It's even worse than it appears.
Friday January 10, 2020; 9:02 AM EST
  • One of the nice things about the nightly email distribution of Scripting News is that I hear directly from readers. Most of the responses are thoughtful and informative, and that's great. But sometimes I receive responses that are neither thoughtful or informative, like the one I received yesterday (author's name withheld so it isn't personal), quoted below.#
    • "Just because a billion people do something doesn’t mean the thing they do is good. Two examples: smoking tobacco and dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Facebook use is undercutting democracy around the world. It’s not getting better. We need something like Wikipedia but in the Facebook arena."#
  • First, this was not written by a journalist, but it could have been. It's more or less the party line among journalists. #
  • Second, I am a former smoker, and it was definitely damaging my health, a cardiologist who had just operated on my heart said so. I stopped, and believe I am healthier as a result. I am still alive, and that's something. But I have to say there were positive things about smoking. I won't go into them here and now, I just want to say that they exist. #
  • Third, the correspondent is indulging in a logical falacy. It's true some popular things are bad, but that doesn't mean all popular things are bad, nor are all bad things bad in all ways. His second example "dumping CO2 into the atmosphere" is bad, but driving cars is often good. An ambulance that saves someone's life is dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Later today I'm going to drive to get groceries. That's good. I use electricity to heat my house. On a cold night, where the temperature can go down into the teens, believe me that's good. And to get the heat I am dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. #
  • As someone who uses Facebook, let me testify that many of the things that happen there are good, unique, empowering and fun -- things I wouldn't want to live without. These things are certainly worth understanding before dismissing the whole medium. You can learn from something you don't like. A billion people doing something raises the question "What are they doing?" We should aspire to not dismiss before understanding, imho.#
  • A little unsolicited advice. Don't be so rigid. If someone you respect says something is worth doing, if you dismiss it with a generalization you can't prove, you're missing something, and probably not just in this area. Living a creative and interesting life imho requires considering possibilities you might have rejected without much consideration, stepping outside your comfort zone. Keep an open mind. Challenge your assumptions.#
  • Nowadays when you go to a baseball game there is never a moment when the PA system shuts up so you can talk about the game with your friends. This used to be one of the nicest things about going to a live game. The shared experience. Now they play commercials every minute that baseball isn't being played. On top of the $100 you paid for the seat. We are coerced into singing God Bless America, a truly awful song, instead of Take Me Out To the Ballgame, as a form of weak patriotism (weak because if they understood America, they'd realize that forcing people to pray to your god is about as un-American as it gets). We have to rise to thank the troops who protect our freedom in Afghanistan, even if you don't believe that's what's going on. That's the world that Facebook exists in. So if you don't like the commercialism of Facebook, the lies that advertisers tell, you should have the same feeling about America's national pastime. And Facebook isn't nearly that bad, btw. And some very good things happen there. #

© 1994-2019 Dave Winer.

Last update: Friday January 10, 2020; 9:34 AM EST.

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