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Shrinking the Spectrum of Thought
« on: November 04, 2017, 01:05:37 AM »
http://www.greanvillepost.com/2017/11/02/shrinking-the-spectrum-of-thought/

Shrinking the Spectrum of Thought

The globalists know best


The CBS THIS MORNING golden trio: Norah O’Donnell, Charlie Rose, a notorious media courtier and sycophant, and Gayle King  in New York. The corporatisation of the journalist’s mind which these people unapologetically embody rewards conformity, assures mediocrity and guarantees career advance at the expense of the public interest.

Voltaire once wrote to a friend, with icy distaste, “Enlightened times will only enlighten a small number of honest men. The common people will always be fanatical.” The line has an unfortunate ring of truth to it, much like the quote from Jesus about the poor always being with us. The evidence on hand suggests that, even today, in our supposedly enlightened west, the tenor of the times is as delusional and fanatical as the French genius suggested.

For instance, the Orwellian Department of Justice not long ago had the television station RT, formerly Russia Today, register as a foreign agent, a deliberately chilling label applied by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Twitter then loudly announced it will no longer sell advertising to RT, a piece of chest-thumping theater likely imposed on it by the Congressional Senate Intelligence Committee and its tireless farceurs Democrats Adam Schiff and Mark Warner. These grave guardians of the realm have led Congressional efforts to keep the Russia-gate narrative on life support, even as it wheezes toward the grave, by muscling Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google into censoring progressive content out of search results, feeds, and paid media. They’ve done this despite the fact that the percentages of ads and so forth that are linked to Russia–not to the Kremlin, mind you, just to Russia–are vanishingly small drops in the ocean of content produced by these platforms on an annual basis. To their credit, each platform took pains to point this out. Happily for the one percent, though, that shady phalanx of corporate shareholders that dictate national media dialogue, these de facto public utilities are private, thereby subject to the strong-arm tactics of our latter-day McCarthys, happily stamping all and sundry with their special brand of fanaticism.

In a corporate state like ours, corporate media is far more pernicious than state media because it presumes a pretext of objectivity. State media disseminates perspectives that support the state; that much is obvious. But the corporate state funnels its perspectives through corporate media, which actually own the state, thereby creating a queer inversion of influence that tends to throw off the bloodhounds.

The low-ratings leader RT is funded by the Russian government, making them in this respect no different than the British Broadcasting Corporation or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. But RT America is largely populated by an intellectually rich underclass of freethinkers that oppose corporate imperialist policy in this country. You won’t find any of the same pundit-journalists on the BBC or CBC. There you’ll be treated to a never-ending carousel of grayly decorous retired generals, platitude-reciting mainstream pundits, and clips of various cat fights between bought-and-paid-for senators, representatives, and cabinet members. Big difference. Yet RT is widely perceived as the house organ of Kremlin propaganda because it is a lynchpin of the Russia-gate storyline, which posits that Moscow is engaged in monstrous villainy designed to undermine the lily white aspirations of liberals everywhere. It is the latter group, in western corporate media, that retain a patina of legitimacy because they are perceived as free of state interference.

But the mainstream media has it backwards, by design. In a corporate state like ours, corporate media is far more pernicious than state media because it presumes a pretext of objectivity. State media disseminates perspectives that support the state; that much is obvious. But the corporate state funnels its perspectives through corporate media, which actually own the state, thereby creating a queer inversion of influence that tends to throw off the bloodhounds.

It is a murkier trough. The state is one step away from the consumer by virtue of the corporate holding company. The corporate state sits in those shadowy redoubts of elitism: hazy boards of governors, Bilderberg summits, G7 rendezvous, and trilateral communiques. This leads a lot of readers to assume its journalistic independence, at least from the government, if not advertisers. But most readers don’t pay attention to the fact that the papers don’t seriously challenge the official view. Nor do they necessarily notice that most sources are anonymous officials bereft of hard evidence but full of hearsay. That kind of analysis is made exceedingly difficult by the avalanche of copy that buries the discerning conscience in 24-hour news cycles.

And so, despite the fact that the New York Times editorial board has backed every American war in the last 30 years, and despite the fact that anonymous officials and supposed insiders like “Curveball” have been consistently unmasked as liars, the reader still assumes that we ought to give our noble state the benefit of the doubt. We must assume its good intentions. It is everyone else–the Iranians, the Russians, the Syrians, the North Koreans–who are genetically untrustworthy. (Obama’s former intelligence chief at least thinks so.) And John Kerry reminded us not to trust, but verify. Fair enough on this last point, but why not apply the same criteria to our own government and our own media? But we don’t because our in-group is sacrosanct and must never be questioned. It is this willful ignorance and naivety that has destroyed democracy in this country. That Fifties era optimism in which the trajectory of human progress and the certainty of American decency was taken for granted. That “…in good faith, by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings” nonsense with which Ken Burns defaced his masterfully artistic but narratively flawed Vietnam documentary in its opening minutes. It’s always a blunder with us. It’s always a mistake. It’s never premeditated murder. It’s never slaughter in the service of power. And it’s always the empire that suffers most. But then, heavy lies the crown.

But how far from the truth that assumption of good faith is. We have been so comprehensively conditioned over the last century that these assumptions are deeply embedded in our psyche. Given that kind of free pass on questions of integrity, the corporate media has simply forsaken its role of adversarial journalism, largely in exchange for proximity to power and whatever perks accrue to court jesters and prancing minstrels. The most blatantly prejudiced trash can cross the airwaves without the slightest challenge from the self-appointed arbiters of truth. Here are a couple of examples from the always-on, 24-hour news cycle.


Psycho, Egomaniac, or Child?

NPR journo Mary Louise Kelly. In a nation as thoroughly brainwashed and ignorant as the US, most media figures, ensconced in a complacent upper middle class subculture of keen careerists, barely recognise the bankruptcy of their performance.

At NPR, correspondent Mary Louise Kelly posted an interview with Ursula Wilder, a CIA psychologist, called, “How do you stop a spy from spilling secrets?” Notice how Kelly introduces the piece–with six soundbites of government officials bashing whistleblowers, or ‘leakers,’ to use the pejorative. She then introduces a CIA psychologist to finish the job, cudgeling into unconsciousness whatever faint trace of sympathy her listeners have for people like Edward Snowden. The bloody corpse of the whistleblower is left strewn along the cultural sidewalk, another piece of traitorous trash to be collected by prison-slaves making their morning rounds.

Wilder says the leaking propensity starts with “a vulnerable personality facing crisis.” Out of the starting gate this creature of conformity tars the whistleblower with the dark cloud of a disturbed personality.

Wilder says that “healthy personalities” can cope with the “massive change that’s happening globally in human culture driven by technology.” Change such as endless austerity, falling wages, increasing inequality, and a garrison state predicated on cowardly violence against indigent villagers abroad? Well, a healthy personality can cope with such changes, largely by compartmentalizing them in the “things I can’t change” category and flinging them down the memory hole of the mind. This is how most of corporate America does it. I’ve got a family to raise…The last thing I want to do when I come home from work is…It’s impossible to know what the truth is.

You know the spiel. That’s the mature personality. And vile leaker? Quite different:

There are in the personality three broad areas that recur over and over again in cases of captured spies when they’re studied. One is psychopathy, which is a ruthless, kind of cruel approach to life, and narcissism, which is egocentrism – that acute sensitivity to negative feedback. And the last is immaturity. And in cases of espionage, we see these strains in the personality appear over and over again.

Astonishing stuff. The upshot here is that to leak information, such as evidence of war crimes (Manning), or unconstitutional mass surveillance (Snowden) or undemocratic campaign fixing (Rich), you’ve got to be either a psychopath, a narcissist, or embarrassingly immature. To keep this all clear in your mind, try this simple test. Please match the following names with their CIA-approved personality disorder on the right:

Chelsea Manning Immature Egomaniac

Seth Rich Ruthless Psychopath

Edward Snowden Inveterate Narcissist

Wilder describes a typical situation, a crisis, in which the ‘vulnerable personality’ might lose their…capacity to control their impulses – if you add alcohol in the mix, that’s not a good thing – they will be compelled to seek a solution to their inner state of stress and crisis. And it can appear to them that leaking is one way to settle their crisis, to make themselves come back to a state, if you will, of homeostasis, of calm.

For Wilder, it is pretty simple formula. One could test it. For instance, take someone with a moral conscience (i.e., ‘vulnerable personality’) like Edward Snowden, someone young, which would make them immature, since their impulse control might not be fully developed (also sometimes called the do-the-right-thing suppression mechanism). Give them a high security clearance. Then create a crisis situation, perhaps having their girlfriend leave them. Place them in a bar, ideally with excellent happy hour prices. And then just sit back and watch the narcissistic psychopathology do its work. A thumb drive will be on its way to WikiLeaks within the hour.

Wilder says the trifecta of psychopathology, narcissism, and immaturity are clear “warning signs” of a potential leaker-in-training. This isn’t far off from pre-crime described in a recent article. Deciding what mischief a person is capable of and prejudging them for it. The appalling aspect of this is the presumption that whistleblowing is mischief.

Wilder concludes by contrasting Benedict Arnold with George Washington. Arnold was pathological egomaniac, according to Wilder. Washington was a “strong personality.”

Nowhere in this interview does Kelly, NPR’s National Security Correspondent, behave like a real journalist which, in her defense, she clearly is not. A real journalist, an I.F. Stone or a curmudgeonly H.L. Mencken might have queried Wilder, “You know, Ursula, if I may call you that, some would argue that Edward Snowden did a great service to the American public. He exposed exactly how the U.S. government surveils us, and how it treats the U.S. Constitution like a piece of trash to be sidestepped, abused, and finally fed into a garbage incinerator. It’s not like the prescribed channels for ‘dissent’, that Barack Obama comically said that Snowden should have used, would have brought any of this into the public space. And do you really think Snowden, Manning, and someone like Daniel Ellsberg were all psychopaths? Come on, Ursula, be serious!”

That’s the kind of response a programmed automaton like Wilder deserves, if not something a lot more caustic. Instead, Kelly graciously thanks her guest and NPR moves jovially along to a weather report, classical music, or a food segment, the better to further entrance its vast anesthetized audience. The interview was an instance of a zombie interviewing a zombie. Right-thinking corporate journalists can recite these questions in their sleep, and group-thinking mouthpieces of power rehearse their answers on auto-pilot. No critical thought needed. No nuance required. There’s something zealous in Kelly’s quietude, fanatical in what it omits rather than what it asserts.


The Nihilist versus the Narcissist

John Pilger tells of an Australian interview with Hillary Clinton, who is presently flogging her petulant tome What Happened wherever it can be sold, despite plunging prices. One can only imagine the remaindered library of copies that so many priceless pines were felled to produce. Will this unwanted memoir prove to be the final blow to the environment? Will the Clintons’ last hurrah be runaway climate change? It would be fitting, if not desirable. At least the planet would go out with some Swiftian irony.

Pilger calls the interview a model of “smear and censorship by omission.” Remember that Clinton blames much of her loss on an Aussie, the “nihilist” Julian Assange. Just another “opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator.” She thinks he was a colluder or a tool of Russia. She lies to justify this, suggesting WikiLeaks only publishes bad things about America.


Sarah Ferguson: only softballs for the powerful.

The interviewer, Sarah Ferguson, offers no resistance to this slander. There is no evidence Assange is a tool of Russian intelligence. WikiLeaks has produced megabytes of data on Russia’s bad behavior. There is actually evidence that the DNC ‘hacks’ provided by WikiLeaks were handed over by an insider and were leaks, not hacks. This is evidently not germane to the discussion.

Hillary, herself an intractable narcissist, sees the election as a kind of Greek tragedy in which she is the heartbreakingly pure victim. She claims that Russia wanted to hurt her and help Trump. She says Putin wants to “destabilize democracy” and undermine the Atlantic alliance. Again, Ferguson makes no effort to challenge these assertions. She can’t bring herself to challenge the great feminist.

She finally summons a bit of courage and attempts to ask Hillary about the Clinton Foundation’s apparent pay-for-play model used with Saudi Arabia for arms sales and with Russia for uranium sales. Hillary shouts her down. Ferguson folds and finishes up by telling the petulant child that she is “an icon of her generation” and wraps the interview. An icon of insincerity, perhaps.

But it isn’t enough. A real journalist might have said, “Your Highness, excuse me, Madame Secretary, why did you want to intercept the phone calls, text messages, and emails of all the members of the UN Security Council? Doesn’t that mean that you sought the same kind of illegally sourced information as Assange does? And you do know that WikiLeaks published 800,000 documents on Russia, right? And speaking of little-known facts, I’m rather confused as to why you’d take money from the leading terrorist state in the world, your pals in the KSA, and in the same breath call Assange a Kremlin tool? Aren’t Saudi zealots a greater danger than Russian phantoms? Why are you friends with these head-chopping anti-feminists, anyway? Also, how do you feel about having started a criminal war against Libya that has completely destabilized North Africa? Any second thoughts, or don’t you have those?”

Playing in the background, Ferguson might have had the video of a Saudi man beheading his wife under the protection of the police. Or images of Sirte on fire. Or ledgers of Clinton Foundation gifts.

But like Kelly, Ferguson refuses to do her job. She won’t speak truth to power. Not that power needs to hear it. Power knows the truth and isn’t bothered by it. Power produces its own reality, as Karl Rove once limned to a startled reporter. Better had Kelly or Ferguson ridiculed the statements of their interviewees. Against a system of monopoly power, a Voltaire-like brand of derision may prove the strongest arsenal.


Accept Your Daily Gruel

The end game is total conformity to the corporate state, which is how Mussolini defined fascism. The end game is unquestioning mental acquiescence, just as these journalists exhibited. Resistance is ultimately a battle for one’s heart and mind. We may believe we are free agents autonomously selecting beliefs from a self-created filtering system. But we’re not. The filters are imposed. So long as we are aware of their imposition, we still have a chance to fight against them. James Joyce once wrote of Ireland, “When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.” So might we. In an age of net addiction, the independent mind is an endangered species. America’s national dialogue is rife with conformity. At the end of his masterwork Candide, Voltaire said that we must cultivate our garden, evidently a metaphor for focusing your efforts locally. To that end, a good starting point would be to uproot the vines of groupthink that threaten one’s own mind. It is insidiously easy to uncritically adopt the popular view. Writ large this easy acceptance disembowels democratic institutions, leaving them bound to rhetorical virtue-signaling designed to disguise criminal behavior. As the vines tighten around the stems of the body politic, that sensation of lightheadedness isn’t some righteous euphoria. It’s political asphyxiation. 

About the Author
 Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com
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Offline knarf

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Re: Shrinking the Spectrum of Thought
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2017, 09:49:41 AM »
Good article, and he makes a great case for the conditioning that the powerful elite keep us ignorant and compliant. It IS systemic, but individuals can be and often times are "enlightened to new ways of viewing their existence. It happens everyday. His big picture is dark and somewhat despairing. What he fails to realize is that everyone of us is ignorant of many things including his take on a sort hopeless view that sheeple will always be sheeple. That is too broad of a paint brush, and there are countless people in our country that are becoming more aware of the power of the elite, and what they do to keep us within the boundaries of there "net".
  The Bodhisattva vow in Buddhism is a way to counter this persons distorted view of the control thaters have over our own freedom. I will refer the reader to an expert on this subject....

The Bodhisattva

by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche| January 1, 2017

The bodhisattva vow is the commitment to put others before oneself. It is a statement of willingness to give up one’s own well-being, even one’s own enlightenment, for the sake of others. And a bodhisattva is simply a person who lives in the spirit of that vow, perfecting the qualities known as the six paramitas [perfections]—generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge—in his effort to liberate beings.

Taking the bodhisattva vow implies that instead of holding our own individual territory and defending it tooth and nail, we become open to the world that we are living in. It means we are willing to take on greater responsibility, immense responsibility. In fact it means taking a big chance. But taking such a chance is not false heroism or personal eccentricity. It is a chance that has been taken in the past by millions of bodhisattvas, enlightened ones, and great teachers. So a tradition of responsibility and openness has been handed down from generation to generation, and now we too are participating in the sanity and dignity of this tradition.
A bodhisattva is a person who lives in the spirit of Buddhism’s bodhisattva vow, committing to put others before oneself, to give up one’s own well-being — even one’s own enlightenment — for the sake of others.

There is an unbroken lineage of bodhisattvas, springing from the great bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, and Manjushri. It is unbroken because no one in that lineage, through generations and centuries, has indulged himself in self-preservation. Instead these bodhisattvas have constantly tried to work for the benefit of all sentient beings. This heritage of friendship has continued unbroken up to the present day, not as a myth but as a living inspiration.

The sanity of this tradition is very powerful. What we are doing in taking the bodhisattva vow is magnificent and glorious. It is such a wholehearted and full tradition that those who have not joined it might feel somewhat wretched in comparison. They might be envious of such richness. But joining this tradition also makes tremendous demands on us. We no longer are intent on creating comfort for ourselves; we work with others. This implies working with our other as well as the other other. Our other is our projections and our sense of privacy and longing to make things comfortable for ourselves. The other other is the phenomenal world outside, which is filled with screaming kids, dirty dishes, confused spiritual practitioners, and assorted sentient beings.

So taking the bodhisattva vow is a real commitment based on the realization of the suffering and confusion of oneself and others. The only way to break the chain reaction of confusion and pain and to work our way outward into the awakened state of mind is to take responsibility ourselves. If we do not deal with this situation of confusion, if we do not do something about it ourselves, nothing will ever happen. We cannot count on others to do it for us. It is our responsibility, and we have the tremendous power to change the course of the world’s karma. So in taking the bodhisattva vow, we are acknowledging that we are not going to be instigators of further chaos and misery in the world, but we are going to be liberators, bodhisattvas, inspired to work on ourselves as well as with other people.

There is tremendous inspiration in having decided to work with others. We no longer try to build up our own grandiosity. We simply try to become human beings who are genuinely able to help others; that is, we develop precisely that quality of selflessness which is generally lacking in our world. Following the example of Gautama Buddha, who gave up his kingdom to dedicate his time to working with sentient beings, we are finally becoming useful to society.
In taking the bodhisattva vow, we are acknowledging that we are not going to be instigators of further chaos and misery in the world, but we are going to be liberators, bodhisattvas, inspired to work on ourselves as well as with other people.

We each might have discovered some little truth, such as the truth about poetry or the truth about photography or the truth about amoebas, which can be of help to others. But we tend to use such a truth simply to build up our own credentials. Working with our little truths, little by little, is a cowardly approach. In contrast, the work of a bodhisattva is without credentials. We could be beaten, kicked, or just unappreciated, but we remain kind and willing to work with others. It is a totally noncredit situation. It is truly genuine and very powerful.

Taking this Mahayana approach of benevolence means giving up privacy and developing a sense of greater vision. Rather than focusing on our own little projects, we expand our vision immensely to embrace working with the rest of the world, the rest of the galaxies, the rest of the universes.

Putting such broad vision into practice requires that we relate to situations very clearly and perfectly. In order to drop our self-centeredness, which both limits our view and clouds our actions, it is necessary for us to develop a sense of compassion. Traditionally this is done by first developing compassion toward oneself, then toward someone very close to us, and finally toward all sentient beings, including our enemies. Ultimately we regard all sentient beings with as much emotional involvement as if they were our own mothers. We may not require such a traditional approach at this point, but we can develop some sense of ongoing openness and gentleness. The point is that somebody has to make the first move.

Usually we are in a stalemate with our world: “Is he going to say he is sorry to me first, or am I going to apologize to him first?” But in becoming a bodhisattva we break that barrier: we do not wait for the other person to make the first move; we have decided to do it ourselves. People have a lot of problems and they suffer a great deal, obviously. And we have only half a grain of sand’s worth of awareness of that suffering happening in this country alone, let alone in the rest of the world. Millions of people in the world are suffering because of their lack of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge. The point of making the first move by taking the bodhisattva vow is not to convert people to our particular view, necessarily; the idea is that we should contribute something to the world simply by our own way of relating, by our own gentleness.

In taking the bodhisattva vow, we acknowledge that the world around us is workable. From the bodhisattva’s point of view it is not a hard-core, incorrigible world. It can be worked with within the inspiration of buddhadharma, following the example of Lord Buddha and the great bodhisattvas. We can join their campaign to work with sentient beings properly, fully, and thoroughly—without grasping, without confusion, and without aggression. Such a campaign is a natural development of the practice of meditation because meditation brings a growing sense of egolessness.
The point of making the first move by taking the bodhisattva vow is not to convert people to our particular view, necessarily; the idea is that we should contribute something to the world simply by our own way of relating, by our own gentleness.

By taking the bodhisattva vow, we open ourselves to many demands. If we are asked for help, we should not refuse; if we are invited to be a parent, we should not refuse. In other words, we have to have some kind of interest in taking care of people, some appreciation of the phenomenal world and its occupants. It is not an easy matter. It requires that we not be completely tired and put off by people’s heavy-handed neurosis, ego-dirt, ego-puke, or ego-diarrhea; instead we are appreciative and willing to clean up for them. It is a sense of softness whereby we allow situations to take place in spite of little inconveniences; we allow situations to bother us, to overcrowd us.

Taking a bodhisattva vow means that we are inspired to put the teachings of Buddhism into practice in our everyday lives. In doing so we are mature enough not to hold anything back. Our talents are not rejected but are utilized as part of the learning process, part of the practice. A bodhisattva may teach dharma in the form of intellectual understanding, artistic understanding, or even business understanding. So in committing ourselves to the bodhisattva path, we are resuming our talents in an enlightened way, not being threatened or confused by them. Earlier our talents may have been “trips,” part of the texture of our confusion, but now we are bringing them back to life. Now they can blossom with the help of the teaching, the teacher, and our patience. This does not mean that we completely perfect our whole situation on the spot. There will still be confusion taking place, of course! But at the same time there is also a glimpse of openness and unlimited potentiality.

It is necessary at this point to take a leap in terms of trusting ourselves. We can actually correct any aggression or lack of compassion—anything anti-bodhisattva-like—as it happens; we can recognize our own neurosis and work with it, rather than trying to cover it up or throw it out. In this way one’s neurotic thought pattern, or “trip,” slowly dissolves. Whenever we work with our neurosis in such a direct way, it becomes compassionate action.

The usual human instinct is to feed ourselves first and only make friends with others if they can feed us. This could be called “ape instinct.” But in the case of the bodhisattva vow, we are talking about a kind of superhuman instinct which is much deeper and more full than that. Inspired by this instinct, we are willing to feel empty and deprived and confused. But something comes out of our willingness to feel that way, which is that we can help somebody else at the same time. So there is room for our confusion and chaos and ego-centeredness; they become stepping-stones. Even the irritations that occur in the practice of the bodhisattva path become a way of confirming our commitment.
As the earth sustains the atmosphere and outer space accommodates the stars, galaxies, and all the rest, we are willing to carry the burdens of the world. We are inspired by the physical example of the universe. We offer ourselves as wind, fire, air, earth, and water—all the elements.

By taking the bodhisattva vow, we actually present ourselves as the property of sentient beings: depending on the situation, we are willing to be a highway, a boat, a floor, or a house. We allow other sentient beings to use us in whatever way they choose. As the earth sustains the atmosphere and outer space accommodates the stars, galaxies, and all the rest, we are willing to carry the burdens of the world. We are inspired by the physical example of the universe. We offer ourselves as wind, fire, air, earth, and water—all the elements.

But it is necessary and very important to avoid idiot compassion. If one handles fire wrongly, he gets burned; if one rides a horse badly, he gets thrown. There is a sense of earthy reality. Working with the world requires some kind of practical intelligence. We cannot just be “love-and-light” bodhisattvas. If we do not work intelligently with sentient beings, quite possibly our help will become addictive rather than beneficial. People will become addicted to our help in the same way they become addicted to sleeping pills. By trying to get more and more help they will become weaker and weaker. So for the benefit of sentient beings, we need to open ourselves with an attitude of fearlessness. Because of people’s natural tendency toward indulgence, sometimes it is best for us to be direct and cutting. The bodhisattva’s approach is to help others to help themselves. It is analogous to the elements: earth, water, air, and fire always reject us when we try to use them in a manner that is beyond what is suitable, but at the same time, they offer themselves generously to be worked with and used properly.
You should at least attempt to be open, cheerful, and, at the same time, brave. This requires that you continuously take some sort of leap, but some sort of leap is always taking place on the bodhisattva path.

One of the obstacles to bodhisattva discipline is an absence of humor; we could take the whole thing too seriously. Approaching the benevolence of a bodhisattva in a militant fashion doesn’t quite work. Beginners are often overly concerned with their own practice and their own development, approaching Mahayana in a style that brings to mind the path of individual liberation. But that serious militancy is quite different from the lightheartedness and joy of the bodhisattva path. In the beginning you may have to fake being open and joyous. But you should at least attempt to be open, cheerful, and, at the same time, brave. This requires that you continuously take some sort of leap. You may leap like a flea, a grasshopper, a frog, or finally, like a bird, but some sort of leap is always taking place on the bodhisattva path.

There is a tremendous sense of celebration and joy in finally being able to join the family of buddhas. At last we have decided to claim our inheritance, which is enlightenment. From the perspective of doubt, whatever enlightened quality exists in us may seem small scale. But from the perspective of actuality, a fully developed enlightened being exists in us already. Enlightenment is no longer a myth: it does exist, it is workable, and we are associated with it thoroughly and fully. So we have no doubts as to whether we are on the path or not. It is obvious that we have made a commitment and that we are going to develop this ambitious project of becoming a buddha.

Taking the bodhisattva vow is an expression of settling down and making ourselves at home in this world. We are not concerned that somebody is going to attack us or destroy us. We are constantly exposing ourselves for the benefit of sentient beings. In fact, we are even giving up our ambition to attain enlightenment in favour of relieving the suffering and difficulties of people. Nevertheless, helplessly, we attain enlightenment anyway. Bodhisattvas and great tathagatas in the past have taken this step, and we too can do so. It is simply up to us whether we are going to accept this richness or reject it and settle for a poverty-stricken mentality.

https://www.lionsroar.com/the-bodhisattva/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING. BACKWARDS!

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Facebook doesn’t fool me – but I worry about how it affects you
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2019, 10:33:13 AM »

"It's not me... it's you."

Facebook doesn’t fool me – but I worry about how it affects you



I’m safe, but you should be more careful online. 

A number of prominent figures have called for some sort of regulation of Facebook – including one of the company’s co-founders and a venture capitalist who was one of Facebook’s early backers.

Much of the criticism of Facebook relates to how the company’s algorithms target users with advertising, and the “echo chambers” that show users ideologically slanted content.

Despite the public criticism, the company has posted record profits. And billions of people– including more than two-thirds of American adults – continue to use the unregulated version of Facebook that exists now.

I have been studying the social dynamics of the internet for 30 years, and I suspect what’s behind these apparent contradictions is something psychological. People know about Facebook’s problems, but each person assumes he or she is largely immune – even while imagining that everyone else is very susceptible to influence. That paradox helps explain why people keep using the site – which still boasts more than 2 billion monthly average users. And ironically, it also helps explain what’s behind pressure to regulate the social media giant.

It’s not me, it’s them

The psychological tendency at work here is called “the third person effect,” the belief that media don’t fool me, and maybe don’t fool you, but all those other people are sitting ducks for media effects.

Ironically, this dynamic can encourage people to support restrictions on media consumption – by others. If someone uses, say, a social media site and feels immune to its negative influences, it triggers another psychological phenomenon called the “influence of presumed influence.” When that happens, a person worries that everyone else falls victim, and supports efforts to protect others, even if they think they themselves don’t need the protection.

This could be why there are lots of Facebook users who complain about Facebook’s danger to others, but continue using it nevertheless.

Even the Facebook-funding venture capitalist Roger McNamee, who wrote a book about how bad Facebook has become, may have fallen prey to this psychological irony. As the Washington Post reports, “despite … his disgust with the worst crimes of social media platforms … McNamee not only still owns Facebook shares … he also still counts himself among the behemoth’s more than 2 billion users. After all, McNamee acknowledges with a shrug and a smile, ‘I’ve got a book to promote.’”

Not everyone can be above average

McNamee may think he’s immune to the echo chambers and other online influences that, he warns, affect the average Facebook user. What if average Facebook users think they’re not the average Facebook user, and therefore also believe that they are immune to Facebook’s pernicious influences?

I explored this possibility in a survey of 515 adults in the U.S. who used Facebook at least once the previous week. Participants were recruited by Qualtrics, a company that administered my survey questions. Respondents resided in all 50 states. Their average age was 39, and they reported an average of just under 10 hours per week on Facebook, which they estimated to be similar to most other Facebook users.

The survey asked the respondents three groups of questions. One group was about how strongly they believe that Facebook affects them on a number of important social and political topics, including building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, expanding or repealing the Affordable Care Act, whether President Trump is doing a good job and other major national issues.

The second group of questions asked how much each respondent believes Facebook affects others’ perceptions of those same issues – how much social media affects their idea of “the average person.”

The third group of questions asked how strongly each respondent supported regulating Facebook, through a variety of possible strategies that include rulings from the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission, breaking up Facebook using anti-trust laws, requiring Facebook to reveal its algorithms and other steps.

Eager to protect others

Respondents believed that Facebook affects other people’s perceptions much more strongly than it affects their own. The more they thought that others were more vulnerable than they were, the more they wanted to rein Facebook in.

A man misled by online information surrenders to police in Washington, D.C., after firing a rifle in a pizzeria. Sathi Soma via AP

People who thought they were far less affected than others, and who wanted to regulate Facebook, also believed more strongly that the source of the problem with Facebook lies in the power of echo chambers to repeat, amplify and reinforce a user’s beliefs. That was true even though they would be affected by the regulations as well.

Echo chambers do exist, and they do affect people’s perceptions – even leading one person to shoot up a pizza parlor alleged to be a front for child prostitution. But research has called into question the idea that echo chambers are extremely influential over most people’s views.

In my view, it’s more important to help people understand that they are just as much at risk from Facebook as everyone else, whatever the level of risk may actually be. Society may bear some responsibility, but so do individual Facebook users. Otherwise they’ll ignore recommendations about their own media consumption, while supporting calls for sweeping regulations that may be too broad and potentially misdirected. Ultimately, people need to save themselves more, and worry a little less about saving everyone else.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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I don't use Facepalm.  I don't even know how to contact somebody on Facepalm.

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I don't use Facepalm.  I don't even know how to contact somebody on Facepalm.

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"Joe Smith" contacted me on FB man y years ago when I stood up the DDFB page. Perhaps you have forgotten.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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I don't use Facepalm.  I don't even know how to contact somebody on Facepalm.

RE

"Joe Smith" contacted me on FB man y years ago when I stood up the DDFB page. Perhaps you have forgotten.

No, haven't forgotten.  I have an account, I just never use it.  I tried recently to contact somebody for an interview using it, but it said I am not "connected" to this person.  Only tried that because I couldn't dig up an email addy.  So no interview there.

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Offline Surly1

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I don't use Facepalm.  I don't even know how to contact somebody on Facepalm.

RE

"Joe Smith" contacted me on FB man y years ago when I stood up the DDFB page. Perhaps you have forgotten.

No, haven't forgotten.  I have an account, I just never use it.  I tried recently to contact somebody for an interview using it, but it said I am not "connected" to this person.  Only tried that because I couldn't dig up an email addy.  So no interview there.

RE

FB is a major pain in the ass in that regard. Time was you could send a request to someone you didn't know, and it would go to their "other" mailbox, which no one knew that had and fewer ever checked. Now their mail system is yoked to FB Messenger, and you have an inbox and now "message requests."  Again, no one ever looks at it. Just more Fuckerberging.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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