As Parler faces a shutdown at midnight, let’s consider why the site exists in the first place.
About a year ago, when the fuss over Parler first began, I went to the site and set up an account. I spent about an hour on Parler before leaving, realizing that those sixty minutes of my life could never be recouped.
No, I wasn’t shocked. I was bored.
Parler is a lot like Twitter. It is filled with angry people posting their thoughts in short bursts. And, of course, “memes”.
This is what most social media involves, at a nuts-and-bolts level: watching and listening to anonymous strangers post and repost slogans and images that you’ve already seen a thousand times.
Parler, like Twitter, quickly becomes tedious. There is nothing particularly special about Parler. Why are so many Trump voters and conservatives talking about Parler now, then?
Because the left can’t stop talking about it, of course. It has become an obsession for them.
Journalists at CNN, MSNBC, and other, lesser known left-of-center media outlets have been having conniption fits about Parler. Parler, they tell us, must be controlled, rooted out, banned. Would someone please start a Committee of Public Safety to deal with this? That worked well during the French Revolution, after all.
Over the past few days, the Parler app has been banned from the app stores of Google and Apple. And now today’s development: Amazon has announced that it will remove Parler from Amazon Web Services, effective at midnight tonight.
The left’s anti-Parler hysteria suggests that Parler is the root of all disagreements between conservatives and leftists at present. Get rid of Parler, and everyone who believes that the Democratic Party is an irresponsible band of radicals will put away their Trump flags, and break out their COEXIST bumper stickers.
This is fatuous on at least two counts.
First of all, while tech companies might be able to ban the Parler app from their app stores, they can’t ban the website itself—not indefinitely. Despite today’s Amazon move, Parler will eventually find another hosting service—even if they have to use an offshore hosting service.
Banning the app from the major app stores doesn’t prevent users from accessing Parler on their phones, either. All modern cell phones have web browsers, after all.
All the public virtue-signaling furor over Parler does only one thing, really: It draws attention to a previously obscure social media site, and prods more conservatives and Trump fans to check it out.
This is Reverse Psychology 101. Or, as one atypically astute left-winger, George Lakoff, said in his book of the same title: “Don’t think of an elephant.” The meaning here is simple and intuitive: When explicitly told not to think of an elephant, an elephant will be the first thing that pops into most of our heads.
Another irony here is that Gab, Parler, BitChute, and other “conservative/alternative social media” sites never had to exist in the first place.
They certainly don’t exist for aesthetic reasons. Most of these alternative sites have clunky user interfaces. (BitChute is a particular grind to use.) Most conservatives, moreover, would much rather be on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Everybody on social media wants the largest possible audience, right?
Conservatives are only flocking to alternative social media sites because rabid Twitter mobs and sanctimonious tech bosses have spent the past decade relentlessly attacking, censoring, and banning any voice that dared disagree with progressive/leftwing narratives.
The relentless censorship campaign has not been merely an attempt to keep unpleasant topics or rude speech from social media. Rudeness and provocative speech are fine, so long as one is attacking Republicans or praising Black Lives Matter activists. Everyone—including honest folks on the left—recognizes that conservatives on social media are held to a much higher standard.
Basically, right-of-center/conservative voices are not wanted on social media at all, by either the Silicon Valley-based management of these sites, or by the twenty- and thirty-something user base that patrols these sites for any signs of a thoughtcrime.
And so, once again we see Reverse Psychology 101 at work. The long campaign to drive conservatives off the main social media sites has finally succeeded. But folks on the left have suddenly come to a realization: If conservatives are talking on Parler now instead of Twitter, the leftwing speech nannies can no longer monitor what conservatives are saying. Uh-oh! They didn’t think of that!
Ironically, many leftwing Twitter users are now setting up accounts of their own at Parler. They want to see content from the very same users whom they worked so hard to have purged from Twitter.
If this strikes you as absurd, you’re not alone.
So now they are trying to shut down all alternative social media sites. The left is going to find this to be one long game of whack-a-mole. Even if Parler is buried, another will arise in its place. And another. And yet another after that.
One of my former corporate bosses, when confronted by the company rumor mill, once said, “You cannot stop people from talking among themselves.” But in the hyper-controlling mental space inhabited by left-of-center Democrats, there really does seem to be a belief that it would be possible to stop people in a free society from talking among themselves, if enough websites are banned, and enough new speech codes are put in place.
Whatever happens to Parler after today, the spirit of resistance that drove its creation and growth over the last few years is unlikely to go away. Rather than all these shenanigans aimed at pulling the plug on Parler, the left might choose another, more effective tack: They might address the social media censorship that created the demand for Parler in the first place.
Like my former boss told me: You can’t stop people from talking among themselves. This is true even if your name is Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or Jeff Bezos.
Lee McCabe is on the run from the law, mafia hitmen, and rural meth dealers. A gun-blazing chase through the badlands of Kentucky. Preview it now.