Cancel culture is not a serious issue

Usually, it's just people actually facing consequences for terrible things.

Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague).

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It’s always telling to look at who actually “cares” (perhaps, “amplifies for profit” would be a more apt phrase) about an issue, and cancel culture breaks down in particularly stark fashion. Half of America doesn’t really even know what the term means, nor do they really care. If you’re interested in the origins of the term in Black internet culture—and just want a good read about cultural appropriation generally—check out this piece by Clyde McGrady (@CAMcGrady).

According to this YouGov poll (link to pdf) from February, one’s ideology is a pretty solid indicator as to how they view cancel culture. 26% each of respondents who label themselves as “Conservative” or “Very Conservative” put cancel culture in their list of top 5 issues facing the country. It was 1% each for the “Liberal” and “Very Liberal” respondents.

Young people are quite familiar with the whole discourse—it will likely be one of the culture war boogeymen they deal with for most of their lives, after all. 80% of people between the ages of 18-44 are at least “somewhat familiar” with the term, but they don’t rank it as a crucial issue. This will have electoral impacts, as young Republicans are absolutely embracing the “issue” as a core tenet of their identity. Read this bit from this great piece by Meredith Conroy (@sidney_b) for FiveThirtyEight:

And many young Republicans are white. In fact, the largest bloc of young Republicans (ages 18 to 29) are white men, according to a 2018 survey from Tuft University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which found that among young voters, white men were the only racial or gender group to align with the GOP in the midterms. This is important because polling by the Public Religion Research Institute, also from 2018, found that 43 percent of young white men (ages 15 to 24) think that discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against Black people and other minority groups. In fact, almost half said in that poll that diversity efforts will harm white people.

And there it is (as Jeff Goldblum might say).

Because it really is that simple. The fact is that people are facing consequences for their words and actions, and in most cases, any sort of “canceling” is actually a set of societal consequences. Getting kicked off YouTube for saying the Holocaust was fake, or, say, being banned from Twitter because you incited an insurrection at the Capitol, are not examples of being canceled—they are the consequences of toxic, damaging speech. Full stop.

Remember when Sen. Josh Hawley was “canceled” by Simon & Shuster? He was so canceled that he had to go on some of the most-watched cable news shows to talk about how canceled he was. He then talked about how canceled he was on the floor of the Senate. He went on to detail the extent of his cancellation in an op-ed for the New York Post. Oh to be muzzled like that, in front of millions of people.

Free speech does not mean speech without consequences. In fact, it means that you may well face consequences for the things you say, and there may even be a movement created to actively counter the things you say. And, more importantly, a lot of the people crowing the loudest about being canceled are people with tremendous reach (look at these two tweets, and follow the @FacebooksTop10 account).

It’s so fascinating to see people who have trotted out “The marketplace of ideas” as a philosophy actively work against the existence of that marketplace when it doesn’t serve them. Like so much of what they do, it’s just grift, plain and simple. Society be damned.

Roxane Gay gets it.

- Sree
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Read Something

I am, admittedly, a sucker for inside baseball in the media industry—especially when it comes to the big three. The Wall St. Journal does some great reporting, but it’s opinion pages are just so tired and predictable. Very curious to see how things go (and you know if Walt says it’s a good report, it’s surely is).

2021: The Year of Goodbyes in Tech?

By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Robert S. Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.

While most of us were quite happy to say goodbye (among other things) to the year 2020, 2021 seems to be turning into a year of goodbyes in the tech industry. A handful of tech products and services that once dominated their markets are now destined for dominant spots in tech museums.

In 2021, we’ve already seen the demise of a video platform, the end of the line for a popular smartphone brand and the stripping of features from a well-used texting and calling platform.  

Last week LG announced that it would “exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector” by July 31, thus leaving behind a legacy of powerful, camera-laden, well-engineered Android smartphones—that simply weren’t selling well enough. Cutting-edge units like the stunning LG Wing 5G, with its swiveling 6.8-inch screen, 3.9-inch secondary display, three rear cameras and pop-up front camera, seemed to offer sophisticated answers to questions that not enough customers were asking.

LG, which according to Reuters holds a 10 per cent share of the US smartphone market, said it would “…focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence…” and other services.

On March 31, Twitter sank its Periscope live video streaming app, a service which did so well when it launched in March 2015 that it drove Meerkat, it’s one-month-older competition, offline by 2016. According to Periscope, risings costs and declining usage had left the app “in an unsustainable maintenance-mode state” and said many of Periscope’s capabilities are available in Twitter.

Google’s popular Hangouts communications platform recently lost its ability to make phone calls or trade text messages with those not on the platform. Instead, users are being pointed to Google Voice, which offers free and low-cost calling and texting services and used to be integrated with Hangouts. According to Google, the move to pull the calling features in Hangouts was due to new US and European communications regulations.

So, what else will we be saying goodbye to in 2021? Let’s hope the list starts with Covid-19.


Listen to Something

The Derek Chauvin trial is showing how hard it is to prosecute police officers, full stop. It’s been pretty shocking to see his colleagues, including the Chief of Police, testify against him, which really made me think that I wish it weren’t so shocking. CNN even called it “unprecedented.” Post Reports has a good episode wrapping it all together, with Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve.

Listen here or on all major podcast platforms.

Watch Something

Hate and racism against Asian Americans may have faded from the headlines (far too quickly), but it’s an issue that isn’t going away any time soon. While tragedies tend to make headlines, living in fear of racism is a very real everyday fear for millions of people.

Odds & Ends

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