Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I blame the internet. Back in the days before it, we had to learn to live with those around us, now you can just go out and find someone as equally stupid as yourself.

I call it the toaster fucker problem. Man wakes up in 1980, tells his friends "I want to fuck a toaster" Friends quite rightly berate and laugh at him, guy deals with it, maybe gets some therapy and goes on a bit better adjusted.

Guy in 2021 tells his friends that he wants to fuck a toaster, gets laughed at, immediately jumps on facebook and finds "Toaster Fucker Support group" where he reads that he's actually oppressed and he needs to cut out everyone around him and should only listen to his fellow toaster fuckers.

Apply this analogy to literally any insular bubble, it applies as equally to /r/thedonald as it does to the emaciated Che Guevara larpers that cry thinking about ringing their favourite pizza place.

Not more of this anti-toaster-fucking bigotry! It is _completely_ normal for a grown man to seek a consensual, carnal relationship with any electrical appliance of his choosing. Just because you can't understand the deep, intimate bond that comes from inserting your genitals into a toaster, it doesn't give you the right to shame others.

I've shared your post with my good friends at the Toaster Fucker Support Group. Expect to get doxxed within the next 48 hours, bigot.

> I blame the internet.

The irony of this ahistorical claim is that it comes very close to "Make America great again".

Think about the Vietnam War. The civil rights era. The McCarthy era. The list is almost endless. The Civil War, of course. The US has almost always had major polarization. If anything, the internet reveals what had been hidden by the whitewashed corporate Big Three TV network monopoly, which was itself an historical anomaly.

You know the Pulitzer Prize for journalism? Well, Joseph Pulitzer himself was unapologetically partisan. As was William Randolph Hearst, et al. The whole idea of "objective journalism" is not much more than a naive blip.

I agree, the difference now is that we have direct access to the information, it doesn't have to filter through a journalist now. All these twitter/facebook/youtube bans are trying to put a genie back in a bottle, Parler is gaining steam and Bitchute recently hit its funding goals.

Also, yeah, the term yellow journalism refers to Pulitzer's rags. Completely on board with that as well.

Of course it's not that one-sided. Let's not forget that the same technology that provides a safe haven for toaster fuckers also enables people with more sane, progressive yet equally niche ideas to find like-minded peers and escape the problematic offline environments and tribalism they may have been brought up in.

Sure, it's a double-edged sword, but that doesn't mean the comment you're replying to is wrong.

Continuing the analogy, it comes down to the impossibility that such tools only be used for good. We can't approach 100% without draconian censorship, but we can probably get to 90% with better education. Apparently we're currently around 50%.

Of course not. I just wanted to provide a glimpse on the other side of that coin.

I would add that the pandemic make us skip the part of telling friends.

And the invention of twitter... most sane people don't talk. If they ever say anything, it is too common sensual to be retweeted. But if someone say something explosive it got exponentially retweeted. The character limit also eliminate the possibility of any nuance in position.

sensual -> sensical

I like the idea of common sensual, but I think we all might have slightly different tastes :D

You just need to find the right toaster :)

True, common is a loaded word nowadays...

You certainly did not have to live with those around you before the internet, and were sometimes very much encouraged not to.

It isn't like the LGBTQ+ community was treated well. It was perfectly acceptable to not hire a queer school teacher, nor was it such a bad thing for students to shun a queer classmate. Or you could look at marriage between "races" and the slurs you got from them. A core teaching of a number of churches is to surround yourself with other believers instead of the non-believer next door. And certainly make sure you fit into your gender roles.

Best not to have communist or socialist leanings in the 50's, nor be asian in the US in the 40's. In so many places, it was outright dangerous to have dark skin.

Sometimes you would just accept those around you because that was all you had access to, which is true... so long as they weren't in the wrong group lest you be treated like the minority.

Social media amplifies some bubbles, but it also breaks a few and some things are more difficult to ignore.

other countries also have internet access. the impact on them doesn't appear to be the same. why is that?

I dunno. The UK got whipped into an online frenzy prior to the Brexit vote. Notably, there was possible Russian interference during that campaign on Twitter, similar to the US [1]. And Bolsonaro got elected in Brazil, largely due to manipulation on WhatsApp. Roughly 47% of the country uses WhatsApp, and of the top fifty images circulating at the time of the election, only four were real [2].

Social media has proven itself to have massive impact on the zeitgeist, and it has been weaponized the world over to serve the interests of those willing to manipulate others in order to further their own (often misanthropic) goals.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/14/how-400-russia...

[2] https://www.cfr.org/blog/whatsapps-influence-brazilian-elect...

Most of the Russian stories were pure election stories, there is almost no merit to it at all.

This is actually one thing I don't understand about the alleged progressive side and many people share this view. You could be made to believe basically anything the same way Trump supporters believe a communist overtake of the US is imminent.

Furthermore the support these stories got from intelligence agencies point to very serious problems that do indeed influence democracy in a very bad way, far worse than Putin can imagine in his dreams. Of course it might put a smile on his face, that much is understood.

True that the zeitgeist has influence, but it is mainly driven by western companies, not by the Russian government. Aside from the language barrier you cannot name one talking point this alleged Russian propaganda contained.

You do understand the implication if you decry any opposition to EU integration as Russian interference? Because any political discourse stops right there with you.

No, there was honest dissatisfaction with the EU in Britain. That might be wrong or not, but the Russian thing just made people reinforce their views, because that actually makes sense now.

Russians, seriously...

Brazil is another story here, although I think the facts have to be checked.

> honest dissatisfaction with the EU in Britain

Well, I don't know how honest you'd call The Sun. Obviously, it wasn't Russia - but equally obviously, the whole euro-skepticism thing was hardly an organic phenomenon. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a single issue of a right wing British tabloid published in the last ten years that didn't have at least one article in it about how bad the EU is.

Influencing democracy is older than democracy - I think the thing that's causing such a furore is that the internet is lowering the barriers for this kind of yellow-press skulduggery, to the point that losers like Steve Bannon start to have actual power.

It was and still is purely organic. The entire establishment aggressively suppressed euroskepticism of any kind for decades to the level that it required a total outsider, who was himself frozen out completely, to create an entirely new political party twice and bring them to winning enough votes to ensure the Conservatives couldn't ignore it anymore.

You say "the Sun" as if a single tabloid the vast majority of all powerful people and decision makers don't even read was some decisive factor. Now consider the total and complete opposition of the BBC, the Guardian, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Times, the Civil Service, dominant factions in both political factions, etc.

To say Brexit wasn't organic is to innuendo into existence some vast but vague conspiracy. "Obviously" it wasn't Russia you say, but it had to be someone right? Isn't this the same sort of rhetoric that has lead to the Capitol just being stormed? Isn't it far more likely that parts of the British press reported bad stories about the EU for decades simply because there were bad stories to report, as you'd expect there to be? And reporting stories about governments is the sort of thing a free press is supposed to do?

Do you live in the UK? It's hard for non-residents to understand the impact of The Sun. It's the most read newspaper by far - having a greater readership than all the other papers you mentioned combined.

After the victory of John Major in 1992, the Sun ran the headline 'IT'S THE SUN WOT WON IT', a line that's since become a sort of mantra in english politics - nobody has won an election since without the support of The Sun.

The second most read is the Daily Mail, another euroskeptic paper. In fact, if you look down the list of papers by readership [1], you can see the euroskeptic press (Telegraph, Mail, Murdoch papers) is almost the entirety of newspapers that are in circulation.

I'm not saying there's some vast conspiracy. I'm just saying that Rupert Murdoch is not a fan of large, big-state regulatory projects, and as a result, his papers (which include the Times, for instance) have followed an anti-EU line. He traditionally takes a very active role in this kind of editorial decision making, and is very public about this fact.

Obviously, the establishment in england are traditionally liberal, internationalist, and the argument for Brexit is a hard sell on pragmatic grounds for obvious reasons - and that's why the vast majority of powerful people were against Brexit, and it took 'outsiders' to push the campaign through.

However, these 'outsiders' were able to do so because they knew the issue sold well with both conservative core demographics and swing voters. And, if you think that your average midlands swing voter would have opinions about supra-national trade standards without some serious narrative building, I have a bridge to sell you.

[1] - https://www.statista.com/statistics/529060/uk-newspaper-mark...

Not any more but I used to. Yes the Sun has a lot of readers compared to the FT. None of them are the sorts of people who are anywhere even close to power or influence, except in the vague way that any large group of people has power in a democracy.

You do have to be careful not to assume forwards causation. The argument that the British people dislike the EU because the successful parts of the press publishes negative stories about it can also be rephrased as, many people dislike the EU and successful newspapers don't ignore that. That is people's views drive newspaper coverage, not the other way around.

if you think that your average midlands swing voter would have opinions about supra-national trade standards without some serious narrative building, I have a bridge to sell you

But if you think the EU is actually only about supra-national trade standards, then I have a bridge to sell you too ;)

If the EU was just a European ISO that issued standards on goods labelling nobody would have ever cared, you're correct. It's obviously nothing even close to that, and very keen on trade standards being even less of what it does in future.

> None of them are the sorts of people who are anywhere even close to power or influence,

Isn't that exactly the point? Brexit happened because of a referendum where normal people got a vote.

> That is people's views drive newspaper coverage, not the other way around.

I think if this was true, nobody would bother printing them. It's not like they make much money. I'm sure there's an element of organic xenophobia that would make people sympathetic to the EU free movement idea, but I don't think that's enough to create a demand for daily updates on how 'bonkers brussels bureaucrats ban bent bannanas!' (a genuine story).

I don't think anybody ever has picked up a paper because they were dying to get the details about that particular scoop - and honestly, that was one of the most memorable ones.

I can see some grounds on which Euroscepticism was organic in england, but I also have absolutely no doubt that such an idea would never have been successful without the amount of media support it got.

I don't think anybody ever has picked up a paper because they were dying to get the details about that particular scoop - and honestly, that was one of the most memorable ones.

That was over a decade ago yet you remember it and are still talking about it. Obviously that was quite the scoop, which is exactly what newspapers love and how they make money.

A free press loves embarrassing governments by showing them doing stupid stuff. The press in Europe is a mockery of a free press because too many journalists at some point decided that the EU is a morally and ideologically pure vision of the future, so they just stopped reporting on all the bad stuff it does even when it'd make for interesting stories, whilst continuing to do such reports on their local governments. Except in the UK, where parts of the press retained their traditional role.

I think if this was true, nobody would bother printing them. It's not like they make much money.

Left wing super-pro-EU papers often don't indeed. Other papers do make money, plenty enough to justify making them. The Daily Mail made £72 million in profits in 2020 despite COVID. The Guardian bled money and announced job losses.

Political union was a stupid idea, Europeans all have different values that I doubt can be reconciled for the sake of good governance. I doubt the average German cares what a French cheese is called or what the dimensions of the wheel are, as long as it's safe to eat. Similarly, the average Frenchman gives absolutely zero shits about what's happening in Germany as long as there aren't troops forging through the Ardennes.

That and the structure of the EU government is a mess, the parliament has precisely zero impact on decision making and everything is run by the unelected bureaucrats in Belgium.

I get the argument, but I think if you look at the history of small nations sandwiched between large ones, you draw the opposite conclusion.

The UK has essentially walked away from a position of power in a very large nation, to take a position as a small nation on the periphery.

That might be fine for ten years, it might even be fine for fifty - but inevitably, the difference in negotiating power between the UK and its neighbors will show, to the UK's detriment.

It's already been showing in the brexit negotiations, where the EU held essentially all the cards.

What an interesting conclusion to draw. I wonder where you get your news from.

The UK/EU deal isn't perfect but Norway and Switzerland already pricked their ears up and senior politicians in both countries are now publicly questioning why they can't have the same sort of deal. The EU backed down on many things they'd previously claimed were requirements, like the ECJ. And the UK has signed over 60 trade deals in preparation for leaving.

There's a sort of assumption here that might makes right. But the richest countries in the world are all small ones: Switzerland, Singapore, etc. Meanwhile empires spent most of the 20th century collapsing, often due to internal corruption and decay.

I first thought about the problem when I read about the history of the Kashmir region, but actually, it's pretty universal in history. Ask any Mexican about how it is to be the neighbor of a much more powerful polity. Or a Lebanese person. Or an Okinawan. Or an Irish person.

I don't really know the details of the deal, but it seems to me that even if you do get a good deal at one point, the fact is, the UK has very little negotiating power in comparison to the EU. If the EU decided, much like the USA decided with Japan in the 80's, that the UK should sign an unfavourable deal like the Plaza Accord, the UK would be able to do very little but sign it.

Obviously, as you've pointed out, there are a ton of countries that, for some time, step their way around all the pitfalls of this kind of position. But none of them are as large as the UK.

So it turns out that we were able to test this theory EU supporters have about overwhelming negotiating power much faster than anyone anticipated, in the form of bulk purchasing of vaccines.

This is a perfect example where the EU should have totally crushed the UK by using its supposedly superior size and strength, according to size=power theory. And yet what we see is the opposite.

The EU demanded that individual nations buy collectively through the Commission. The Commission is run by diversity hires: half the commissioners had to be women, by demand of von der Leyen. They then moved way too slowly, didn't approve vaccines quickly (and still haven't), didn't order enough and now EU countries are at the back of the queue as a result. The first German to be vaccinated with German technology received their jab in ... the UK. The collective buying operation has since collapsed, with Germany running to Russia to try and acquire some of the Sputnik vaccine.

The whole pathetic affair is documented here:


When it comes to bureaucracies, size does not equal power. Size does not equal benefits. Size equals incompetence, lethargy and internal decay. The EU is run by people who failed upwards their entire careers. They insisted they be given power over vaccines even though the EU has no formal treaty-defined role in healthcare, and then they screwed it up on a massive scale.

> diversity hires

Oh dear. I suppose you think Boris Johnson got to where he was by his sharp intellect? Or does he also qualify as a diversity hire, on the basis that his family tree is more a family strongly-connected graph?

On the other hand, perhaps you are seeing the brilliance of british leadership in the coronavirus numbers, which are of course, neck and neck with other great nations, like the US, and Brazil.

Johnson won the London mayorship, leadership of his party and then an election (by a landslide), all of which were open and competitive contests. Love him or loathe him, he got to be PM by fighting for it: it wasn't handed to him on a plate. Far from it. His own colleague Michael Gove famously stabbed him in the back to stop him becoming PM on a prior occasion!

van der Leyen got to be head of the EU via an entirely secret process, about which we only have one public piece of evidence as to how it works: the claim that the next president of the Commission had to be a woman. She won nothing whatsoever to get there. Then she insisted that half of all Commissioners be women: this is a matter of public record. In theory she doesn't even get to influence the choice of Commissioners, that's meant to be up to the country, but the reality of the EU often doesn't seem to match what the treaties say.

COVID doesn't really respond to political leadership. That's one of the few things we can say about it with certainty. None of the interventions tried so far have any statistical correlation with healthcare outcomes. Vaccination programmes are quite responsive to politics, on the other hand (whether COVID will respond to vaccines is another topic, but the manufacturing and rollout are within the scope of human control).

> COVID doesn't really respond to political leadership. That's one of the few things we can say about it with certainty.

You clearly live in a parallel reality, where east asia does not exist, where there isn't a direct and obvious relation between leaders who made light of COVID (Johnson, Trump, Bolsanaro) and horrible casualty figures, and where the population of british people named 'Dave' has more talent than the entire population of british women.

Honestly, mandating 50 percent of commissioners are women seems very reasonable. 50 percent of the population are women, so it makes sense that they should be proportionally represented. That's called democracy.

For the record, I'm not a big EU fan. But I also live in the real world, and on that planet, the fact that the last two male prime ministers of england (and diverse cabinet members) were in the same school, the same (small) social club, and probably share more than a few second cousins, is an outcome that would be so incredibly unlikely in a fair and competitive system that if it did happen, reasonable people would call foul play.

If you still think it's a fair and competitive system that selects for talent if this kind of ridiculous anomaly happens on a regular basis, then you're a dupe. If, moreover, you think it's a fair and competitive system when nobody even claims it is fair, or competitive, or about talent, then you're a moron of such rare and unique quality that you're basically redefining the word.

Bolsonaro was not elected because WhatsApp, this was a fake news and the journalist that spread that lie was condoned by spreading fake news.

It surely does.

Social Media did not create division. Internet did not create division. TV did not create division.

They only amplify it. US was divided long before the creation of Internet. That baseline were far higher than other countries. Compared to other countries Internet definitely has its impact, but the baseline was small it isn't as obvious.

Let's put some number into it.

Division Score of US is 100, Internet Usage as a Multiplier, US also has one of the highest Internet usage ( especially with Social Media ) around the world. if you put that as 10. You get a total of 1000.

Division in Country A is 50, Internet usage as 4 ( If you take social media ads revenue split per capita between US and other countries as an indicator ), you have 200.

That is 5x difference.

Maybe it is affected by the number of people on the internet. Back in my initial internet troll days, you could go on pretty much any forum and know you would be treated fairly even if you were a dickhead.

Now you can start whole blood feuds talking about pineapple on pizza.

My money would be on a more homogeneous culture. Look at somewhere like Australia, the Scandinavian countries or NZ where we pretty much share our attitudes with the most of the others in the country.

As opposed to the US where you're pretty much divided on whether you grew up in the city, suburbs or rural and then again on state. A Californian is wildly different from a Texan, who are again wildly different from a Wisconsonian. The UK is similar with the divide between the north and south of England, the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish.

I think some of it is natural, but it's being amplified with the advent of globalism.

You had me until the Che, I didn’t get that reference. What’s that?

People on the right think very poorly of Che Guevara with not very strong evidence, so they make fun of people who wear shirts with his face on them

I mean, it's not like he killed gay people and wrote incredibly racist stuff about black people.

But my point was the people that idolise him online and think they're going to carry out a violent revolution are inevitably the same people that tweet abuse at Adele for losing weight.

So they dislike an actual Marxist for once.

So it's not the internet but social networks.

Theres not really a difference.

In 1995 it was a Usenet newsgroup, in 2005 it was a vBulletin forum, today it's a Twitter or Facebook community, tomorrow, it will be something else.

Facebook and Twitter get tons of hate because they make money hand over fist and founders/insiders become richer than god, (unlike Usenet or forum sites) but the internet has always been this way.

Don't forget about Reddit.

Reddit is designed around grouping people in echo chambers and users come to it for this reason. Facebook may still be more impactful due to the sheer volume of users, but I don't think Reddit's impact is negligeable.

There were higher barriers to entry into those groups in the 90s.

This is true, technology certainly has progressed and lowered the barrier to entry for this and many other things, but my point is that the internet is nothing more than a social network.

Also, you might be overestimating how high the barrier to entry was. There were over 200,000 usenet groups at the peak.

Remember, remember, Eternal September

Yeah, but tech-illiterate baby boomers weren't sharing fake news articles in Usenet groups.

Partly, I guess. The whole internet is a battlefield in the culture war now, though, and even completely unrelated subreddits start banning people who post in the "wrong" places even if they're otherwise following the rules. That and wikipedia is a complete mess now, instead of celebrating what we could build together academics are holding "edit-a-thons" where they tell students to put the lecturer's slant on everything. I have a feeling we might actually be in WW3 and it won't be nuclear, it'll be all about who can distribute their propaganda most effectively.

As an aside, even though HN has a distinct left bias I would say it's definitely one of the fairest forums I've posted on in the last couple of years.

The Social Dilemma movie highlights this brilliantly, as does Tristan Harris in his Joe Rohan interview https://youtube.com/watch?v=OaTKaHKCAFg

Internet or population?

I completely agree with you.

Look at what the press was saying about Lincoln before the war. Nothing new these days.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact