Welcome to the Angel Season One Speed Run, a side quest that I have to complete before I can finish walking through Buffy with my girlfriend, who’s seen it all (we left off at s05). Time for s01e09, “Hero.”
- I have to admit this commercial idea of Cordelia’s is kind of great. The actual commercial not so much, but what are you gonna do.
- Way to go Angel for giving a short and surprisingly good synopsis of the events from last episode! See, you can use your words when the need arises.
- This show is really trying to expand on demon culture, isn’t it? Demon society? Or the fact that there are apparently a shitload of ‘em? Including these, who look vaguely Cardassian?
- Shouldn’t demons of all varieties have powers of some kind? Something they can do that makes them more than human? Otherwise, what’s the point? Seems like these gray guys are only good at running from or being killed by the Scourge.
- BTW, the makeup department clearly has a bigger budget, because these Scourge guys are nasty. Balls nasty.
- Whoa, wait. Wait. Did … did that just happen? Doyle! Huh. I would not have called that.
And s01e10, “Parting Gifts,” because why not:
- Still sort of in shock that they got rid of Doyle, not that he was a favorite or anything, it’s just a very unexpected move. I’m glad they’re not letting the oracles be the cosmic reset button. Also, the lady oracle: still foine. I do not apologize to you or any other.
- Aww, Cordelia’s mourning process is oh daaaaamn, now she gets the visions! Tidy.
- Oh shit, it’s New Watcher! Who I guess I should just call Wesley from here on out.
- Hahahahahaha Wesley, nobody buys your badass act, buddy.
- You know, I’m actually kind of tired of “good demon” stories, so I’m glad for this mid-episode twist where the empath turns out to be the asshole.
- Hey, it’s that evil law firm again! Good to know who the big bad is gonna be this season.
Ever seen Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? Forget about it. Marketers still learn it in school, but psychologists left it behind a long time ago.
There are 14 things that humans will always be motivated to gain or protect: Avoiding death, avoiding pain, air, water, food, homeostasis (bodily functions), sleep, sex, love, protection of children, status, affiliation, justice, and understanding each of those things better.
All of those things will have an audience — and trigger emotional responses to different degrees — but on the internet, Status, Affiliation, Justice, & Understanding are particularly useful because they are just ideas. They are also unlimited, and you can create them from scratch, for free."
Read this, including the link in the first tweet, and then come back. I’ll wait.
I want to help, I really do, but I’m noticing something:
- I don’t know any of these misogynist assholes
- I don’t hang out with them personally
- I don’t see them in my social feeds
Which conversely means the impact I have on them personally seems minimal. It’s not that they’re not listening to me — they’re not even aware of me. So right now I’m preaching to the choir. Which I’m told has some value, in that at least I’m not saying nothing to no one (and it’s not like I’m going to stop), but still. And even if more people like me got together to shout the assholes down, I don’t know how much good it would do. I feel like Eomer riding around on the Wold with his éored before meeting Aragorn — all dressed up and nobody to fight but a paltry few orcs, while the armies of Isengard and Mordor gather their strength far away.
Here’s what I wish I could actually do: it’s a two-part daydream.
Part 1. Essentially de-anonymize the internet for assholes.
Since I’m in daydream country, here’s what that would look like:
- Make a software tool that finds racist or misogynist tweets, especially threatening ones.
- When it finds one, it saves the text of the tweet, takes a screenshot, and grabs the user’s publicly-available profile info, which includes their name.
- It then puts all this stuff in a vault with an easily-searchable online frontend.
Let’s call this tool/site OnBlast.
Part 2. Install a culture-wide social norm that causes people to check OnBlast before going on an online date, making a hiring decision, or during employee reviews. “Kevin, we found you on OnBlast: please explain these tweets you made to Anita Sarkeesian on August 26.”
- Action: you say something racist or misogynist and threatening
- Punishment: you are now unemployable as a result
- This relies on the assumption that saying heinous shit on the internet would render you out of a job, which is probably not true in 100% of cases, but still.
- Is it a complete solution? No.
- Would it help? At the very least it should disincentivize asshole behavior on Twitter, I’d hope.
- What about false positives? People just joking or being ironic? My dreamworld version of OnBlast somehow filters all that shit out; wizards do it.
- Wouldn’t assholes just find somewhere else less public to be terrible? A cloistered subreddit, a forum just for MRAs? In my dreamworld I see OnBlast 2.0 hooked up to a magical AI capable of infiltrating such places and connecting user handles to real names using simple internet detective work, but even that’s something that could be done right now with human labor — it’d be expensive and time-consuming, yes, but not impossible.
- Is it a dangerous step towards an Orwellian nightmare surveillance state? Probably, yeah — it’s fine for exposing assholes, but put it in the hands of someone less discerning and OnBlast could be tuned to look for, say, political dissidents instead of racists, and then you’d be in some shit depending on what country you lived in.
But I don’t want to let a slippery-slope tangent derail me from my actual point, which is this: part 1 is technically feasible. A software engineer could start work on it tomorrow. The only hard part is identifying the racist or misogynist content and filtering out the false positives, but that’s an issue for natural language processing or even some kind of brute-force crowdsource-style mechanical Turk approach. The point is, it’s an engineering problem. Someone could build part 1. I would build part 1 if I had the know-how, time, and money.
Let’s be clear: I don’t know if it would be a complete solution or even the right solution, and implementing part 2 wouldn’t be possible for one person (me) to do. But at least part 1 would be in place, and maybe we’d be one step closer on the path to a world where this shit didn’t happen anymore. No? Maybe I’m crazy. Is this a reasonable thing to want to do, or have I exposed some kind of inner panopticon-tyrant in the making?