Michelle Goldberg | Don’t Let Politics Cloud Your View of What’s Going On With Teens and Depression – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Last year, a study came out showing that left-leaning adolescents were experiencing a greater increase in depression than their more conservative peers. Indeed, while girls are more likely to be depressed than boys, the study, by a group of epidemiologists at Columbia, showed that liberal boys had higher rates of depression than conservative girls.

Because I wrote quite a bit about the dire psychological fallout of Donald Trump’s abusive presidency, I was immediately interested in the study, titled “The Politics of Depression.” It’s long been known that liberals tend to be more depressed than conservatives, which you can interpret as either a cause or an effect of their unhappiness with the status quo. But innate factors couldn’t explain why, among the 12th graders the study examined, the gap in depressive symptoms between liberals and conservatives appeared to be growing. Nor could those factors explain why, after several years in which liberal girls and liberal boys endured roughly equal rates of depression, girls who identified as liberal had started having a much harder time.”

David Lindsay: Excellent essay, thank you Michelle Goldberg. Here is a comment I admired:

Belleville, ILFeb. 24

This is a solid analysis, although I wish Goldberg had followed through a bit more on the asymmetry between conservative- and liberal-leaning teens. My theory? One the defining features of progressivism is its relentless deconstruction of everything (else) in society. I’m summarizing, but the basic narrative is that anything that offers structures, roles, or rules to youth–capitalism, religion, traditional gender roles, correctly answering math problems, etc.–is a really just a manifestation of white male privilege. No, this narrative isn’t often taught to schoolchildren directly. But the view reigns supreme among the cultural elite, and it trickles down to kids in schools, media, or at home. Youth who are tuned into left-leaning thinking for whatever reason are, almost by definition, more immersed in it. Youth, especially, need structures, roles, and rules. These days, conservative-leaning kids are more likely to be able to start defining themselves with the help of these frameworks, and it makes sense they are happier for it. Anyway, just my theory. Meanwhile, this is what the educational front in the culture wars is all about, and it applies to our society generally: Can we allow youth to have a few years to form their identities with the help of traditional social frameworks? Or must we deconstruct them from day 1 of kindergarten and start every child off in life with a blank moral slate? I think we’re seeing how the latter is working out…

18 Replies494 Recommended

Elon Musk Puts His Own Politics on Display on Election Day – The New York Times

Elon Musk put himself and his politics center stage on Twitter on Election Day.

“The world’s richest man began his day on Tuesday by tweeting to his 115 million followers that they should vote Republican in the midterm elections. He said he was not being motivated by criticism that he has faced from Democrats over his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, which he completed last month, along with his other business dealings.

“While it’s true that I’ve been under unfair & misleading attack for some time by leading Democrats, my motivation here is for centrist governance, which matches the interests of most Americans,” Mr. Musk said.”

David Lindsay:  This is upsetting. I have been saving up to buy a new Tesla next year.  Now, I will be shopping for one of its new competitors. Trumpsters who insist that the last presidential election was stolen, with no evidence,  are conspiracy theory mongereres who do not bring balance to the democracy, they threaten its health, possibly its survival.

Elon Musk Completes $44 Billion Deal to Own Twitter – The New York Times

Kate Conger and 

Kate Conger reports on technology from San Francisco and Lauren Hirsch reports on mergers and acquisitions from New York.

“After months of waffling, lawsuits, verbal mudslinging and the near miss of a full blown trial, Elon Musk now owns Twitter.

On Thursday night, Mr. Musk closed his $44 billion deal to buy the social media service, said three people with knowledge of the situation. He also began cleaning house, with at least four top Twitter executives — including the chief executive and chief financial officer — getting fired on Thursday. Mr. Musk had arrived at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Wednesday and met with engineers and ad executives.

The closing of the deal, which followed months of drama and legal challenges as Mr. Musk changed his mind about buying the company, sets Twitter on an uncertain course. Mr. Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” has said that he wants to make the social media platform a more freewheeling place for all types of commentary and that he would “reverse the permanent ban” of former President Donald J. Trump from the service.”

David Lindsay:

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT8h ago

@David Baldwin Yes, I agree. (Bad news for the democracy)  If Twitter under Musk lets fascists and the progagators of massive lies and conspiracy theories back on twitter, such as Trump, it will not be good for the US or the world. In protest, my partner and I will have to give up our plan to buy a new Tesla in the next two years. Luckily, the competition is starting to put out their own models. It is sad, since Tesla right now is a marvel of the world, and great win for America.

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net


Opinion | Farhad Manjoo: I Was Wrong to support Facebook – The New York TimesFarhad

Opinion Columnist

“Early in 2009, I offered the world some tech advice that I have regretted pretty much ever since: I told everyone to join Facebook.

Actually, that’s putting it mildly. I didn’t just tell people. I harangued. I mocked. Writing in Slate, I all but reached through the screen, grabbed Facebook skeptics by the lapels and scolded them for being pompous, mirthless Luddites. “There is no longer any good reason to avoid Facebook,” I wrote shortly after the then-five-year-old company announced growing to 150 million users worldwide. “The site has crossed a threshold — it is now so widely trafficked that it’s fast becoming a routine aid to social interaction, like email and antiperspirant.”

I wasn’t just wrong about Facebook; I had the matter exactly backward. Had we all decided to leave Facebook then or at any time since, the internet and perhaps the world might now be a better place. The question of how much better and in what way is a matter of considerable debate. It might be decades before we have any sense of an answer to whether, on balance, Facebook in particular and social networks more generally have improved or ruined society.”

Zeynep Tufekci | Digital Technology Invaded Our Lives. Now Women May Pay For It. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Over 130 years ago, a young lawyer saw an amazing new gadget and had a revolutionary vision — technology can threaten our privacy.

“Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person,” wrote the lawyer, Louis Brandeis, warning that laws needed to keep up with technology and new means of surveillance, or Americans would lose their “right to be left alone.”

Decades later the right to privacy discussed in that 1890 law review article and Brandeis’s opinions as a Supreme Court justice, especially in the context of new technology, would be cited as a foundational principle of the constitutional protections for many rights, including contraception, same-sex intimacy and abortion.

Now the Supreme Court seems poised to rule that there is no constitutional protection for the right to abortion. Surveillance made possible by minimally-regulated digital technologies could help law enforcement track down women who might seek abortions and medical providers who perform them in places where it would become criminalized. Women are urging one another to delete phone apps like period trackers that can indicate they are pregnant.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
All important stuff, well explained. Thank you Zeynep Tufekci. The Europeans are apparently passing good laws for protection, that we could copy, and then we wouldn’t be starting from scratch. InconvenientNews.net

Frances Haugen | I Blew the Whistle on Facebook. Europe Just Showed Us the Next Step. – The New York Times

Ms. Haugen is a former Facebook product manager who focused on combating misinformation and espionage.

“Elon Musk’s deal to take Twitter private, which has spurred questions about power, censorship and safety for the future of the platform, happened just days after the European Union reached a landmark agreement to make social media less toxic for users. The new E.U. standards, and the ethic of transparency on which they are based, will for the first time pull back the curtain on the algorithms that choose what we see and when we see it in our feeds.

In Europe’s case, the dryly named Digital Services Act is the most significant piece of social media legislation in history. It goes to the heart of what I’ve tried to do as a whistle-blower who worked inside Facebook: make social media far better without impinging on free speech. Today, Facebook’s poorly implemented content moderation strategies leave those most at risk of real world violence unprotected and only consistently succeed at one thing: angering everyone.

Last October, I came forward a with a simple message: Facebook knew it was cutting corners to make more money, and the public was paying the price. In over 20,000 pages of documents that I disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to Congress, the public learned what Facebook already knew — its products were spurring hate and divisionleading teenagers into rabbit holes of self-harm and anorexia, leaving millions of users without basic safety systems for hate speech or violence incitement and, at times, were even used to sell humans across the platform.”

Ezra Klein | Elon Musk Got Twitter Because He Gets Twitter – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Can Elon Musk break Twitter? I hope so.

I’m not accusing Musk of being a sleeper agent. The man loves Twitter. He tweets as if he was raised by the blue bird and the fail whale. Three days before locking in his purchase of the platform, Musk blasted out an unflattering photograph of Bill Gates, and next to it, an illustration of a pregnant man. “in case u need to lose a boner fast,” Time’s 2021 Person of the Year told his more than 80 million followers. Musk believed Gates was shorting Tesla’s stock, and this was his response. It got over 165,000 retweets and 1.3 million likes. That’s a man who understands what Twitter truly is.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former chief executive, always wanted it to be something else. Something it wasn’t, and couldn’t be. “The purpose of Twitter is to serve the public conversation,” he said in 2018. Twitter began “measuring conversational health” and trying to tweak the platform to burnish it. Sincere as the effort was, it was like those liquor ads advising moderation. You don’t get people to drink less by selling them whiskey. Similarly, if your intention was to foster healthy conversation, you’d never limit thoughts to 280 characters or add like and retweet buttons or quote-tweet features. Twitter can’t be a home to hold healthy conversation because that’s not what it’s built to do.

So what is Twitter built to do? It’s built to gamify conversation. As C. Thi Nguyen, a philosopher at the University of Utah, has written, it does that “by offering immediate, vivid and quantified evaluations of one’s conversational success. Twitter offers us points for discourse; it scores our communication. And these gamelike features are responsible for much of Twitter’s psychological wallop. Twitter is addictive, in part, because it feels so good to watch those numbers go up and up.” “

Anand Giridharadas | Elon Musk Is a Problem Masquerading as a Solution – The New York Times

Anand Giridharadas is the author, most recently, of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.”

“It is a perfect marriage for an age of plutocracy: Twitter with its serious problems and Elon Musk, the embodiment of those problems. What happens when the incarnation of a problem buys the right to decide what the problem is and how to fix it?

Twitter has a disinformation problem — fake news about Covid vaccinesclimate and more running buck wild across the platform. Mr. Musk has shown himself to be a highly capable peddler of dubious claims, whether putting out misleading financial information or calling the British diver who helped rescue trapped schoolboys in Thailand a “pedo guy.”

Twitter has a racism problem. Time and again, it has failed to consequentially answer the pleas of users of color to address the bigotry and harassment that are endemic for them. Tesla, the carmaker that Mr. Musk runs, has its own racism problem, with many workers complaining to the press and California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing suing the company over an allegedly pervasive problem of racialized degradation. The agency recently described one of Tesla’s plants as “a racially segregated workplace” rife with slurs as well as discrimination “in job assignments, discipline, pay and promotion.”

Twitter has a bullying and harassment problem, and the subtler but related challenge of bringing out the worst, not the best, in all of us. Mr. Musk is the incarnation of these problems, too. Though you might think that having more than $250 billion, according to Forbes, and wanting to solve the problems of Earth and space would fully occupy someone, he seems to have a compulsive need to belittle people and burp out his least-considered impulses and stoke bullying by his legions of admirers in a way that both reflects and shapes how Twitter is.”

Anand Giridharadas | Elon Musk Is a Problem Masquerading as a Solution – The New York Times

Anand Giridharadas is the author, most recently, of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.”

“It is a perfect marriage for an age of plutocracy: Twitter with its serious problems and Elon Musk, the embodiment of those problems. What happens when the incarnation of a problem buys the right to decide what the problem is and how to fix it?

Twitter has a disinformation problem — fake news about Covid vaccinesclimate and more running buck wild across the platform. Mr. Musk has shown himself to be a highly capable peddler of dubious claims, whether putting out misleading financial information or calling the British diver who helped rescue trapped schoolboys in Thailand a “pedo guy.” “

Restaurants Ditch Phone Lines, Making Employees’ Lives Easier – The New York Times

“Harley Esposito, 30, was surprised when she couldn’t find a phone number for Hotel Greene, a mini-golf, bar and restaurant space near her home in Richmond, Va. After going to Hotel Greene for a work event, she needed a copy of her receipt. Looking through Hotel Greene’s website, she saw a small note: “We do not have a phone line.”

“I Googled them and didn’t see a phone number listed, and I was like: Oh, that’s weird,” she said. “I was just surprised by it more than anything, because I’ve never seen it before. I was like: How do they expect people to get in touch with them?”

Like Hotel Greene, restaurants around the country are pulling the plug on their phone lines. Channeling all communication through emails, direct messages on social media and reservations apps might frustrate diners and deter those who are technology averse, but restaurants are finding that communicating this way frees up time for front-of-house employees, is more efficient for restaurant administrators and gives flexibility to restaurants operating with a small team or through Covid-related staffing shortages.”