I read Scott McKay’s recent article in The American Spectator. I cannot agree more with the diagnosis nor disagree more with the solution. My opinion about Jack Dorsey and the technological nouveau riche who share an equal fondness for Vipassanā meditation and marijuana is well known. Somehow I was a pioneer in this repulsion, because years ago I published the booklet I Killed an Internet Guru (After He Tried to Teach Me How to Program the Washing Machine), a title that subtly reveals my misgivings. Then I discovered that I was not alone: it was the best-selling book of humor in Spain in 2012. The publisher presented it as “the smart home manual that clumsy people all over the world are waiting for.” And apparently, there are a lot of clumsy people who share with me their reticence towards appliances that talk to you, washing machines that connect to Amazon and buy detergent as if they were junkies, and in general all the junk that makes important decisions in my house without asking me first.
Of course, I’m not just talking about Google, Amazon, or social networks. Roughly speaking, the thesis is that a house that forces you to dance flamenco in front of a photoelectric cell in order to turn on the light in the hallway is not a home, but rather a hell, no matter how “smart” it is. For the rest of it, I slap the Big Tech gurus in the face, and give various practical tips for surviving under the fire of the technological underworld, including this one on general electronics that cooked up quite a storm among the maniacs I have for readers: “the worst way to fix a broken socket is to throw a glass of water over the electrician who is repairing it.” A paradox, however: the book’s success came from word of mouth … on the damn social networks!
A few hours ago we saw Jack Dorsey (Jack is the thing on top of those seven meters of goatee) confess his most perverse plans in a leaked video. He looks like someone who has traveled to Pyin Oo Lwin to spend 10 days in silence among Buddhist monks to find himself, and instead of finding himself, he has gotten even more lost. No one is surprised by what is happening. Everything Scott McKay describes is like this: the technological giants have teamed up to expel all conservatives from public debate. Of course, Trump is not the only target, as Dorsey has admitted. It’s you and me.
It is too late to take certain steps. Even though we hate Facebook, Chrome, TikTok — we especially hate that one — and any other invention post–steam engine, to live with our backs to them all is already utopian. I can’t stand most of the political class either, but that doesn’t mean I’m catching a plane to Thailand, where the final decision on anything is made by the craziest king in the world, Rama X, who celebrated his wedding with a beautiful stewardess, by giving himself a score of very young concubines as if he were a Western socialist. It’s one of those things I say, but then never do. I haven’t touched my Parler account since August.
Firstly, because the alternatives to Google, Twitter, and others are technologically obnoxious and give one the feeling of voluntarily living in the Third World. And secondly, because getting a conservative man (therefore allergic to change) who has managed to figure out Twitter after quite a bit of effort to abandon the app and install a new one is more difficult than getting him to give you $20,000 in cash for, oh, I don’t know, the Anti-Pangolinophobia Association.
On the other hand, since most of them are social applications, it is not worth changing your network if no one else does it. A bit of defeatist realism: agreeing with three conservatives that they should go to the same application is, paraphrasing Jardiel Poncela, like trying to pin a butterfly with a telegraph pole. If there is one thing that distinguishes right-wing people, it is that they do not flock to places en masse at the pace of the latest trends. They have their own criteria.
Big Tech’s veto of Parler proves that being a millionaire is not incompatible with being a fool. Dividing the people you hate into 30 minority platforms is the golden dream of the Democrats. Why cover up the scattering? Such a slow exodus in various directions would weaken those with convictions and influence and discourage the lazy ones, myself included, who would end up returning to Dorsey’s den of Zen at Pyin Oo Lwin. The tactic was not invented by Zuckerberg but by Sun Tzu, a Chinese twitterer from the 22nd century before Twitter: “tire the enemies by keeping them busy and not letting them breathe.” Translated into modern English, it would be: “tire the enemies by sending them to Parler, Gab, and MeWe at the same time.”
But even if you think it’s a good idea for us conservatives to disperse to alternative platforms — that is, if you want to leave the field open to the left — where’s the fun in sharing social networks where everyone thinks the same? I’m not saying that I like to debate online with all kinds of haters. I find few things more tedious than a progressive trying to pick a fight over an article of mine through 5,000 mentions on Twitter. Dude, if I really wanted to start a discussion, instead of writing an article, I would have sent a damn voice message to the parent’s WhatsApp group from my kid’s school saying that the coronavirus doesn’t exist.
Instantly reaching a wide and diverse audience is one of the few pleasures of Twitter, which is ultimately the only place in the world where you can post a picture of your meal with the text “I cooked rice with chicken” — I tried it months ago — and instantly receive all kinds of messages: “What do I care, you idiot?,” “That’s not chicken, you fool,” “Because of you some chicken is crying inconsolably,” “That’s not rice, you fool,” “I wish I was the chicken in your rice!,” “You fascist bastard!,” “You chinophobe!,” “Fake news!,” and “That looks amazing! Will you marry me?” (followed by a bunch of emojis with hearts in their eyes).
Don’t tell me it’s not wonderful. Even the Buddhist censor might not be able to spoil it for us. That’s why I believe three things: that it’s better to stay, that we must fight, and that I may be wrong. Marcus Aurelius backs me up: “If any man despises me, that is his problem. My only concern is not doing or saying anything deserving of contempt.”
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website: www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau