This week in curiosities: Vaush on how deplatforming works, Cal Newport on “intellectual groupieism”, and TST TV’s amazing show Unraveling
Vaush, one of my favorite Youtubers, released an interesting video responding to a wave of nazi purges on youtube. While acknowledging the problems of massive, private corporations wielding so much power over public speech, he also insists that deplatforming works. Want to defeat Nazis? Make sure they don’t have a broad platform with which they can influence the masses. This is a complicated issue, though, and people I respect have all different perspectives on deplatforming. Please share your thoughts on this video in the comments below.
On his podcast Deep Questions, Cal Newport challenged his audience to develop deep, personal philosophies by doing the hard work of engaging with texts and thinking deeply. He laments that we have forgotten this skill, and instead have devolved to “intellectual groupies” on social media.
Starting around 1:05, he states:
I think a lot of what we see on social media is basically what I call intellectual groupieism. Like, I don’t want to do the work, someone else tell me the cliffnotes. What are the basic ideas we all agree with, and more importantly, what’s good and what’s bad, and what do I do to make sure I do the good thing and not the bad thing? like great, I’m with it. And now I’m going to, with great fervor, push this philosophy, but there is nothing below it. You haven’t read any of the things, you haven’t done the hard reading, you haven’t confronted the criticism, you haven’t read the alternative and let that collide and then let your roots grow deep. On social media you are often just a groupie for intellectuals, and say, “I just trust you. Just give me the cliffnotes I need, because I just want to go around with your metaphorical jam band and make sure I have bootleg tapes from your concerts…” We don’t do this anymore – we don’t build philosophies from scratch, we don’t go to the sources. Social media says “don’t bother with that. In fact, if you do bother with it, we might yell at you, so just come on, we will just give you the cliff notes.”
I think his criticism of social media culture is right on point, and I feel the sting of his rebuke. I’ve been guilty myself of riding an intellectual bandwagon without doing the hard work to establish a deeper understanding.
In a world of shallows, going deep is a Satanic act of rebellion and empowerment. May we all take the time to read and think deeply.
Speaking of thinking deeply and doing the work, my friend Priest Penemue (AKA Greg Stevens) has an amazing show on TST TV called Unraveling in which he and his cohost Gregory Stevens (yes, same name) do the hard work of sorting through leftism, Satanism, politics, protest, and more. Penemue and Gregory have some profoundly divergent intuitions, and they take the time to lean in to the discomfort and work out their differences. It’s becoming one of my favorite shows, because such good faith, long-form and difficult discourse is so rare these days. Their conversations are challenging, thoughtful, and inspiring.
While TST TV does require a subscription, you can get one month free with my code SACREDTENSION at checkout. I hope you take the time to sign up and check out Unraveling, as well as their other content on offer. Watch Unraveling here.
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