Wed 2019-07-17 20:31
While really more of a hipster virtue signaling piece, this article about giving up TV for a month piqued my interest. Mainly because I did sort of the same thing over a decade ago and saw somewhat similar results. To be clear - I didn't "give up TV" as in I ceased to watch all video entertainment or educational content (which seems to me akin to neo-Luddism - let's just pretend it's 1920 and video isn't a thing).
What my wife and I did was to give up watching broadcast television, cancel our cable TV subscription, and stopped watching any streamed video content with advertising.
Now, I don't think that video content itself is necessarily unhealthy, although I would agree that video doesn't exercise the imagination in the same way that non-visual content can. Personally, I think the problem with TV is a combination of two elements:
- Channel flipping and the proliferation of junk content. Back in the day of three major networks and maybe one or two local channels, your choice of TV content was much more limited. You cycled through four or five channels (maybe twice) and if there was "nothing on" you turned off the TV and did something else. Generally we look at choice as being a good thing - we want choices. But with tens of over-the-air channels available now in most areas and hundreds of channels available to cable subscribers, flipping through the dial can keep you busy for hours looking for something to watch. When you don't watch broadcast TV, viewing content becomes intentional. You are there to watch a particular show or shows, not whatever's on. Not to mention, with all of those channels there are still 24 hours in a day and the networks need to fill the air with something. Which means any old garbage finds a home in one timeslot or another and there is no shortage of mindless, cheap-to-produce junk food programming.
- Pervasive, insidious, and manipulative advertising. When you take the slick packaging off of it, advertising is mind control. The purpose of advertising is to change your behavior: to make you buy something you would not have otherwise bought, go someplace you wouldn't have otherwise visited, or do something you wouldn't have otherwise done. If your reaction to that notion is "wait, that's not true..." consider for a moment: if you would have otherwise bought, visited, or done that thing anyway - why would some company pay to show you an ad? Doing so would be squandering their profits. The ad industry deliberately uses the term "conversion" to describe a person being convinced by an ad to do a thing. If you've been "converted" then by definition your mind has been changed - implicitly, against your will.
So I agree with the linked article's suggestion: quit watching TV for a month. Even if only to detox your brain from advertising and addictive programming. If you watch broadcast (or even non-premium cable) TV channels everyday, you're probably accustomed to the ads. You've become desensitized to it. Give up broadcast TV for 30 days and then come back and watch it again. The amount of ads, and their intrusive and offensive nature, will blow your mind. Having now become re-sensitized to it, you'll probably ask yourself "how on Earth did I ever sit through this crap before?"
Fri 2019-07-12 23:44
Although somewhat melodramatic ("dealing with its Nazi problem," really?) this article on The Verge touches on most of the points around why I finally decided to ditch my personal Mastodon server and leave the Fediverse behind. Even before Gab came to Mastodon, many of the folks on the federated social network were already pretty high strung and overly sensitive about frickin' everything.
But when the headline read "Gab to join the Fediverse" that's when people really lost their shit. Flipped like Cheetah. The rage meter went to 11. And from what I saw the popular reaction was in no way proportional to the actual problem. This quote sums it up nicely:
Even without direct action, the administrator said that the basic anxiety of having Gab on the Fediverse has put people on edge. When one user misgendered another genuinely by mistake, the admin mentioned, they were also dogpiled with accusations of coming from Gab. “People are acting more paranoid, but I can’t say I blame them.” [emphasis mine]
I can say that. I blame them for being paranoid. Gab has become the Fediverse boogeyman. "Eat all your vegetables, kids. Or Gab is going to get you!"
The thing that really opened my eyes to the paranoia problem was when developers for apps like Tusky started hard-coding blocks in their software to prevent it from being used with Gab accounts. That just smacks of moral panic to me, and it was about that time I started looking for the door.
You know what? I get it. Nobody wants to be harassed or verbally accosted. It's unpleasant. But talk about going around the bend. Mastodon has become the social network where the focus of energy and effort is on ways not to connect with other people.
Tue 2019-07-09 21:57
Sat 2019-07-06 17:27
There is probably no better way to test the flexibility of your webpage design than to bump the base font size and see what happens.
Fri 2019-07-05 16:27
Maybe Alfred E. Neuman should start worrying. After 67 years, the publishers of Mad have announced they won't be producing any future issues with new content, just rehashing "classic" content. I'll be honest, I wasn't even aware Mad was still being published at all. I haven't read an issue since the 1980s when I became a teenager and the material just didn't seem that funny anymore. Playboy became much more interesting (like most young men, I only read it for the articles).
Still, I remember having some gut-busting laughs reading Mad as a kid so it's kind of hard not to see this as the end of an era. Here's looking at you, Alfred.