Social Justice … What?!

I am a Social Justice Curmudgeon. (It says so right there, up top.) I don’t have a high-enough strength stat to be a Social Justice Warrior, and I can’t sing, so Social Justice Bard is right out. If life were a D&D campaign, I’d probably be the bartender in your starting village.

I consider myself to be firmly rooted in introversion. Social interactions drain me. Quiet time alone refreshes me. Any time I’m in a group of more than four people, chances are good I’m going to spend most of the outing looking at my phone or talking to one specific person. If I’m being gregarious, it’s a defense mechanism.

I also consider social justice to be a fundamental characteristic of a functional society. I believe that any society is only as healthy and functional as its least-fortunate, least-privileged members, and that it is an ethical duty of the privileged to use that privilege for the greater good. I agree with John Scalzi that Straight White Male is the lowest difficulty mode there is. I also happen to be a cissexual, heterosexual, white male.

I believe that equality is for everyone. I believe that love is love. I believe that black lives matter. I believe that trans women are women, and that trans men are men. (My pronouns, by the way, are he/him.) I believe that GamerGate was never about ethics in games journalism. I believe that there is no such thing as too much nuance when it comes to important topics of conversation.

I am a Social Justice Curmudgeon because, while I probably like you on an individual level, Dear Reader, as a collective group I find you all exhausting, and I’d just as soon be at home with a good video game and a nice glass of scotch.

(Please envision me telling you this as kindly as possible.)

Signal : Noise

Two weeks ago, I deleted my Facebook account.

It was a decision made slowly. It wasn’t a reaction to the Cambridge Analytica thing, but watching Facebook fumble their way through the damage control on that was certainly an aggravating factor in the decision. Facebook is an advertising platform, and its users are the product.

This is not to say that the service is useless. Far from it. Facebook enables communication, commerce, and surreptitious stalking of one’s ex-partners in ways previously unforeseen. It’s an effortless way to stay in touch with a thousand of your nearest and dearest. As Facebook will eagerly remind you, the service connects people, and connection is important. Right?

I say, “yes and no.”

Conscious, deliberate, and intentional connection is important. It’s how we relate to the world, and how we get data about who we are as people. It helps us feel less alone in the big, scary world. (Yes, the world is big and scary, even when you’re in your thirties. The monsters under the bed just have different names now.) Broadening and reinforcing your social circle can be helpful.

Passive and unintentional connection — the kind you get when you’re friending people you don’t really know — is less so. It’s clutter, and it’s noise. I don’t think it really serves anything, and the bandwidth required for even the most passive connections (accept friend request, unfollow “friend”) became more than I cared to spend, and that was before I factored in the endless noise of advertisements, or people reposting intellectually lazy jokes and slacktivist memes.

Time and energy are finite resources. I find I’m happier when I’m conscious of how I spend each and deliberate in how I choose to spend them. I’ve definitely caught myself glancing down at my phone when I’m bored, or when I’m lonely, to fill the empty moments with anything, even if it’s the intellectual equivalent of gruel. It’s learned behavior now. Technology has enabled us to never have an empty moment. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but I’m heavily skeptical.

While I’m glad to have muted the background din of Facebook, I am consciously aware of not being able to see what my friends are up to at any given moment. I still think connection is important, and I still want to connect with people. I simply want to do it my own way, and without an army of advertisers analyzing every interaction I have with the service. How much of your privacy do you want to give away, and what do you ask for it in return?

Hence, this blog.