Home-Free on Facebook? Think Again

Ilana Mercer, July 29, 2011

When free-market economists say markets don’t discriminate, they are only partially right.

“Rational self-interest does indeed propel people, however prejudiced, to set aside bias and put their scarce resources to the best use. But, as I argue in my new book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” to state simply that “‘discrimination is bad for business’ is to present an incomplete picture”: “The market, by which we mean the trillions of capitalist acts between consenting adults, is discriminating as in discerning—it is biased toward productivity. Hiring people on the basis of criteria other than productivity will eventually hurt the proprietor’s pocket. Thus, we can be fairly certain that, say, absent affirmative-action laws, the market would reflect a bias toward productivity. In other words, what the good economists are often loath to let on is that a free market is a market in which groups and individuals are differently represented.” (Page 127.)

Parity in prosperity and performance between all players can be achieved only when someone plays socialist leveler. And, it is not always the State. Read on.Built into all markets are certain biases.

To optimize their outcomes, operators within these many markets screen for certain select characteristics. If these actors are recruiting Angels for Victoria’s Secret, a perfect 10 is required.

Consider your Facebook universe. My own is geared toward gathering as many potential converts to a certain set of ideas as the forum will allow. In the process, each potential friend’s value system is checked—not his skin color, country of origin or religion. I’ll briefly browse the petitioner’s biographical Information to determine the degree to which his or her political philosophy approximates my own. Or, alternatively, how likely he or she is to be curious about ideas other than his own.

A potential Facebook friend’s page could be in French or Polish, but if it sports icons of Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Frederick Bastiat, Lysander Spooner, Ron Paul, Henry Hazlitt, Walter Williams—libertarian heroes all—then he’s a fit for me. The “libertarian” handle will almost always prompt a click to “Accept Friendship.”

A “Respond to Friend Request” has just popped up on my screen. Not a thing do I know about the middle-aged man who stares back at me from the pixelated page—other than that, under “Activities and Interests,” he lists Peter Schiff, Ron Paul 2012, Campaign for Liberty, S. 604: Federal Reserve Sunshine Act of 2009, Thomas E. Woods Jr., Lew Rockwell.

In sum, he’s a friend.

In the process of refining this friendly agora of ideas, you discover other characteristics that serve as surrogates for the qualities you’re seeking in Facebook friends. Born-again Christians, Catholic conservatives, and Glenn-Beck or Jesse Ventura conspirators—all are more inclined to like liberty than liberals. The other day, I found myself turning away the well-populated Facebook presence of an anti-hate speech activist. Probably liberal or neoconservative. Wall posts agitating for the regulation or banning of speech are not for me.

Earlier this year, which is when I joined Facebook, I was befriended by a fellow who flooded my Newsfeed with odes to George Bush (whose wars I have spent close on a decade prosecuting on WND’s “Return to Reason” column). A Facebook Wall is a fraternity, not a war zone. That fellow was dropped. For me, Facebook is an informal marketplace of ideas.

Although I develop my social network by screening individuals for compatible values—not for race or religion—nevertheless, a profile of a Mercer Facebook friend has emerged, and he is mostly, but not always, a white male. Mercer is not biased; libertarianism is. To women and minorities (overlap considered), libertarianism is not that attractive. My Facebook market is biased toward libertarianism, a category which further filters out a lot of women, for example.

This Facebook example is innocuous. However, certain habitual social meddlers have tried to imply that the forum is racist. In particular, a public-spirited ditz named Danah Boyd, who is “Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, and a Research Associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.”

A while back, Boyd was given a significant cameo on CNN to discuss a deeply silly “research” paper she had slapped together. Cloaked in the raiment of “research,” Boyd’s narrative is titled “White Flight in Networked Publics: How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook.” Sic and sic again: Yes, not even Microsoft’s woefully inadequate grammar and syntax checks have caught up with such linguistic infelicities.

Boyd’s infantile efforts were published by Routledge in the Digital Race Anthology. The banal Ms. Boyd claims to have smashed our “techno—utopian belief” that the internet has eradicated undesirable divisions. All this was accomplishes not with evidence of rank racism, but with a smashing postmodern word salad—”spatial referents,” “taste markers,” “reproduction of social categories,” on and on.

The “findings” in plain English: Caucasian teens were more likely to congregate on Facebook than on MySpace. Naively, the teens told Boyd (or her proxies) that the former matched their values—esthetic and courting style—more than the latter. For fleeing the “digital ghetto” (MySpace) to gentrified cyberspace (Facebook), our internet police girl framed these white teens as racists.

Just as you thought you were home free on Facebook to associate and dissociate at will, some intellectually compromised, corporately controlled control freak moves in to shape cyberspace in politically pleasing ways. I am now convinced that American society will collapse upon itself like a black hole under the weight of a young (mostly WASP), idiocracy rising, in the mold of Boyd.

I mean, who would hire Danah Boyd, much less befriend a person with her set of skills?!

July 29

CATEGORIES: Affirmative action, Free speech, Individual rights, Left-liberalism, Propaganda, Property Rights, Racial issues, Technology