[epistemic status: flying by the seat of my pants. Just wingin’ it.]
We’ve passed through another cycle of rationalist dialectics. Bashing the centre, what we call “liberals”, which also includes some people from the progressive centre-left and conservative centre-right, has been in vogue. The early signs of it started with Brexit. That’s when it was truly contrarian, and the last time it was original.
After Trump’s election, a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon. That’s when it was metacontrarian. You were neither a Clinton, Trump or Sanders supporter who didn’t register a prediction before the election and who followed along with all the polls, but right after you mention all your misgivings about everything the whole time. That’s jumping on a bandwagon if I’ve ever seen it. Well, we all did that at least a little bit. If you’ve been criticizing centrists for their naivete after the election. If it took you until the election to notice it, you were naive too. I know I was. C’mon, it’s okay to admit you were signaling if we all did it. I won’t tell Robin Hanson if you won’t.
Anyway, bashing centrists is now standard again. It’s filtered through Dank EA Memes now. It’s like, “haha, liberals want us to still take them seriously when they’re so out of touch!” is a meme. And it’s been a meme for months. It’s a tired meme. I’m pretty sure teenagers who don’t know what the Washington Post or the New York Times are are now mocking WaPo or NYT. Even calling out Vox for all its libsplaining is really old hat.
So if you want to look cool and edgy in Q2 of 2016 by having a hedgehox political prophecy before anyone else, we need to figure out the next metacontrarian position.
The next metacontrarian position isn’t about politics. It’s about journalism and the media. The standard position is hating the media, which is also the correct position. The contrarian position is being someone who feels like they need to get any decent news somewhere, because they’re worried under the Trump presidency for their well-being and need to know what might change, and NYT or WaPo are the place to get it. I heard somewhere paid subscriptions of those news publications and the Boston Globe have been way up since Trump’s election. For the record, I take no position on the legitimacy of NYT or the Boston Globe as a source of good journalism. WaPo threw Ed Snowden under the bus last year, so to Hell with them.
Anyway, the metacontrarian position on journalism in 2017 is:
journalism just is factionalized and partisan politics! Journalism is just about tribal fighting, and that the Fourth Estate no longer even exists…? Yeah, basically some position not lamenting the downfall of journalism, but some long-winded theory about how journalism fell decades ago and you’re only noticing it now because it was you, the news-reading public, who drove journalism downhill with your consumerist hunger for infotainment! Yeah, that sounds right. If you write something that reads like a LessWrong post, but can be reduced to “political theatre is written like a literal soap opera”, you’re pretty metacontrarian.
Now we just need some edgy up-and-coming blogger to write it up. No, it won’t be me. Even I don’t care that much about coming up with wacky inside views nobody else would see coming. At least for politics. I mean, people should be putting that effort into finding Cause X. Actually, we don’t actually use metacontrarianism to search for Cause X. We should try that. Like, just take two causes, and rationalize some wacky hybrid out of thin air like the two causes were two chunks of Play-doh. The results would be the Cronenbergs of cause prioritization.
Anyway, everyone on Rationalist Tumblr should write their crackpot theory about why journalism became so awful, and then we can adopt them to be cool and edgy again by fusing bullshit with other bullshit to make some extra-deluxe platinum-coated bullshit that still doesn’t match the map to the territory. One of you might also turn out right, so if you are, you can be the next Scott Adams, i.e., “Dilbert guy who called Trump a ‘wizard’ on his blog”.