Social media hates your soul?

This Jaron Lanier interview is one of the most fascinating things I've read this year. Thanks to Rod Dreher for pointing it out.

The argument is that social media hates your soul. And it suggests that there’s a whole spiritual, religious belief system along with social media like Facebook that I think people don’t like. And it’s also fucking phony and false. It suggests that life is some kind of optimization, like you’re supposed to be struggling to get more followers and friends. Zuckerberg even talked about how the new goal of Facebook would be to give everybody a meaningful life, as if something about Facebook is where the meaning of life is.

It suggests that you’re just a cog in a giant global brain or something like that. The rhetoric from the companies is often about AI, that what they’re really doing — like YouTube’s parent company, Google, says what they really are is building the giant global brain that’ll inherit the earth and they’ll upload you to that brain and then you won’t have to die. It’s very, very religious in the rhetoric. And so it’s turning into this new religion, and it’s a religion that doesn’t care about you. It’s a religion that’s completely lacking in empathy or any kind of personal acknowledgment. And it’s a bad religion. It’s a nerdy, empty, sterile, ugly, useless religion that’s based on false ideas. And I think that of all of the things, that’s the worst thing about it.

I mean, it’s sort of like a cult of personality. It’s like in North Korea or some regime where the religion is your purpose to serve this one guy. And your purpose is to serve this one system, which happens to be controlled by one guy, in the case of Facebook.

It’s not as blunt and out there, but that is the underlying message of it and it’s ugly and bad. I loathe it, and I think a lot of people have that feeling, but they might not have articulated it or gotten it to the surface because it’s just such a weird and new situation.

School shootings in perspective

Less than .0001% of American kids since 2000 have been injured in a school shooting.

Yes, it's tempting to think that "one is too many." But the fact is, kids are safer at school than almost anywhere else. Certainly safer than they are at home.

Don't buy into the hysteria. It sounds horrible to say, but the fact is, the United States simply does not have a "school shooting problem." Take a look at this map. Then think about the size of America's student population (currently 55 million).

As with anything, this is about percentages. Ratios. Trade-offs. Thinking about gun violence this way will lead to the best outcomes for everyone.

Less than .0001% of students injured in school shooting. Is comprehensive gun control affecting tens of millions of people really a proportionate response? No.

On that note, does the US even have a general (not just school) gun problem? The statistics here are often misleading. In 2013, for example, around 33,000 people were killed by firearms in the US. 2/3 of these were suicides. That leaves 11,000 people killed by firearms that year by someone other than themselves.

That's question #1 to ask when viewing gun stats: Do these figures include suicides?

On to "mass shootings." Since 1980, "mass shootings" represent less than 1% of all gun-related deaths. And that's with a more liberal definition of "mass shooting" than I think most would agree with. It's based purely on numbers, and doesn't account for whether someone killed was involved with illegal activity (i.e. drugs) that, in some way, prompted the violence.

The type of mostly-random mass shooting that took place in Parkland? Almost never happens. "Indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in more than four victims killed" happens less than a dozen times per year, using almost any definition of "public places."

That's question #2 to ask when viewing gun stats: What percent of these figures comprise "mass shootings" of the sort that sparks our gun control debates?

Mass shootings are rare. Statistically, your kids are in almost no danger of being shot at school. They're far more likely to be shot at home.

Comprehensive gun control legislation is simply a vastly disproportionate response to what's actually going on.