Spengler

The Digital Revolution Eats Its Children

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

It can’t be a coincidence that Facebook’s empire of evil shut down today, the day before whistleblower Frances Haugen will testify before the consumer protection subcommittee of Senate Commerce. Seven hours after Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram disappeared into the cybersphere Gehenna, the system remained offline. Reuters reported late Monday that “sabotage by an insider would be theoretically possible,” and my Twitter feed is full of speculation about an inside job.

There are some things that even the Wokies can’t stomach. The butchery of the souls of young people is one of them. Leave aside Facebook’s totalitarian manipulation of content on behalf of the liberal elite: Its most egregious crime is the mass manipulation of pre-teens and teenagers through the self-image terrorism of Instagram. Ms. Haugen provided massive documentation to the media that Facebook knows in depth what damage it has done to the mental health of young women (as well as young men), as the Wall Street Journal reported:

The Journal’s series, based in part on the documents she gathered as well as interviews with current and former employees, describes how the company’s rules favor elites; how its algorithms foster discord; and how drug cartels and human traffickers use its services openly. An article about Instagram’s effects on teenage girls’ mental health was the impetus for a Senate subcommittee hearing last week in which lawmakers described the disclosures as a “bombshell.”

As the Journal summarized Ms. Haugen’s evidence:

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.

For the past four years, University of California psychologist Jean Twenge has assembled and presented massive documentation that social media has put a whole generation aged 10 to 18 years “on the brink of a mental health crisis.” What Dr. Twenge calls “Igen” is fearful, anxious, risk-averse, asexual, and far more prone to depression and suicide than any of its predecessors.

Thanks to Ms. Haugen, we know that Facebook knew all of this from its own internal studies and continued to wreak mischief on a mass scale with malice aforethought.

Ms. Haugen, for her part, is as Woke as one can get. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Ms. Haugen was born and raised in Iowa, the daughter of a doctor father and a mother who left behind an academic career to become an Episcopal priest. She said that she prides herself on being a rule-follower. For the last four Burning Man celebrations, the annual desert festival popular with the Bay Area tech and art scene, she served as a ranger, mediating disputes and enforcing the community’s safety-focused code.”

She had her limits, though, and used her business skills, cunning, and ingenuity to denude Facebook of its benign public image. Perhaps some of her colleagues have thrown gasoline on the fire by taking the behemoth offline.

As  Joshua Mitchell and Joseph Bottum explain in somewhat different ways, the Woke phenomenon is a form of Christian heresy, a manifestation of the old American Puritanism transmuted into secular categories of sin, virtue and repentance. However destructive the Woke movement might be, it is uniquely American in character, and Christian in sensibility. There is a limit to the amount of harm that the Woke employees of Big Tech are willing to inflict in the interest of elevated equity valuations. It’s one thing to censor Donald Trump and his supporters, another to destroy the lives of millions of young people.

The Revolution is eating its children. Mark Zuckerberg, who claimed that Facebook would bring the world together, goes to the scaffold the way that Citizen Robespierre, the apostle of public virtue, led the revolutionary Danton to the guillotine. America is still America, however far we have strayed from the ideas of the Founding, and there is something in Americans that revolts against hypocrisy and abuse of the public trust.