Volume > Issue > ‘Tis Pity We’re All Whores

‘Tis Pity We’re All Whores

CULTURAL COUNTERPOINT

By Jason M. Morgan | July-August 2022
Jason M. Morgan, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, teaches history, language, and philosophy at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan. He is the author, most recently, of Law and Society in Imperial Japan: Suehiro Izutarō and the Search for Equity (Cambria Press, 2020).

Among conservatives, the talk of many towns has centered around Elon Musk’s hostile takeover of Twitter. “Freedom of speech is restored!” the chatter runs. “After years of the Left’s throttling public discourse, finally we will be able to speak our minds again. We tweet once more like free men!”

Alas, I cannot help but watch all this in sorrow. One leftist billionaire seizes the levers from another leftist billionaire, and American conservatives think this is very good news. The fact that we had to wait for a South African master to buy us out from our American master and ostensibly restore our First Amendment “freedom” is a depressing commentary on contemporary society. The fact that we are giddy about it is sadder still. If we believe in natural rights, then why do we let this unnatural situation constrain us?

Americans never used to put their freedoms in the hands of oligarchs for safekeeping. This suggests that the bigger problem is not political but cultural — as in, what the Internet has done to us. Like drug addicts, we have given ourselves over almost entirely to mega social-media sites. And no, it doesn’t matter who owns which one. The Internet itself is the problem, and there can be no freedom in any life (really, no life at all) lived online.

No, it’s not quite an addiction. It’s more like an abusive relationship. Or worse, a chronically abusive relationship, one that has so degraded us that we no longer see how we are being used. To wit, we think we glimpse liberty in Musk’s acquisition when all we are doing, to put it bluntly, is switching pimps.

You see, social media is like the red-light district of Amsterdam. Everyone is standing in their own little doorway, trying to lure customers inside. Everyone is turning tricks. Everyone is trying to get their numbers up. But who really profits?

We’ve forgotten that free people do not cheer the replacing of one master with another. A new online pimp is poised to parcel out our “free speech,” and we are so far gone that we think we are the ones coming out ahead in the bargain. We aren’t free. We’re hookers, and we’re hooked.

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