I came across the above headline, “Modern Martyrdom,” on a well-known conservative/Christian website. You can easily find the source, but I’m not going to name it—in part because I respect a lot of the work they do, and in part because they’re not the only ones who peddle this nonsense.
True: most critics of “cancel culture” wouldn’t compare getting kicked off Twitter to being hung, drawn, and quartered by Elizabethan priest-hunters. That’s pretty extra, as the kids used to say.
Still, when I was in high school, only shallow teenaged girls would say, “If I can’t use Facebook, I may as well be dead.” Today, it’s the amantra of the American Right.
Think about it. Zuckbook was founded in 2004. I was just about to enter fifth grade. Joe Biden was a spry 61-year-old senator from Delaware. It’s almost certain that you, dear reader, were born before the advent of social media. Certainly your mom and dad were. So were the previous 7,500 generations of human beings, going all the way back to Adam and Eve.
And yet, already—not two decades later—when someone gets kicked off Twitter, we comparing them to the Martyrs of the Church.
On the one hand, this shows what a powerful grip social media has over our discourse. And it’s true that, if you’re not on the Twitbook, it’s a little harder to get a hearing in the public square. When I quit social media early in my career, I knew I might be committing professional suicide. I’ve heard from so many powerful journalists that one’s Twitter presence is now the single-most important factor in whether or not one will get a job in this industry. If you don’t use social media at all, there are some employers who won’t even consider your application.
That’s all right. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Because, to my mind, that has always been one of the main reasons not to use social media. I don’t care if it’s the government or a private corporation: nobody should have as much control over information as Silicon Valley does today. That’s too much power for any individual or group to wield responsibly.
And here we come to my next point. Do you want to know who’s giving Facebook the power to censor conservative newspapers? Conservatives. Do you know who’s giving YouTube the power to shut down conservative vloggers? Conservatives. And do you know who’s helping Twitter bring in $4 billion a year? Its users… about half of whom probably call themselves conservatives.
This is what drives me nuts. It would be so easy to kill Silicon Valley if we just deleted our accounts. We’re the ones giving them all their power and wealth. And we can take it away, too, simply by refusing to use their service.
It really baffles me that conservatives have such a hard time with this concept. Silicon Valley is a liberal entity. It’s a confederation of liberal corporation run by liberals to serve liberal ends. You can’t get mad when they act like liberals.
I mean, you can if you really want to. But that’s just stupid. It’s as if a dude went to a lesbian bar every Friday night and spent $200 buying drinks for the lady-patrons, only to rage when—yet again—he goes home without a single phone number.
I’ve tried so many times to make this argument in mainstream conservative magazines. The editors all say the same thing: “Maybe you’re right, but we’re never going to boycott social media.”
And therein lies the problem.
When conservatives lose—and we will—it won’t be because liberal jackboots come to our houses in the middle of the night and drag us off to gulags. No: when conservatives lose, it will be because we’re too lazy and complacent to actually fight back.
“I guess I could delete my Facebook account. But then how would I see the bikini selfies my old roommate’s ex-girlfriend posts from her vacation to Tijuana? I’m sorry, Mike, but you’re asking too much.”
Conservatives talk like shallow teenaged girls because we think like shallow teenaged girls. We’re afraid of being kicked off social media because we’re addicted to social media. And whatever high-minded rhetoric we use to justify that addiction, it’s still an addiction.
It’s the same with Amazon. We all know that Amazon is evil. We know it’s crushing small and medium-sized businesses. We know it’s slowly banning conservative perspectives and funneling money to left-wing groups like Black Lives Matter. And yet how many of us are boycotting Amazon? How many of us are opting to use one of the millions of alternative online retail sites—or, you know, driving five minutes to Walmart?
“I guess I could cancel my Prime account. But, Mike… what about the free two-day shipping? Gah! It’s such a moral conundrum!”
No, it’s not. You’re just lazy. You’ve been using Amazon Prime for—what? Five, maybe ten years? And you already can’t imagine life without it.
Do you know what our grandparents did when they wanted a cat butt tissue holder? They went down to Happy Joe’s Cat Butt Tissue Dispenser Emporium and bought one. Actually, scratch that: they didn’t have cat butt tissue dispensers, because they weren’t decadent weirdos.
Amazon sells absolutely nothing that you can’t make yourself or buy at a big-box store within ten miles of your home. It sells virtually nothing you could ever conceivably want that isn’t available somewhere else on the internet. But we still go to Amazon, because we’re too lazy to spend that extra minute Googling “cat butt tissue holder” and buying it from a smaller retailer. Plus, two-day free shipping!
Maybe my editors are right. Maybe conservatives will never wean themselves from the silicon teat of the Bezos-Zuckerberg-Dorsey borg. If so, we deserve to lose. And we will lose.
Go bravely to your death, dear comrades. But, please, don’t tip the firing squad.