were presenting it, right. And I watched this movie with my mom, for whom this was entirely new. And we paused halfway through to like, get more snacks and
Matt Langston 12:45 new in that, like social media is a reality for your mom. But maybe she hasn't like taking the time to think critically through how it's affecting her what it is or how it's being run the way it is
Rebecca Shaw 12:54 exactly like she she and my dad both have a Facebook. That is the extent of their social media knowledge and use. My dad never gets on Facebook. I don't think he even uploaded a user photo. Like I don't think he has
Stephen Bradford Long 13:09 a photo quintessential Boomer. Yeah,
Rebecca Shaw 13:13 I don't think he's ever posted. And my mom gets on there to keep up with her friends, her cousin's extended family to see the cute cat videos, etc. But she never posts that much. And so we post halfway through and she made a comment about the AI, right there. And it because as you mentioned, there's these three different it feels like three different things smushed into a movie. So you have like the Docu drama through the family. Yes, you have the narrative of the actual tech inventors. And then you have this narrative of the AI which came across to me it's like, oh, this was the design thinking. This wasn't this was partly the AI right but it was the design thinking like there's this one point where written into the right the intent written into the AI where the for the guy is in the Docu drama. The family the teen is like texting this girl that he likes. And you hear one of the AI men go let's add ellipses so that he knows she's typing back. Right. So it's partly the design thinking and what fascinated me about this. They did touch on data mining is Dave as Steven mentioned here today's
Matt Langston 14:42 day she's on podcast three and she's getting named. Tony over here. Your Dave now? Internet Dave. Okay, anyway,
Rebecca Shaw 14:57 sorry. Anyway, as I It was, say, data mining does come into the narrative in the interviews that they're doing. But the drama was entirely focused on how addictive technology. Right, right. And that was, what struck me was they didn't really go into the privacy aspect. They didn't really go into the data mining and how your data is being utilized. They entirely focused on it's addictive, and they then focus that narrative even more onto kids. Yeah. On to teens, and completely ignored how it's affecting other populations.
Matt Langston 15:37 Sure, well, I think this I think making a creative call on deciding that you're going to talk about how this affects the development of impressionable humans coming of age and in age of technology. I think that all three of us here would want a movie, that might be too much information at once. Because I'm totally that person. So I can I feel like I have a lot of empathy for choosing a creative direction that you feel like this is what we need to go with. And we need to like, hone in on this.
Rebecca Shaw 16:10 I definitely agree. Like they did a good job of honing their focus. They picked a narrative and they stuck with it. And they didn't really rabbit trail. Yeah. Which was good.
Stephen Bradford Long 16:22 There was. So I think later in the movie, they did talk about micro targeting. Yeah, and how data is used to basically create a political landscape that we have simply never, ever seen before in the history of
Rebecca Shaw 16:39 how divisive it makes us and how,
Stephen Bradford Long 16:41 and how divisive it makes us. And so, you know, using targeted propaganda to basically whip up homicidal rage against minorities in certain countries, and, and how uncontrolled that is. And yeah, and really how this how social media is, is basically a, a gift to any authoritarian, who wants to divide and conquer a society. Right now. It is so easy. And I was recent, I don't think this this was in the documentary. I've been reading and listening and watching to a lot of stuff about this. So I can't really remember what was actually in the documentary or what wasn't. But I think the one of the people on the podcast or on the movie named Tristan Harris, he has a podcast and he was talking about how for just $10,000 for the cost of a used car. Right? Some someone can basically micro target vulnerable people. Yes. and manipulate them ideologically, to extreme ideas and how incredibly easy it is. Well, extremist groups are doing this to to radicalize people on the internet.
Rebecca Shaw 17:55 And you see that with one of the teens in the documentary in the drama portion of it. Yeah. And you have the they had very specific roles for the family members. And I thought it was really again, I thought it was interesting that they didn't delve into the parents technology use at all. Yeah, really focused it on the kids.
Stephen Bradford Long 18:18 The interesting thing about that being that it is mostly older people who are getting into Q anon so it is older. You listen to get it? Yeah, you listen to the rabbit hole, which is great podcasts from the New York Times,
Matt Langston 18:33 which I would encourage anybody who watched the social dilemma, yes, you absolutely check out the rabbit hole by the New York Times this amazing podcast that Steven turned me on to because he's probably one of the best podcast curators of our generation. turned me on to this. And there's so so many things that if you are if you're wanting to gain an understanding, if you are the kind of person that watches movies, and constantly walks away from them going, why, why why I need more, where's the data? What's actually happening here? What are they trying to express? Yeah, definitely check that out.
Stephen Bradford Long 19:05 Yeah, like, so that point of not focusing on what the adults are doing online is actually a really important point because everyone is susceptible to radicalization. And I feel like that might be I don't know, there's a lot of things that we could wish that this film did that they didn't do, but the movie had to end somewhere. But
Rebecca Shaw 19:25 to have a scope, it had to have a scope and they picked their scope and they stuck to it. And that was the addictiveness of technology. And they there was Tristan who talks about how email and that's not something that we usually think of as social media, but how email was his weakness and just my weakness clearing his inbox
Stephen Bradford Long 19:44 I gave I gave Matt my phone at the beginning of this show. Literally, so that I would not check email while
Rebecca Shaw 19:53 Yeah, I think for me, it's um, Instagram and and the fact that they've now You know, when it when you scroll all the way through your feed, you have that little note that tells you Oh, you're caught up. Right? And that just that, like, clearing of the charts I like Chuck is addicted to sugar is addictive. And now with the Instagram stories and having those shiny little circles to say, Oh, I've, I've checked all these boxes, right. And for me, that's, that's where I get caught.
Matt Langston 20:29 But one of the overarching themes that I thought was really great about this movie, is that it makes very clear from the developers to the family narrative, that the whole point of, of what drives these developers is this capitalist notion of attention and of finance. And so the whole, the whole endgame seems to be to keep you as engaged as spending as much time as possible, yes, on these individual platforms, because they're ultimately able to sell your attention span to marketers, and those marketers could be anybody. It could be marketing any, anything as benign as sunglasses to political ideologies. Yeah. And all of this is happening on this one giant thing that we're all connected to day in and day out, that we depend on for so much of our information. And it's in an unprecedented way. We're in the past, there's so many different parts of our life, that were able to be compartmentalized right conversations on the phone only being marketed to in stores. Like yeah,
Rebecca Shaw 21:37 well, and, and to some degree, social media has further compartmentalized us in it not in the way that you're talking about. Sure, but in the sense that, and Steven, you've brought this up in conversations before that, it's an echo chamber. Yeah, that isn't curated to your view, right? Like it's intensely personalized and
Stephen Bradford Long 21:59 there's that they they visualize this in the documentary, where if you type in global warming is depending on your location, or like who you are who you are, it will fill in different answers. And so there is this we go to Google as like this impartial wealth of information, this neutral wealth of information where as neutral at all at all, and so you will type climate change is in it will fill in a hoax is a threat. Yeah, is real, is fake, is, is whatever
Rebecca Shaw 22:37 shows you what it thinks you want to know. And something at the end of the movie where they're, you know, they're closing off with all these new interviewers. And one of them talked about using quant as their, their search engine. And I personally use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine instead of Google. And my mom looked at me and she said, You mean I don't have to use Google
Stephen Bradford Long 23:06 brings up an interesting point that I think something that I've been thinking about quite a lot is how these platforms, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc, etc. It's almost like they are masquerading they are this this monster that is masquerading as something that we have always been accustomed to, which is the public square or library, right? The town hall town hall, they so public discourse now we're the community center, yeah, a community center, all of these things that were previously far more neutral, that and we could have a certain measure of confidence that that they were neutral, you know, the public square being a place where ideas could actually be discussed. And partially right, so But now, there's this, there's this, these private companies that have they are the richest companies in human history, have infiltrated and we are now doing all of that in a private sphere. And that just strikes me as like an unprecedented situation. And so you know, there's the old liberal ideal of the marketplace of ideas be, you know, this this neutral space, was it ever really neutral? Well, maybe not. But it was, it was the most neutral week, it was an attempt. It was an attempt at neutrality. We don't have that anymore. Well, and
Rebecca Shaw 24:31 the important thing to pull in and I'm going to plug a book here, the book is how to do nothing resisting the attention economy. And I'm going to very quickly look up the author as i Okay, I did not prepare to do this. But the entire time I was watching the movie, I kept thinking of this book, which I read It's by Ginny Odell, and I highly recommend reading it. And the entire time I was watching this movie, I kept thinking about it. Because I, the phrase, the attention economy was new to me. And it's something they brought up in the movie. And she talks about social media and how it has perpetrated this collapse of context. And that has been a key point, as far as you know, creating an echo chamber creating a personalized sphere. And
Stephen Bradford Long 25:32 it talks about what she means by by collapse. So collapse
Rebecca Shaw 25:35 of context is basically like if you walk into the town hall, or the library, and you get into a conversation with someone who has a different viewpoint than you do. You have the context of being physically in the same space of physically being in the same community, of having these points of contact these these points of connection, even if your ideologies are different. And you can bridge the gap between your two worlds because you have other connecting factors. And because you know, you both know the community, you can say, Oh, I know where you're coming from. Yeah. Similarly, Steven, you had read 10 arguments for deleting your social media.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:26 I was just thinking about that. Yes. One of Jaron Lanier's arguments in that. And he was also in this movie. And Jaron Lanier is one of my favorite people on the planet. He's just incredibly brilliant, and one of the architects of kind of our modern technological age. And one of his arguments is social media makes you meaningless to others meaning social media. When when you post something, the entire context that you existed in when you posted that is ripped away. That means that your mood, your intent, your your headspace, whether you were hungry or not, whether you were in a bad mood or not, your your relationships, just every single thing about you is stripped away when you post, and people don't see that and that makes you void almost it means that everything you say is meaningless. Because it because words are imbued with meaning through intent. And it's impossible to contextual content possible and context. And it is impossible to really gain that on social night. And that of all the points that he made in 10 arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now. I think that is the one that sits with me the most.
Rebecca Shaw 27:52 And that's the one that I think ties into her argument about collapse of context where I think you put it to me, and maybe this was drawn from his book, which is on my my list of things to read. Yes, everyone read it. But it's great. It is basically like, you know, if you walk into a room and you see someone watching CNN or Fox News, you can go, Oh, I know where they're getting their ideas, even if you don't agree with the ideas, right, that are being presented you you have a point of context for saying exactly, I know where they're getting that, but my newsfeed on Facebook or Instagram looks very different tailored to you. It's tailored to me. So it looks different from Stevens and from Matt's, and so they have no context for where I'm getting my information, or what I'm seeing, I have no context for their social media input.
Matt Langston 28:45 And it's also something that we don't have control over in case a point just a few days ago, this this will probably maybe even be months since this has happened by the time this episode airs. But a few days ago, I was on Facebook, and I realized that they had changed their algorithm that they had done an update on whatever it was, I can't remember if I got a notification about it, or, or what it was, but all of a sudden, my entire newsfeed that I've had for the past four years, looks completely different. All of the information that I got there were there were groups that I had followed on Facebook, thinking that maybe you know every now and then they would send me an update that somebody had done something on there. All of a sudden, my my feed was absolutely flooded with these group posts of these groups that I had forgotten that I even cared about it all of a sudden was just like, completely irrelevant to how I wanted my life and it was not anything I wanted to look at or see. And I'm ultimately powerless. It doesn't matter like, like if I tried to to cure like the algorithm is training us to understand the algorithm, if that makes sense and to live our lives in such a way out To only consume the things that our brain wants to consume. And a lot of times it's the lower brain functionality of this sort of like scrolling. Just go this constantly dopamine hit dopamine, dopamine hit Yeah, that we're subjected to, on all of these different platforms. And so yeah, it's just, it almost feels like this unwinnable battle to even be on it and regain control.
Rebecca Shaw 30:27 And it feels to me almost like this situation where it's like, you know, oh, don't you want to be happy? Don't you want something to make you happy? Does this not make you happy? Let me try and make you happy. This horror thing, where,
Matt Langston 30:45 which, interestingly enough, is in the great divorce by CS Lewis, it is, which is that this people's hell is essentially getting everything that they want,
Rebecca Shaw 30:53 right, and never having to critically engage, right, with ideas or things that make them uncomfortable. This is
Stephen Bradford Long 31:01 one reason why I'm actually really nervous about about the stay at home orders that we've had this year. Not they were necessary. Yeah. But I think the reality is that the workplace was one of the few places in life where you actually had to deal with people who believed a different shirt. Yeah, right. Especially if you're in customer service, especially if you're in customer service. So like, My day job is dealing with people from all over the political spectrum, both coworkers and customers, right, but, and so I feel like that humanizes them for me. But if I were to just stay at home and be on social media, those exact same people who I'm talking with and working with would suddenly become monsters, they would suddenly be
Matt Langston 31:48 everybody buys them hasn't everybody had that experience, where you you meet somebody new at a party or a gathering or wedding or something, and you really hit it off with them. And they seem like really great genuine people, you have some fun experiences together, right? And then all of a sudden, you know, a few weeks later, you guys might connect on Facebook, and you discover that your Facebook feed and you think, Who the fuck are these? Definitely. Exactly. How was I able to have so much fun with these people in that context. And just
Rebecca Shaw 32:22 it is the context that builds community and relationships. And it's complicated. It's not black and white. And the algorithm wants it to be
Stephen Bradford Long 32:35 so there's, there's a quote from Jaron Lanier and I think he did say this in the documentary, and he said this elsewhere, that the way social media is set up right now, is that you two people can only interact with one another, by way of a creepy, invisible third entity, manipulating that engagement. Right? Yeah, manipulating that, that interaction and trying to get something out of. And if you think, if you really like, if you really think about that, and consider the big scale ramifications of every interaction happening between people, not every interaction, but a lot of the interactions. If you think about the consequences of that on a big scale of every single interaction happening between people, between two people or a group of people. They're always being this shadowy third entity manipulating them for the sake of financial gain. Yeah, it's terrifying.
Rebecca Shaw 33:37 Well, it is. And one of the points made in the movie was that, you know, there there are only a few industries that call basically, their clients or clients, users. And yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 33:50 drug dealers, and Tech Tech Tech.
Rebecca Shaw 33:56 And this idea of being manipulated, and the idea that we are the product that this isn't free, it comes at the cost of we're the ones being sold. Exactly. It's not free. So
Stephen Bradford Long 34:11 yeah. Which is one reason why I always, I always pay for things on the internet. Yeah, by the way, like, so there are free services like Google Docs, it's super convenient. But the problem is, if you aren't paying for it, then that means that you aren't the customers something else is Yeah. Which is why I use you know, weird little third party apps for writing because and it sounds it sounds weird, and it sounds paranoid. But if if we don't pay for the services, incidentally, paying for something tends to make it much better. But if we aren't paying there's no free lunch. Yeah, somebody's paying for it. We aren't paying for it then then we are what's being sold.
Rebecca Shaw 34:56 I do have a caveat to add to that because I was recently having hammered session with another friend who's currently in library school and her textbook was talking about how, basically if information isn't free, it's worthless and pointed out Wikipedia as a as an example. And I That's a point of contention for me, because because I think Wikipedia is a fabulous resource and a great jumping off point for research and hearing going full nerd librarian. Good, go for it, do it. But open educational resources are a thing. And they are wonderful. So talk to your librarian today.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:44 Okay, so basically there's a there's a good way and a bad way to provide free
Rebecca Shaw 35:49 writing there can be free free good resources can
Stephen Bradford Long 35:53 be in right now. We don't have it and I think what social media we don't have with social media, we don't have it. And I think the goal of Google was to provide all the world's information for free and they did it in a way that just created a a hellscape that I think dehumanizes people in a capitalist
Rebecca Shaw 36:11 well yeah, absolutely. And that's the key that it is a capitalist motive.
Stephen Bradford Long 36:17 So personal so bad. We've talked about this a lot this unit Cortes yes unicorns, we talk about unicorns a lot. We talk about fucking them. Talk about our never ending fantasy of being fucked by the horn of a unicorn. Right?
Matt Langston 36:36 That is that that's a pretty pricey Patreon tier. Right?
Stephen Bradford Long 36:40 That's. That's my fans only. That's math fans. So, oh, Jesus Christ, what was your personal use? So we talked about this a lot. How our own personal relationship with social media is so incredibly fraught, yeah, and how hard it is. And I've been writing a lot about this over the past a year just about how I am personally navigating social media, I co authored an article with ARIA de saltiness, about, you know, embodying the seven tenets of the Satanic Temple of compassion and empathy and reason in Yeah, on social media and how we do that. And so I've been writing quite a bit about what are my own personal ethics on social media? What are the principles that are guiding me, and I think one of the foundational things that I've walked away with is to get as many people off these platforms is possible. And if I'm going to be on them, to really use them to channel write users to other safer platforms, and to really direct people, to artists platforms themselves, so direct people to my website, direct people to my Discord, which is also probably super creepy, but it's better than Twitter. And so I feel like right now provides context, it provides context and it's in it's private, and it feels more secure. I don't know if it actually is. But basically, right now, I feel like I'm existing on social media, to try to funnel people away from it, to try to build, build an audience and take them away, you know, like, put them on an arc and take them away from right social media.
Rebecca Shaw 38:26 But at the same time, I've had conversations with friends, we're like, you know, we're all disgruntled with Facebook, with social media. And just it's been so frustrating to exist there. Yeah. But at the same time, it's a privilege to be able to walk away from that. It is because there are so many jobs that require you to engage with social media.
Matt Langston 38:56 Well, I think that's what Steven was kind of talking about. Yeah, well, is that you know, as creators. Social media is an integral part of our platform,
Stephen Bradford Long 39:05 and I fucking hate it. Yeah. Makes me honestly feel imprisoned.
Matt Langston 39:09 I hate it too. I feel imprisoned by it. I feel like it's one of the I don't even want to call it unnecessary evil, is at any given point, I have the freedom to simply delete all of my social media accounts. But I'm so connected to a fan base to a community. Yeah, to family. I mean, I feel like that's the insidious nature of this thing is that it's not a phonebook. No, it's not something that you you know just can can replace replace so easily aimlessly. It is something that is absolutely inter it's it's your it's putting ads alongside your family. It's, it's literally like taking your like what used to be. I remember being a kid and like sitting around the fireplace and like, looking through old photo albums with my grandparents and my parents and them telling a story. Yeah. And you get your own sort of like Family lower your sense of belonging your place in the universe you know as a as a young child, you see that things came before you and things will come after you. And now I feel like my family photo album is alongs is interspersed with ads for fucking wish wish. Or for so many skirt like why Facebook thinks I need why skirts, I don't know
Stephen Bradford Long 40:26 that maybe we need to talk about this. Why does Facebook think you need any?
Matt Langston 40:30 No, that's the thing is? I have no idea. Well, maybe it does. Maybe that's already pre I'm precondition to the king.
Rebecca Shaw 40:41 But you're right. It's basically the number of older people in my family who are like, Oh, I'm on Facebook. So I can keep up with X, Y, and Z with the younger generation with family. And this is where older people are at a disadvantage is and it's something that I feel is overlooked in the movie is the technology literacy aspect. Where Yes, younger people are not exempt from being drawn into these radical ideologies that are perpetrated on social media, but they do have an advantage of technology literacy, that older for sure to not.
Stephen Bradford Long 41:22 That also might mean that that young people are savvier to propaganda than old people are. Yeah, asleep. That might that might be another element on this.
Rebecca Shaw 41:32 It depends on the situation. Yeah,
Matt Langston 41:34 yeah, I sometimes wonder if we if we're in a really particularly advantageous position to have grown up in a time pre Internet, and now completely within the internet, because we have we're in this weird sort of middle phase where our parents grew up with it, but they can't contextualize it the way that we can because they haven't been using it as long. And then we also have people who are younger than us and not that much younger than technology natives where they are they were completely born and raised with Yeah, and so like, what ads feel like to us don't feel like ads to either of these generations.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:15 It's just like the landscape. It's just trees. Yeah, yeah. That's what is scary to me is when just your landscape is commercialization monetize? Yeah. When you're when your landscape itself, your your mental landscape is being and and all of your interactions with your friends and family are being commodified. Yeah, that spooks me a lot.
Rebecca Shaw 42:42 It does. And you know, like, I haven't actually posted on my Facebook in I don't know how long, but I keep messenger. I keep my account, partly so I can update rock candy, but also
Matt Langston 42:58 blame it on rock candy, the thin threads that rock candy, social media hangs by Rebecca and her messenger.
Rebecca Shaw 43:08 But I keep messenger so I can keep up with like, three people. Yeah, but it's important to me that I keep up with those three colors,
Stephen Bradford Long 43:16 of course. So I have, especially after reading Jaron Lanier's book, and there are very few books for me, for which there is a book before and after, you know, where the book just totally radicalized and changed the way I see the world. Yeah, linears book is one of those books. And after reading that book, I felt I feel this gigantic complicity in even using social media as a tool to reach my audience. I feel this ethical dilemma in doing that, or a social dilemma.
Matt Langston 43:53 Is that what we were talking about this whole time?
Rebecca Shaw 43:58 You mean, it was the title of
Stephen Bradford Long 44:00 one of the things that spark to kind of pivot some, there's a there's another aspect to this, which is focus, and our capacity to focus and how, you know, there were all these articles. There's been this like genre of op ed for the past five years, and all the major newspapers, magazines, from basically like these prestigious authors writing these op eds, saying, I can't read anymore. I can't read long books anymore, because I've become accustomed to Twitter.
Rebecca Shaw 44:32 Right. And there's a book called The Shallows, yes.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:36 by Nicholas Carr, and that, yeah, I think that that was like 2011. I mean, it was a bit earlier. And Nicholas Carr was like seeing the psychological consequences, accurate, permanent. Yeah, it was very accurate. And one of the things that he talks about is how a sense of self and a sense of identity is created. waited through long term memory. And what that but long term memory requires sustained focus. So we create a sense of self and we am long term memory is like a cathedral, it's huge. And it can store any enormous amount of data, it can store books, and memories, and, and relationships, and just all the things that make us, us all the things that make us who we are that huge tapestry, that huge store of experience, and, and memory and knowledge and literature and culture. All of that is stored in long term memory. But the catch is that it only passes from short term memory, thoughts, feelings, knowledge, books, relationships, only passed from short term memory to long term memory by way of focus. Yes. And that takes time. And it takes time. And it takes sustained focus. So it takes read, sitting down and reading a book for hours, it takes the time to really focus on a relationship. And that process is being robbed by the commodification of attention by the commodification of attention. And so what this means is that people are becoming husks. Yeah, and people that that inner cathedral is empty.
Matt Langston 46:23 So I actually find this really fitting because I feel like what you're describing right now is an identity crisis. Yes. People experience in the eye. Absolutely. If I spend too much time on these platforms, I have these these times what you and I have talked about this many, many times where we're like, I just need to detox. Yes, I just need to get off of this thing and like and rediscover who you are, yeah, who I am again. And in the same way, I almost feel like this movie sort of mirrors that, in that as I'm watching it, it feels like the movie is having an identity crisis. In that, it's like it's this amazing documentary, where you're getting all of this, like really great, dense amounts of knowledge from these people who are on the ground level of creating this thing. And then it's being interspersed with like, this sometimes, like overly campy or simplistic Yeah, narrative of the family and the AI, which as we're talking about it now, I feel like there's new ways in which I'm appreciating it, and I love it there just a part of me that feels like, I kind of wish that it had picked a lane to go into because I could have, I could have sat and listened to three hours of the talking
Stephen Bradford Long 47:34 head. Yeah, I have literally listened to multiple hours of Jaron Lanier Yes. But I think I think just I don't know, I guess my intuition with the dramatizations and then the weird inside the AI scene, right? Was them trying to convey in a dramatic way to the broad public technical details, that would be very, very hard. Yes. Yeah,
Rebecca Shaw 47:55 I actually really appreciate you as weird as it was. I really appreciated the three different aspects. Because I feel like it allowed for the movie to go AI of the will of the AI end of the movie of having the talking heads of having the dramatization and of having the AI Yeah, because it came at the issue from three different aspects.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:20 Right, right. And the and part of me wonders if you know, I think part of the reason this movie is getting such a broad appeal right now is because it did that beat Yeah. Jaron Lanier and Tristan Harris appeals to nerds like us, right?
Rebecca Shaw 48:36 Because I could like you said, I could have listened to them talk all day,
Matt Langston 48:41 right? But if my parents were watching the talking head stuff, it's going over their heads, it doesn't matter how they try to simplify.
Rebecca Shaw 48:48 Like you know, watching with my mom was a different experience than I would have had watching it on my own. Yeah, because like I said, this was all new to her and it's something that was interesting that she she pointed out at the end of the movie was she said, You know, I we get these emails that so and so had posted a photo on Facebook or had posted an update. And I would feel guilty for not responding. Or not looking at it. Yes, Your
Matt Langston 49:17 mother is such a saint. Oh, she
Rebecca Shaw 49:18 is she really well. It hacks it hacks your emotions,
Stephen Bradford Long 49:23 we're evolved to be intensely social creatures. And one of the things one of my favorite books is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It's like a classic cyberpunk novel that came out in the 90s. But the Snow Crash a virus is a virus that hacks not just the hackers computer but also their brain. And so it hacks it crashes not just their computer, but it also crashes the human being. And I feel like social media is that it is Snow Crash where not only does it not it's like two levels. It it hacks the human speed She's in at hacks our deepest desires for connection, right,
Matt Langston 50:03 which these these things have made me think about the world that we're living in, in this like, very parallel way in which we're discovering. Now, or at least our generation seems very woke for lack of a better term, to the ways in which our society, our planet, is destroying itself, global warming, all these natural disasters, fluxes in the carbon cycle, like all of these damaging things that are happening, where we're watching our planet, waste away, and toxify itself. And then our whole have our whole other life, our whole online life. We're also watching it happen there, as well. And it just feels like this two sided coin of existential dread. Well, like, Oh, my God, all of this, like, do we stand a chance against any of humanity? Yes,
Stephen Bradford Long 51:01 one of my favorite YouTubers, and I'm not remembering her name right now. I'll post a link to this in the show notes. But she has a video called okay Doomer, where she talks about the rise of the Doomer meme. And it's like this meme of this hopeless young man who is who's just lost complete hope in life, who's heartbroken whose knee allistic and so on. And she was commenting on the rise of this meme in leftist activist spaces. And how this meme has kind of broken out of right wing slash 4chan Troll culture. Yeah. And into other spaces like leftist activist space. Yeah. And, and how it it's an expression of just this deep, deep despair. And she has this insight, which I thought was so brilliant, and it helped me understand a lot of my emotions. Whenever I get on social media, when everything is combined, when cute pack when cute cat pictures are right next to horrific crimes against humanity, when you're hanging out with friends and relaxing. But then you're also, by default, doing activism and ingesting horrific information. When it's all in one string. You're
Rebecca Shaw 52:28 also guilted if you're not posting anything that's activist exact oriented, if you're just posting cat pictures or pictures of your family, or the food that you made.
Stephen Bradford Long 52:39 Yeah, and there's this nonstop pressure, right? And how that creates this mass despair. Because you You need rest you do no matter how bad times are, you still need rest. But where do we go for rest? We tend to go to social
Rebecca Shaw 52:56 media because we want to be with people because we want to connect Exactly. And especially right now, when people have been so physically disconnected because of the pandemic. We've turned to social media. Yep. Yeah, there's a term again. You know, I I'm on social media, but there's a lot of things that are new to me. So this is a term that was needed to meet Doom scrolling.
Stephen Bradford Long 53:21 Yes. Okay, so when I when the pandemic first hit, I was doomed. Big time. Big time. Yes, Lee, and I couldn't stop and
Rebecca Shaw 53:33 I was watching Tiger king. And that was not a good thing. Oh, Tiger King
Stephen Bradford Long 53:37 was exactly what I needed. Tiger King was this Mutt I needed to survive the beginning of the pandemic, but no, actually, it took kind of an intervention from my friend Greg Stevens, where he called me and was like, here's what you're going to do at 9pm or 10pm. You're going to put your phone down, and you're going to read a book, you're going to do this. Yeah, every night. And just because my life was so brutal, because I was a worker. And it was it was those first two weeks were maybe like the hardest two weeks of my entire professional career. And so where were where the fuck was I going with this? I no idea that Greg gave you a really great, yes. Okay. So along those lines, let's actually end this on a on a positive note. Yeah, so things that was so at the end of the movie, it details some things that people can do to limit the influence of social media. But what are we in this room personally doing to limiting the psychosis of social media in our lives?
Matt Langston 54:46 I think that's a great question. I actually feel like Steven, I really have been even over the last 18 months been really impressed at your your ability to compartmentalize the things that you're doing with social media. I don't feel like these conversations that you have with Greg Stevens. Stevens, go unrequited. Like, I, because I've seen you, I feel like you and I text back and forth a lot. And I know that there are times where it's like, you'll text me and be like, I have to get I have to set a boundary I have to do Oh, yes, sir, that it's a nonstop and I always, always love getting those kinds of text messages from you, because it's always an opportunity for me to self reflect. And when I find myself in a, in a, in a state, or in a state of being, where I feel very manic, where I don't feel very much in control of my emotions, where everything feels very kind of doom and gloom, and I'm not really sure where it's coming from, or why it's happening, you know, almost always trace it to a lack of focus. Yeah, too. And a lot of times the lack of focus, just being that my life is on screens, that even if I'm not on social media, you know, I'm working in Pro Tools, I'm doing audio editing, or I'm songwriting or this or that. And the other thing. And I think I've just decided that my personal well being is more important than my personal success. Yeah, if that makes any sense. Like, I could definitely be on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all the time, just posting content nonstop trying to, you know, consistently be in front of my audience, but at the same time, I'm at this place in life where I'm like, I don't think I need to be in front of people all the time. Yeah, I don't want to be in front of people all the time. And I don't think I have anything that people need. I think that the things that I give to the world, while they mean a lot to me, and I hope that they mean a lot to other people, that a lot of times if they're just done for the sake of an audience, they're garbage. Yeah, they're just added to the noise, they just add to the background. And I don't want to be a part of that. So I think I think a lot of it is for me has just been doing your this, this sort of self inventory of what things are really important to you. And even if you if it were to make you extremely successful, or even marginally more successful than you are now, it's not worth it. Is it really worth giving up a part of yourself that makes you really you? Yeah, that where you lose the ability like you what you were saying, to sort of internalize in long term memory, these experiences that you have these relationships that you have, and how important they are to you. So yeah, you've you've been an encouragement to me in that way, in my own personal life.
Stephen Bradford Long 57:33 I'm glad. That's a sweet because for me, it does feel like a never ending battle. And it feels like I'm constantly renegotiating the boundaries, where, and I think the most useful thing that I have done recently, is a deleting all social media off my phone, but then actually, coming up with going to a password generator, making a really, really impossible password, writing it down in a notebook that stays in my desk. Yeah. And so even if I'm at work, or at home, and I just want to flip out my phone and look at it, I can have a very real boundary I have, because I it's impossible to memorize that password, right. And then if I do need to get online, or if I do need to get on social media, I have to go to my desk, sit down. It's very, no book, type in the password, do the two, two level authentication. And just that five seconds or 10 seconds of friction. And I got the by the way, this came from Cal Newport in his podcast, he was the one who suggested this. And so I've been doing and it has, I feel like that so far has been one of the best things because in the movie, it talks about how imagine a game of chess, yeah, and how even the best chess player that humanity has to offer. Lost a game of chess against an AI. Yeah, well, that is what we're up against with social media. It is my simple human brain. It doesn't matter how smart I am, it doesn't matter how many boundaries I have. There, there is super powers, and billions of dollars being poured into these algorithms to basically put me in a daze and send me on this rabbit hole. And yeah, and quite frankly, human nature is powerless against that. And so I think one of the best choices I've made is just deciding that I can't win that fight. I cannot practice willpower when I'm on it. Yeah, yeah. So that and so just having a password writing it down on paper, locks me out of it, because I know
Rebecca Shaw 59:50 that so I'm saying just not even engaging.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:53 Not Yeah, and when I do engage, like I have a rule when I start scrolling, that's when I
Rebecca Shaw 59:58 sure for me what The one of the things that jumped out at me in the the talking heads portion was I do not remember who said it in the movie, but one of the tech gurus, he said, Do you look at your phone, before you use the bathroom in the morning, or while you're using the bathroom in the morning, because there is no alternative?
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:21 True story,
Matt Langston 1:00:22 I have dropped my phone into my bloodstream, openly admit that now. It's not my finest moment of existence, not taking it back. But I have cheated on my phone. We're all friends.
Rebecca Shaw 1:00:37 That was that was a poignant moment to me, because it just reflects it. It illustrates how much control these apps have over our waking lives. And for me, you know, I, my for so many people, my alarm is on my phone. And my my daily battle, when I wake up in the morning is I turn off my alarm. And I resist the urge to immediately clear my notification. It's instant instant, do you see the notifications? And you have to clear them? Yeah. Because it's clutter. And I don't like clutter.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:22 It's like the moment you wait, the moment you're conscious, it's trying to capitalize on your life.
Rebecca Shaw 1:01:28 It is and I try to set aside those mornings, I try to have at least breakfast. Something where I'm not looking at my phone, maybe I'm playing with my cat. Maybe I'm reading a physical newspaper, you know, like connecting to the world or getting my news, something
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:49 tactile, like something tactile. Yeah.
Rebecca Shaw 1:01:53 So connecting in other ways, and I'm not the best at it. I still like I go in, especially if I have text messages because I have friends on the east and west coasts. So I get text messages in the middle of the night. And I check them in the morning. And yeah, it's here before I've even had coffee. Yeah, that's a struggle. And the other one is checking them at night. Because that's when I set my alarms. Right? Those are the two times I feel like I'm most vulnerable. And so I really like like you said, Steven, how to set up boundaries. And
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:35 one of the one of the things that I took away from, I think it was Cal Newport. He talks about and Cal Newport is like a productivity guru, but he's one of the few productivity gurus who I can actually handle because it's much more like how to live a good life and how to how to set boundaries and discipline so that you can live a fulfilling life or it's just about you know, advancing in your career.
Matt Langston 1:03:00 How to be this bro have to be the best teacher,
Rebecca Shaw 1:03:05 Jenny, Adele talks about and how to do nothing like the whole productivity culture. Oh, yeah. And how flawed It is
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:12 super toxic. But yeah, what what he says is if you and I think I got this from him, maybe I got it from someone else. But it used to be that the boundaries were clear, you would go to work. And that was your work time. And then when you left work, you literally physically could not do work. Yeah. Because it was it was in the office building. And so all there are all these boundaries between leisure and work, that that were just in place. Well, now in a myriad of ways these boundaries are breaking down because of this technology. And what he says is that if you do not set boundaries, then the world is going to set those boundaries for you. And that is something none of us want. That is a path to Ristic suffering. And especially under capitalism. Exactly. It's, it's like this colonizing of your inner spaces. Yeah. Of those quiet moments, reading, you know, pausing between paragraphs in a book or going for a walk or all of those elements are capitalized. Yeah. If you don't set up the walls, then the world is going to dictate how you live right. And that is something we just do not want. And so you know, when I first started limiting my social media use, this was several years ago. It felt like, my life transformed. It's like suddenly I had time for a full time job to write to do a podcast. Time with time for my partner, time to read. Many different books time to run, to do yoga. It's like suddenly, wide open.
Matt Langston 1:04:53 It's nice time. It's energy. Yeah, you realize that you're forfeiting all of this energy to this thing that you Even when you are off of it, you don't have the energy to maximize your time anymore, right? Because you forfeited all of that.
Rebecca Shaw 1:05:08 It's emotional as well. Yeah, it's an emotional drain. Yep. And,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:14 and that's those are valuable stores that we need. They are.
Rebecca Shaw 1:05:18 And I think it also again, circling back to earlier in the conversation, I think it drains us of empathy. Oh, totally. And how do you connect with your world? Yeah. Without empathy
Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:32 and and when and how do you connect when you're constantly being drawn drained of when you're constantly, you know, being forced to feel outrage, or, or excessive emotion by the algorithms?
Rebecca Shaw 1:05:47 There's nothing restorative or relaxing about it? Yep.
Matt Langston 1:05:52 I think in the vein of relaxing. I'm just going to give my last little bit yes, sure. And I'm just going to try to write this movie that I'm going to write it in try teas, in Chai teas, because it is relaxing and calming. Okay, it's a great practice for anyone drinking tea or otherwise, right? So I'm gonna give this for me. Uh huh. Okay, for Chai teas. Here's why. Okay, I think it's an important movie to watch. I think that they were able to condense a fuck ton of information into a short amount of time, and to appeal to a very broad audience. And put this in terms that a lot of different people from all different walks of life can be able to understand. And I also anytime that somebody puts their mind to it, to try to elevate mankind around them, and to try to shed light on a very important topic that is toxifying our culture. I absolutely applaud that. So while there actually are things that absolutely pulled me out of it, and I don't want to see any of the comments, or the family stuff again, and I just want raw, unadulterated talking. I'm giving it for chai tea, Stephen. Yeah, I
Stephen Bradford Long 1:07:17 agree for for Chai teas. Okay. With that, you're done
Rebecca Shaw 1:07:22 with that. Okay. Yeah, I am on the fence about whether to give it three and
Matt Langston 1:07:27 a half or four. So was high and I just decided to be kind.
Rebecca Shaw 1:07:32 You know what, maybe kindness is the way to go. So for Chinese
Stephen Bradford Long 1:07:37 All right, well, the official sacred tension rating for the social dilemmas for Chai teas. You will be seeing that on Rotten Tomatoes soon. All right, well, that is it for this show. As always, the music is by the jelly rocks and eleventy seven you can find them on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. The artwork is by Rama Krishna Das and this show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy media as always Hail Satan. And we'll see you next week.