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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/11/20

We're All In This Together redux: Crammed Together in the Isolation Machine

Message Peter Barus
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The Virus has crammed us together on the web. This is interesting, since the web is where we have been isolated for marketing purposes for over five years. Now it's the one place we can escape isolation. Does anybody else think this is odd?

I mean by this: our perceptions have been assaulted, not only by targeted advertizing, but by persuasive techniques, first invented by Bernays, then refined since the advent of the computer to the point where we have a very hard time telling truth from fiction. Or at least, discerning good sources from feather-merchants.

Over time, by increments, this modifies our personal worldviews -- plural, because "to each his own," a principle of Roman Empire economics, is a fundamental operating principle of Googlymoogly and the Book of Faces and the other global "Service Providers" who own and run our most essential, critically necessary public utilities for us, "free," from the goodness of their hearts.

And in the brain, our perceptions are very tightly correlated to our behaviors. This comes into play in elections, as it did in 2016, and is continuing to do in 2020.

So the last thing this machine was designed to handle is for us all to be communicating with each other, face to face. But here we are, and the machinery grinds on anyway, oblivious to this defeat. For the moment. A patch will be forthcoming shortly, I'm sure.

(Professor Zuboff's "The Age of Surveilance Capitalism" is a critical source, and not a feather-merchant, if you want to understand this mechanism completely. For a more recent and shorter, but no less incisive and insightful take, read Naomi Klein: A High-Tech Coronavirus Dystopia)

And here comes this "election." The bots and trolls are ramping up, regardless of our Virus-driven f2f connectivity. Neither presumed candidate is sparing the PAC money, of that you may be sure.

The basic strategy for all of these excrescences of Cambridge Analytica, or "CA" as I'm pleased to acronymize it, placing it where it belongs, next to Carcinoma -- the basic strategy is to separate and isolate and divide up the electorate so they can be individually herded into two groups: those that will be persuaded vote for (the Client's Party), and those who will be persuaded not to vote at all.

"Favorite Conspiracy Theory" is probably the easiest and most direct access to a solid base of people whose vote is most easily manipulated, now that the memes can be precisely timed and targeted to arouse the gullible. The array of threats and ominous urban legends would fill several buildings if printed out. There's one for almost everybody out there. It seems to have escaped general notice that these can be concocted and fired at individuals most likely to espouse them, and with the fervor of patriotism. Bot-fodder, one and all.

Are we getting the hang of this?

To round up the rest of us, race, gender, sexual identity, zip code... that's only the surface. Your credit score is in that Big Database in the Sky (sorry, "Cloud"). Your bank balance. Your offshore accounts. Several of your forgotten passwords (they're still selling mine to desperate wannabe physhermen). Your divorce papers. Certainly your arrest record from college and your IEP Evaluation from primary school. Don't kid yourself that the system has not scraped the bottom of your particular barrel. Not forgetting your medical history. This thing can probably calculate the most likely date of your demise. That would certainly be pertinent to your political leanings.

Nothing theoretical about this conspiracy. Zuboff. Klein. "CA". "The Great Hack." FOIA. RTFD: Read The Documents.

So we're all crammed together into the Google.separator. We're all communicating, suddenly, face to face. We're exchanging something no algorithm or microexpression-reader or face-recognition or voiceprint analyzer can capture.

This is the last thing the Surveillance-Capital Extraction machinery was designed to deal with, and until the engineers at Google get something patched, the machine will continue to feed us individually-wrapped bullshit nibblies as if we were still susceptible to the "herding" algorithms revealed by Professor Zuboff's great work.

A Communication Pandemic. Just as the accelerating collapse of our biological environment is growing undeniable, this great accidental Virtual Viral Town Meeting happens.

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I'm an old Pogo fan. For some unknown reason I persist in outrage at Feudalism, as if human beings can do much better than this. Our old ways of life are obsolete and are killing us. Will the human race wake up in time? Stay tuned...

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