/Tag: culture

Don’t say the w-word.

The funny thing is, I never said a disparaging word about white people. I only said that while other groups are accustomed to being discussed and polled and judged, white people aren’t, and they would freak out if they saw a question [asking whether they “have a positive or negative impact on America” in a poll].

Then they saw one, completely missed the context, and freaked out, right on cue, thus proving my point in real time. But they won my Twitter poll, so … burn, I guess?

David Roberts on white people.

2019-01-18T12:10:58+00:0018th January, 2019|Tags: culture|

Where nihilism leads us.

This is the danger in making jokes rooted in ironic offensiveness, even when you’re a master of the form […] At a certain point, somebody is always laughing right alongside you and taking from the joke the message that racism is okay if it’s funny, or that provoking a reaction from someone by joking about rape is funnier than the joke itself.

Ironic offensiveness is far too easy to twist into the idea that nothing is worth caring about, and that getting those who do care to lash out is the funniest thing possible. That idea is now the basis of an entire internet culture that kept splintering, with one of those splinters becoming dedicated to trolling above all else. It eventually got to a point where nobody was sure who was serious and who was joking, or if there was even a difference.


The core argument of Gamergate, and of the alt-right more generally, has always been that caring is hypocritical. Deep down, both movements believe that everybody is racist and sexist and homophobic, that the left, especially, is simply trying to lord a moral superiority over everybody else when, in secret cabals, they kidnap babies and run child molestation rings out of the basements of pizza restaurants. This idea is referred to as “virtue signaling,” meaning that there is no such thing as real virtue, only a pretend virtue that people deploy to try to win points with mainstream society, when everybody would be better off dropping the pretense and letting their most offensive freak flags fly.

Todd VanDerWerff on the culture war.

I think the (ironically) ironic thing is that, in a sense, the alt-right is correct; deep down, everyone is at least some value of *ist, if only because the cultures we’ve all been raised in are, and it’s impossible not to internalise at least some of those messages some of the time.

What the “Social Justice Warriors” teach, then, is not to pretend we don’t have those internalised bigotries, but to not let them rule us. If you’re raised in a sexist society then, yeah, your first thought after hearing about a women’s sexual assault probably will be to idly wonder how she was “asking for it”. Ditto for the varied manifestations of the other axes of oppression and marginalisation our cultural messages have instilled in us since birth. We have very little control over our immediate, deepest id-arising thoughts. But the “SJW Way” is to see those thoughts for what they are, and to catch them before they can bubble up from the deep. To interrogate them, to unpick their origins and, ultimately, to reject them and to refuse to allow them entry into the world through our words or our actions.

Eventually, after a lot of time and effort and practice, those toxic belches from the id die down, but I don’t know of anyone who’s managed to eradicate them entirely. Maybe that person exists and they’re, like, I don’t know. Social Justice Buddha or something, waiting with infinite benevolent patience to welcome us all into Safe Space Nirvana. That place sounds pretty awesome, actually, but we aren’t there yet, and until we are, we’re all just the same species of flawed animal, bumbling along the best we can.


2019-01-17T07:46:51+00:0016th January, 2019|Tags: culture|


We exist at a time when technology has made it easier than ever for us to talk to each other, and harder than ever for us to have conversations. We exist at a time when the internet has been colonized by capital, where every article plays a clickbaity game of “Let’s you and her fight.” We exist at a time when we’re encouraged to see conversations as slapfights, where titles read like mockeries of conversation: “No, So & So, You’re Completely Wrong About the X-Men” – “Yes, Such & Such, Wonder Woman is in Fact Feminist.” Why do we do this? Why is conversation forced into confrontation, into a battleground of winners and losers? Why do we talk about “losing” an argument instead of learning a truth?

Amal El-Mohtar on conversation.

This is from El-Mohtar’s GoH speech at WisCon 2017, and it’s absolutely worth reading in full.

2019-01-14T08:06:34+00:0014th January, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|

This generation’s intellectuals.

The context is despair. The context is cultural civil war. The context is two thousand years of violent religious patriarchy, five centuries of brutal capitalist biopolitics, and a decade of punishing austerity that has left a great many young men quaking in the ruins of their own promised glory, drowning in unmet expectations. The context is a profoundly impoverished intellectual and political climate where the feeling of truth is more meaningful than truth itself. […]

If your audience is angry and lonely and you tell them that’s justifiable, you can take that muddle of meaning, blend it, and serve it through a candy-colored straw to those who are prepared to swallow anything and call it a juice cleanse. You can go quite far in the gig economy of modern entrepreneurial proto-fascism by talking to young men as if their feelings matter.

Laurie Penny on context.

Penny isn’t saying here that the feelings of young men don’t matter; she’s saying that they do, and that they’re valid (up to a point), but there’s an entire industry of predatory conmen out there who’re prepared to take advantage of them. By selling self-destructive, nihilistic fascism.

Which is kind of ironic, because I bet if you asked a roomful of your typical alt-right-leaning young dudes what their favourite films were, most would, at some point, mention Fight Club. Which, um, guys? I have some shocking news about what, exactly, the message of that story actually was…

2019-01-10T20:10:49+00:0010th January, 2019|Tags: culture|

Geek social fallacies, revised.

Captain Awkward looks into what to do about That Guy in your friend group, and has an addendum to the Geek Social Fallacies to boot (tl;dr, it’s fine to call people out, no you don’t need to be “civil”, “but he’s nice to me!” is never a reason, and no you don’t need to endlessly educate people or make them feel comfortable).

For the record, as the chronic un-fun party pooping caller-outer this approach totally does work—humans in general are pretty sensitive to clearly set group social norms—although it’s not a “free cost” for the person doing the calling out, either…

2019-01-10T07:19:56+00:009th January, 2019|Tags: culture|


There’s something here that often confuses outsiders. Why is it that fans, those most-passionate consumers of a product and who identify with the product on some deeply personal level, are often the ones who are most hateful and spiteful towards those individuals who create the thing they love? Often this gets explained away as an overly zealous and protective passion, but the answer is both more insidious and more straightforward: fans are not loyal to workers; fans are loyal to brands. This is especially true of gamers, that young and predominantly male demographic explicitly and deliberately cultivated by videogame publishers throughout the 90s to identify strongly enough with a range of brands, to constantly invest money in new titles and hardware. The gamer’s allegiance is to ArenaNet, not the workers at ArenaNet who do the creative labour. Gamers are allies to corporations.

At the same time, the managerial class of the games industry has long seen the creative workers that actually produce games as disposable and easily replaceable. ‘A passion for games’ is held up as a primary requirement for working in the videogame industry, and those who have been brought up through the gamer identity are offered low wages and demanded to do unpaid overtime in return for so generously being given the opportunity to work in the industry. Despite videogames existing for over half a century at this point, they are still often called a ‘young’ medium. In large part, this is because the poor and precarious working conditions of many large studios mean many developers leave the games industry for other sectors once they enter their thirties. While alternative development models in recent years have disrupted this greatly, the blockbuster videogame industry persists as a cycle of passionate and predominantly male adolescents being cultivated into twenty-somethings who are crunched and burnt in order to make products for the next generation of passionate and predominantly male adolescents.

Brendan Keogh knows it’s about ethics in videogame management.

This is a long quote from a long piece, which is worth reading in its entirety.

2019-01-07T07:35:48+00:006th January, 2019|Tags: culture, video games|


On Australia’s founding lie. Spoiler alert: It’s that Aboriginal Australians were exclusively hunter-gatherers, and didn’t perform activities like farming, irrigation, or the building of permanent structures.

There’ve been rumbles about this for years, but the viciousness of the right-wing culture warriors has meant it’s never really gained ground. It’s good to see that changing, both from the perspective of recognising Indigenous achievement (something white Australia is… historically awful at), as well as the gains it can bring to land management and agricultural outcomes in the future.

2019-01-05T15:31:49+00:005th January, 2019|Tags: australia, culture|

The eschatological 0.01%.

There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention. Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs. Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures — something to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol. The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival.

douglas rushkoff on the escapist nihilism of the 0.01%.

And by “escapist nihilism” I mean, “The super-wealthy believe the world is fucked and, rather than use their money to try and fix it, they’re plotting to escape… and leave the rest of us behind.”

2019-01-04T22:26:17+00:004th January, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|