Approval Economy

Someone finds something they love on the internet.  They want other people to see this wonderful thing that they love.  So they post it on a site like pintrest or tumblr or facebook.  In return for posting something that other people also like they get approval.  Hearts, or thumbs up, or stars… A way to track how many people approved of their posting.

Social Media is heavily driven by approval.  It taps into on the most fundamental human desires – a need for approval, for validation, for status.

We earn approval from other people’s work by posting some else’s creation.  Basically we violate copyright or at least get close to violating copyright on a mass basis constantly.

People who post a photo or a gif or whatever aren’t making money on it, but their use of it may have a negative impact on the market of the original work. Basically, they get approval that should ultimately belong to the creator.   But that approval has value.  Because we all seek it and it is one of major engines of the internet.

Ultimately, most social websites are media trading platforms where people get paid with approval status.  Many of them using some form of reblog feature to create a viral spread of the content.  So even if we never take someone else’s work and post it, we will often reblog a thing because we like it and because we want people to identify and validate us with this thing we like.  dragons, stock car races, classical music, etc.

We all do it. It’s how most of the internet works. Various websites earn money from our approval seeking behavior, so ultimately they make money from our posting of someone else’s work. There’s a lot of ethical implications of that ecosystem which pervades the internet.

I think the law is going to have to evolve a bit to adjust to the internet. There are so many subtle variations to how we slowly suck life out of makers by seeking approval for ourselves through their work. And that approval ultimately belongs to them, but they don’t get it. And in the internet world, approval has a value because we seek it.

It has monetary value because the act of giving approval is the act of seeing and those eyes will also see advertising content.  And there is the actual dollars that big media companies are siphoning off hundreds of thousands of creators all the time.

I think that approval has a value to be considered in some copyright case.  The way the internet works now, each individual creator has to track down each case of their work being used on a site like facebook and then go through a convoluted process requesting that it be removed.  It takes days to weeks.  In that period the website continues to earn money and the person who posted continues to earn approval.  All of it vampired off a maker who is quite probably drowning in these instances.

The internet has offered a great market for lots and lots of makers.  But it also exposed them to millions of vampires.


Depression is Not a Choice

This idiot.  This Egotistical Moronic Attention Whore wrote a whole pop psychology thread about how – depressed people just need to be happy and change.  Just do it.

Mr. I don’t have a degree in any field related to this but I kick box and have a large following so I MUST KNOW  SOMETHING, RIGHT?

You know what?  It’s not just him.  Tumblr had a whole month where they put non professionals into their Q & A to answer questions about mental health.

Because our culture views mental health as a thing anyone can advise anyone on.

Do you know why I don’t talk about my ongoing nightmare of mental illness in real life?  Because of this shit.  Because my illness would then be subject to everyone’s foolish and uneducated thoughts.  I would be branded as just too lazy to change.  Enjoying my sadness.  And just to blame for all of the nightmare that has been happening in my life for 10 years.

And you know what?  I DON’T NEED THAT SHIT.

And fuckwit up there, with his kickboxing degree is telling me that it’s all just fake.  That my life’s nightmare is all a big self inflicted hoax.


He will go though life feeling like he is MR. FUCKING INSPIRATION. When in fact he is a like a hideous cancer of insidious doubt and self hatred inflicted on people with depression.

Do you know why he did this?  FOR ATTENTION.  LOOK AT ME.  GIVE ME HEARTS AND RETWEETS.  LOOK AT ME.  He is an attention whore entirely oblivious to the attack he just launched inside minds of thousands of humans.

DEPRESSION IS NOT AN ILLNESS ABOUT SITUATION.  It’s a mental state that continues no matter how fucking good things are. The best that can be said is that you manage better in different situations.

But believe me, for no particular reasons, I will feel better one day than another.  I will plunge into an abyss for no particular reason.  No doubt my life can aggravate it, like a germ will infect a wound.  But the germ would have been harmless without the wound.

But no matter the situation, the depression remains.  It ebbs and flows but it’s still there. Always.  And probably forever.

Fuckwit Andrew is the pus from the crusty boil on the worlds asshole.  Others wished him some terrible karma for his wrongheadedness.  But I wouldn’t wish this mental state on Trump. But I do wish he would shut the fuck up.

I don’t mind if people are attention whores, but don’t destroy other people for attention.

The Civil War was about Slavery

I am just dumbfounded that I’m having this debate with people.

Apparently it’s a wide spread belief that it wasn’t about slavery.  Today it was someone on Twitter.

The other day it one of the young ones at work.  Hates Trump but was one of the not-a-racist but don’t spread hate people.  So naturally, I shared my thoughts.

In that conversation, he came to the civil war wasn’t about slavery because the emancipation proclamation didn’t happen before the war.

I’m not going to preach that the Union was filled with social justice warriors.  But I’m not going to back down from the reality – Slavery was the crux of the matter.  The push to end slavery caused the south to secede.

Just a taste of the primary document evidence

It was slavery.  The mechanism that many people use is “it was about state’s rights.”  Yeah.  It was about the state’s right to keep slavery legal.  The issue was not just some nebulous state rights vs Federal encroachment.  It was very specific to the slavery issue.  Calling it state’s rights is a careful misconstruction of the root cause.

I don’t even understand how we are debating this in 2017.  What I find interesting is that in debating it, there is a sense in which the person who insists it wasn’t about slavery is implicitly suggesting that slavery should have just kept going.

You MIGHT be able to convince me that in an alternate universe, Buchanan managed a compromise that led to the slow phase out of slavery.  But that is not how capitalism works in this universe.  Capitalism always leverages itself for money and easily reweaves it’s morality around acquiring and keeping more money.  And slavery was a money accumulator.  Even if you ignore the deep cost savings of near free labor, there was an entire economy around the slave trade.  Capitalism was the biggest chain around slavery and the only thing that was going to break that chain was a strong clear cut.

In any case, Buchanan did not achieve his compromise and Lincoln had no stomach for it and the South knew it.

S. C. Posey, Lauderdale County, Alabama, speaking to the Alabama Secession Convention on Jan. 25, 1861:  “Mr. President, the fierce strife we have had with the Northern States, which has led to the disruption of the Government, is a trumpet-tongued answer to this question.  They have declared, by the election of Lincoln, “There shall be no more slave territory–no more slave States.”

Southern states seceded because of the issue of slavery.  Their economy, their culture and their identity was deeply tied to the institution of slavery.  They were willing to fight to keep them.


It’s a concept that humans created. Deserve comes from the human need for justice, for reciprocity, for a clear line of choice.  It’s not inherent to the universe.  No one deserves anything in vast universe of things.

We are, we exist, we die. And all the parts of us, the little bitty parts that make us will just keep on going.  Atoms will make new bonds and reform into new things – without any recollection or emotional link to the person that is you.  Would the atoms that make you be more or less deserving than you are?

We want justice.  We want fairness. But the universe did not spawn in some giant balanced equality where all our efforts and all our character is weighed and a portion equal to some nebulous but personally experienced fair amount is meted out to each of us.  There is only time passing and entropy unfolding.  And none of it has any inherent reciprocity.  None of the atoms is deserving or not.  They exist but they don’t have a qualifying existence.

BUT.  Entropy and time did create, in this brief moment and space, humans.  And within those humans in a nearly universal instinct of fairness, justice and reciprocity.  This has been built into our social structures and we have written laws and courts to enforce them.  We also have unwritten but even more powerful rules.

And those unwritten rules are everywhere.  The sense that people deserve what they get is part of it.   Rules that define deserving.  Rules that defining the ways you earn what you deserve. Each of us weighing our lives and other people’s lives in some mental scale that has more emotional value than clarity of definition.

But those rules are all just made up.  They evolve with cultures and civilizations. Humans have an instinct for reciprocity and we project that instinct into this entirely imaginary idea of deserving.

If you dismantle the idea of people deserving things, you start to see how broken our cultures are.  How we use punishment in many overt and subtle ways to keep a hierarchy inside of our civilization.  To keep a few people at the top and the rest of us in a scaled ladder to the bottom.

We use the idea of deserving to keep people in poverty.

We use the idea of deserving to put people in jail instead of helping them change.

We use the idea of deserving to dole out food and shelter and medicine.

We use the idea of deserving every day. In our own lives. In our own choices.

We project this qualifier on every person we know.  And we weigh their worth.  A worth that is ENTIRELY imaginary.  And yet given power by universal acceptance.

Well. Hello.

It’s been awhile.

There’s definitely a layer of dust on this blog.


I write most of my thoughts on tumblr.  It’s my comfort zone.  I know a core group of there.  But I think the biggest reason I feel more comfortable over there is that the environment feels different.

Over here it feels like most of the folks I see are putting people in the sitting room and serving tea.

Few if any people are crying in pain from the various disasters that are drifting through their lives.  They are talking about the disaster in the past – ie it’s a thing I overcame.

No one is venting their anger at spouses.  They are telling humorous stories of spousal quirks.

People aren’t talking about how they can barely breathe from anxiety or how they can barely move from depression.  They talk about how they manage it.

Nothing about their addicted family member beating them.  They are talking about their kids or dogs.

Nothing about failing to pay bills.  They talk about it being tight and this is a great cheap meal.

No guilt about how selfish they feel for being angry at the person they are being caregiver to.  Just the martyred exhaustion of caretaking.

In tumblr, or at least in the group I follow, there is much more of a reality spread.  It’s not the sitting room.  It’s the family room that hasn’t been cleaned in 2 weeks.  People are talking about the stuff that is too ugly to say in real life.  Because it’s there and it’s hard and sometimes you need to say it.

Most of tumblr is a large visual reblog machine.  But there is a very small subset of people who have formed a community.  And it’s just people being real.  We talk about our lives and we scream about politics and we post kitten pictures and we spout our opinions or we share our interests.  Sometimes we bicker.  It’s friendship.

I think I stopped coming here because while I do post quite a bit of non-personal stuff on tumblr, it’s also where I share my dirty family room.   It feels like home.  People who have seen my life deteriorate and implode and slowly get built back up to this point and have never made me feel less than supported are there.

But it’s dying.  Fewer and fewer people go there.  And I need to find a new place for my family room.

I refuse to do Facebook.  I won’t show my family room to my real life friends and family.  I don’t trust them with it.   They can see a sitting room version of me.  And I really don’t care to invest the effort in constantly cleaning up the sitting room to show them.  My life is hard enough.  Having to construct a virtual sitting room for a constant stream of visitors is not where I want to waste my energy.

Perhaps, if I show my family room here it will be OK.  But it doesn’t feel like it will.  Possibly because you all didn’t watch the arc of turmoil that has been my life for the last 8 years.  But mostly because showing your family room to people who invite you into the sitting room feels awkward.

But maybe that’s just me projecting.  I have to find a new place for the Family Room.  Tumblr is dying.  And my need for a place to share remains.