Historically, the mechanism of idea spreading and meming among human groups is through word of mouth. Then eventually the telephone came along and even later the television, both transforming the mechanisms of information flow. Word of mouth has been the primary mode for the transfer of ideas for a large part of human history, even during the telephone age. Most of the time people trade phone numbers by interacting locally within their cities or by traveling to new regions. This tendency towards geographic locality has led to a pattern of meme distribution that tends to be locally homogenous. People gravitated towards their own tribes. As a television emerged it allowed for a mainstream culture to develop in local groups, cities, and states. Television content seems to have been deployed with relative sensitivity with many filters and regulations in place to safely inject memes and interact with the public. The television culture in America respected the homogeny that existed through the various regions of the United States via enforcing content and censoring threatening media.
In this way, historical meme transfer methods naturally tended to create insulated and protected spaces that existed largely free of conflict. Conformity would dominate and vastly different perspectives would be locally sparse due to the homogeneous environment and the way that communication spreads. In some sense ideological foreigners would be a rare encounter for those who don’t travel all that much. This would give some people a false perception of unity among the world as people generalize their experiences and ideas beyond their geography. Even if a person suspects ideological differences in other regions, they largely exist without any exposure to these alternative perspectives, allowing them to remain unchallenged and unthreatened. The physical environment and local resources of an area shape the memes and culture of a region as well, influencing the local economy and lifestyles. This pattern of idea distribution generates regional meme biomes and ecosystems. Hobbies, music cultures, ethnic cultures and more all serve as mediums for the dispersion of memes.
Then came the Internet.
The introduction of social media has now begun to dissolve the local geographic distribution of memes. No longer do ideas only travel along a word-of-mouth generated gradient but instead our memes now pool and flow among global subcultures on the internet. The meme biomes begin to fade as people increasingly develop globalist thought pools and echo chambers. Viral content merges various communities together which previously had very little exposure to each other. With TV we saw local communities with established norms sharing feedback with each other while also anticipating the response of their peers due to their familiarity with their own local culture. Contrary to this, on websites like YouTube and Facebook we see the confrontation of many who have never had the chance to learn each other’s cultures and social norms and thus cannot predict nor conform to their perspectives. Instead we see fighting emerge.
Those who traveled in pre-internet days were constantly facing conflicts while immersing into the local mainstream cultures of unfamiliar territory. Attempting to express opposing viewpoints to the locals of a region where one is a foreigner is incredibly risky, so one would quickly submit to the dominant social norms in order to protect themselves from social defeat or worse. Eventually with enough travel a person would become comfortable with being confronted by opposing viewpoints, ultimately training their agreeability trait. The internet basically simulates global travel and now we are observing everybody move into the same territory bringing their friends along with them. We are especially seeing those with no travel experience and thus a lack of agreeability and openness merge together into a war zone. This isn’t so different from the way that colonialists arrived to America to find a group of people whom they could never have imagined prior to the experience. So now we see a new form of cyber colonialism being born right in front of our eyes.
Narcissism Is Normal Now
In the past I’ve explained how threat, challenge, and disagreement are the core of narcissistic behavior. This is important as we discuss the implications of the internet’s way of mixing ideas and dissolving protected cultural spaces. Disagreeability is known to associate with narcissism and so my argument in AntiNarcissism is that disagreement naturally invokes persecution and the fear of being persecuted. In the face of disagreement, people will rationalize how their side is superior, how the opposition is foolish, they strawman each other, criticize each other personally (ad hominem), get angry, or even suppress anger and attempt to troll the opponent into becoming angry as to make them look worse to the onlookers (gaslighting). We find it hard to notice when our tribe engages in these behaviors because we are biased to support our team and to dehumanize our enemies.
Those who are labeled with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) probably faced persecution from their parents in a way that their initial entrance into society might have been with a defensive and defeated psychological posture. When one enters a social situation with a victim mindset or feeling paranoid that others will attack or criticizes oneself, this signals to a group that you lack social support from others and are thus vulnerable, it signals that many disagree with you somehow and that if one empathizes with you they risk their own reputation by association (cooties), and it signals that people should justify the seeming rejection that the person is perceiving. For this child of the persecutory parents, they will enter society in a way that warrants criticism from outsiders and this criticism will meme the dynamic between their critical parent and perpetuate throughout their entire social experience.
Narcissists often oversell their value in an attempt to prove that they should be desired and they often get jealous if others are seemingly valued over them unfairly. Behaviors like this do not get praised but instead shamed in society and this shaming and devaluing of the narcissist means they have not attained the validation and social acceptance they seek. They will be outcast constantly because of their impulsive reactions to being rejected. Their hypersensitivity to criticism is like a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I’d rather call narcissism Post Persecution Stress Disorder. One who is paranoid and defending against persecution will have a confirmation bias to find even the smallest hint of threat or criticism.
If this still doesn’t fully sell you on the idea, please consider reading the full concept in AntiNarcissism.
Behaviors like this spread contagiously and become the new normal. We observe that in today’s world it becomes increasingly socially acceptable to express outrage even in public spaces. This is a behavior that may have once been seen as trashy, abusive, narcissistic, embarrassingly impulsive and low status and now these behaviors seem very much justified to most people. They may even tend to mob together in support of their shared outrage. On the internet we find ourselves entering public spaces with a narcissistic tone, we engage in mockery of strangers, and signaling of superiority. We have become familiar to the experience of strangers assaulting us so much that it is a meme, that we should expect hate on the internet.
It’s as if we took many balanced ideological ecosystems and mashed them all together allowing every meme species to become suddenly invasive, sparking a new chaotic evolution of ideas and norms. This is much like the impact that new forms of travel may have had for our species in the past. Travel resulted in the conquest of America and the resulting genocide of native Americans. Different countries competed to conquer the world and spread their religions and cultures.
Colonialism ultimately resulted in the spread and global domination of Western culture that now seems to exist in even the most obscure places due to the internet. As the progression of culture war continues we will see an emergence of something beyond Western culture. The cyber tribes such as SJWs, Anti-SJWs, MGTOWs, Vegans, Atheists, Alt Rights, Marxists, Incels and many more are now entering the battle to establish some kind of global truth in a very similar way as Christian and Western colonialists have in the past.
I can’t even imagine how interesting things will get once internet cultures transcend all of the previous ways we saw the world. All of the geographically-bound and traditional orthodox lifestyles that persist today will begin to fade and the way we currently operate society will become increasingly outdated and irrelevant.
We are observing various ideologies intellectually expand massively due to access to human knowledge banks on the internet as well as the formation of echo chambers that seem to facilitate the theoretical backing of these ideologies through extensive philosophizing and meming. As this pattern of behavior continues we see counter movements such that there is an evolution of rebellion to the memes of these echo chambers. The way this pans out appears as if society is running through opposing viewpoints as if to settle on some decision, as if the hivemind of society is actively thinking through these ideas in order to create a new harmonic state of global ideological consensus. The war for global truth has begun and we have reached the next phase of humankind.
We have a responsibility to tame and shape our own tribes in order to allow for better communication strategies on the internet. We should not allow the normalization of immature conflict strategies to take hold in society. Those of us who have learned how to face conflict must show others how to engage these situations.
Major tech companies have a huge amount of power over the future of humanity.
Facebook could be engineering which memes live and die by sending your post “randomly” individuals who tend to engage similar content or to individuals who are more likely to be disengaged with your content. This platform could track your reactions to posts and stereotype content and reactions to content so that it could control the way memes appear to outsiders of the culture that perpetuates the meme. For example, it could make SJWs look worse by boosting content that gets angry reactions and also sending it to more people who are predicted to get angry at such posts. This could generate cultural stereotypes around the SJW demographic. By programming the outward appearance of a post or an entire series of posts related to a demographic, Facebook can program culture itself. This is marketing taken to an extreme, in a way that can sell memes to people and influence the real world. Facebook can censor ideas without directly silencing people. They could facilitate the development of new social norms and sculpt the future of our species, something we should think very carefully about.
In Most Relevant I showed a more detailed account of potential manipulation algorithms that could engineer our culture.
Tech companies have already bypassed laws via their EULAs (End User License Agreements). Google wishes to established a city in which there is no government control. Because google influences the entire internet culture through their algorithms and YouTube, having no restrictions even in a small location might drastically change the world, in a possibly unstoppable way. Soon enough, tech corporations will replace the functions of the government and the cyber world will replace many of the dynamics of our geographies. No longer will countries be significant, but instead become historical cultures, like indigenous tribes. The tech companies may not initiate nor support violent interactions but meme warfare and conversion cultures may colonize to such a degree that many religions start to fade. Perhaps a global language may emerge as well.
It will be exciting to watch how all this pans out. Stay tuned.