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folk: *massively inconvenience themselves by trying to avoid buying things through amazon*

same folk, after a classmate suggests they use google docs for notes, despite knowing that cryptpad exists: "sure!"

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There's so many nuances to like, blaming yourself about these big systemic problems, but gosh do folk seem real keen to do it only when it hurts /just/ them, and will stop it entirely with a smile if it might inconvenience someone /else/.

Something something puritan roots.

Like if you will pay $12 more for shipping for a thing, you should be willing to say "nah let's use <x>" when folk suggest you use collaborative software.

(Again, assuming you know such software exists.)

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@emsenn I'm not sure if I'm following the reasoning here; are you saying that the network effects of a zero-cost product should specifically be prioritized over actual giving real money directly to terrible people, specifically because network effects are powerful? or that they are both equally important?

@technomancy hmm. Neither. If you're willing to avoid giving money to terrible people, even if it causes you Great inconvenience, then you should be willing to say a sentence to advocate avoiding being dependent on terrible people, even if it causes you Slight social embarrassment

@emsenn the person I was ten yearn ago would have enthusiastically boosted this. but that person was an intolerably smug jerk, and I'm very glad I'm no longer that person. (please don't take this as a personal attack; I don't see you this way)

given that I am still today dealing with the fallout of my actions back then and the damage caused by my unearned sense of superiority, I have a hard time classifying all such reluctance as trivial social embarrassment.

@technomancy I hear and I think understand what you're saying, but I mean Great and Slight, in the opinion of the person taking the actions, not me, the outside judge. I'm going to generalize, watch out:

There are lots of people who will happily speak up against a friend's suggestion they order food from that friend's favorite restaurant, because they're craving something else.

Lots of those people also feel deeply against Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc., and will, begrudgingly, work around having to use them, even as it sometimes really inconveniences them.

Some of those people will even choose not to watch their favorite TV shows and movies because they're uncomfortable supporting the streaming service, but also uncomfortable pirating! Ouch!

Some of those people...

...won't say anything at all when a friend suggests Zoom for a friendly chat, even though the friend likely cares a lot less about Zoom than their favorite restaurant.

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There's this weird allegiance to - as I discuss in other replies to this - maintaining Civilization, that people hold as an unspoken priority, and that will cause what would otherwise be "trivial social embarassments" to be absolutely unthinkable.

The embarassment that's felt /isn't/ trivial, you're right, and that's exactly the point: there's this big Thing in our conversation that we aren't talking about, but is clearly having an effect. It's dark matter to communication, and unless we account for it's drift, just like light, we're not going to be able to maintain our own direction as we try and interact with others in the world.

@technomancy

*reads back, jotting notes "Civilization is the dark matter of communication, yes yes"*

@technomancy Also reading this back I guess I don't readdress my original scoping of "Great" and "Slight" as they would be without Etiquette or whatever's infleunce.

@emsenn I see; I think you and I are talking about different contexts.

to me when I read this it reminded me of the very same conversation we had last week around working with mutual aid groups and suppressing your natural instinct to tell them what software to use in favor of just shutting up and putting food in boxes until you have spent enough time in the group to understand the problems.

if we take the same conversation and place it in the context of two pals who go way back, or two peers who have an equal understanding of the problem at hand, then it's easier to see the post as I think you originally intended it.

@technomancy Yea reading back on what i've said here, what I'm saying is not what my first posts convey, but, that's what conversation does!

Regarding the other conversation, I think there's a big difference in the two situations: in the Zoom call, you're being requested to be an active participant in a thing. Yes it'd be shitty to sign up for some anarchist lecture on Zoom and then email the people to be like WAIT use this!

But if your coworker or friend or whatever asks you to use Zoom?

Nah fuck that that's like, inside your borders as a person and you can say fuck that.

@emsenn The amazon ecosystem is really hard to avoid, actually. That's, of course, the nature of monopsonies ("ok, I'll buy books from abebooks instead" - but they're a subsidiary of amazon...)

The google docs issue is something I wrestle with myself. How much can I push people away from these sorts of platforms? And how to do so?

@emacsomancer

I think it's a matter of clarifying priorities:

If not using Google Docs is a priority, that means that avoiding it comes before other stuff.

That might mean that you need to de-prioritize your professionalism or politeness, so you can say "No, I won't use Google Docs, we need to use Cryptpad or something."

@emsenn There's a whole bundle of issues. How many proprietary and potential harmful platforms can I refuse to use for collaboration before people just start to dismiss any objection I might have to a platform?

The other, related one: is not using Google Docs the hill I want to die on? For me, there's so many worse things I'm currently being strong-armed into using, because of official university policies/technologies.

E.g. Zoom is the official thing we're supposed to use for video communications. I still don't know exactly how bad that is - I mean, at least it's not Skype.

Worse, all of our university email is on Outlook Servers and the IT depts are making it increasingly difficult to avoid that in any way - though for the most part (as much as I can) I use a different email for university things (mailbox.org).

And the Outlook thing isn't just a vague theoretical threat. I mean, it's a Microsoft product. Microsoft who loves collaborating with US secret agencies and other 'weaponised' arms of the government. Like their contract with ICE. We have students who are, or who have family members who are, at risk for deportation - and this is the communication system we use for confidential matters?

@emacsomancer But those are systemic issues that you cannot, reasonably, say "no" to an individual about.

However if a colleague directly asks you for a Zoom call, you /can/ say no and it doesn't affect the system.

@emsenn That's true, at least to an extent. But since I'm part of the hierarchy system in question (universities are very feudal in their organisation) and am in a relatively safe position (if not one of great power), I'd actually like to try to exert as much pressure as possible to change the systemic things in the university - that has a lot more impact than whether I do Zoom chats with colleagues or not.

@emacsomancer In my limited experience with institutions, getting the Chancellor to use Jitsi the one time they're in a meeting you organized and then opening with an acknowlegement of why you've chosen these tools, will do more than a direct petition.

If you've got the access to petition, you've got the access to schmooze, and that's where your power is.

@emacsomancer Alternatively: domainbuilding: establish your own micro-institution within yours that has clear borders and clearly distinct rules of engagement.

Those beneath you must acquiesce due to your power over them, those above you might acquiesce to maintain the bureaucracy.

@emsenn That's part of what I've been thinking. I'm pretty minor in the scheme of things: even my department chair is really only the equivalent of a minor baron, and I suppose I'm something like a (recently) landed knight. But e.g. wherever possible I'm refusing to use Outlook mail in communications.

@emacsomancer I think there's more power there than might be immediately recognizeable; I'd encourage reading Of Flying Cars if you haven't within the past few weeks, but: yes, perhaps it might be appropriate to see yourself as a recently landed minor aristocrat, off in some rural place.

(not sarcasm, you'll see what i mean if you read the piece)

@emsenn I haven't read that - I'll have a look!

(and it's really hard for me to think of much better analogues for universities administrative hierarchies than the feudal model - so I make the comparisons in earnest)

@emacsomancer Omg please read Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit by David Graeber just as soon as you can <3

@emsenn A great read. I've read 'bits' of it before, cited elsewhere, but great to read the whole thing. What he says about academia (as well as about everything else) matches my experience.

@emacsomancer I don't know if you'd've seen, but Graeber passed away last week or maybe the week before, so I've been rereading lots of his stuff, and it's been weird to read stuff like this concurrent with working on literally just a virtual reality.

(note: i view graeber's views of our civilization's failure being primarily caused by greed as a misattribution; I'd say it's caused by a delusion of godliness.

@emsenn I did see that he died in the past couple of weeks.

(delusions of godliness surely are there, but it's hard to discount basic (and base) greed in terms of root causes)

@emacsomancer greed is to accumulate power, but what's the use of that power?

I doubt folk would work so hard for it if there weren't something to be gained, and I don't think "material survival" explains it.

@emsenn I agree that "material survival" isn't the explanation, but mindless greed seems like a big factor to me (and I also doubt the "work so hard" bit)

@emacsomancer If you doubt "work so hard" then you don't appreciate the work of maintaining being civilized the way I do: it's a /lot/ of work that fills up more than your whole day, and it doesn't make you wealthy: it gives you a sense of control.

@emsenn Maybe we're talking about different things. I doubt Bill Gates has worked hard. He may have lots of things that he does in a day, but that's not at all the same thing.

@emacsomancer I think we are. Bill Gates has to be /so/ careful and put so much /thought/ into what world exists around him, everything has to perfectly adhere to the metaphor.

It's not physical labor, but it is a /tremendous/ mental load, an over-burdening that makes it nearly impossible to think about anything, because you have to do so much work to worship the metaphor.

For a lot of "normal" a lot of that "work" takes an odd form: the pursuit of happiness, in a basic sense. it's a /lot/ of work to maintain the metaphor, so you can instead work to burn out your senses completely and just keep yourself... busy with nonsense. But it's work to keep yourself saturated with nonsense! But it's not like you can do real work after a day spent serving the kyriarchy.

Either you're rich and trapped into maintaining the metaphor or else your sense of self is damaged and you develop mental health problems, or you're a working collaborator and you're too exhausted by collaboration to do anything but shore up the metaphor or else your sense of self is damaged and...

Either way, it's a /lot/ of work, that never stops.

Whereas like, the "hard physical labor" notion of work in a vacuum is, by contrast, so easy! Leaves you mentally free to like actually think about what you're doing, :o

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@emsenn This is a good idea. Though I'm not usually organising meeting with people of higher ranks. But something to keep in mind in case such possibilities do arise.

@emacsomancer Like you're right, it is a balancing act: your refusal to collaborate in one aspect may remove your ability to resist in others.

Which is why it's important to have honest discussions with yourself and your community, so you can have some knowledge of whether you're making the right calls:

Are you honestly cooperating to maintain an ability to resist? Is the resistance more sabotage than your cooperation is assistance?

What about the people affected: is it even your decision whether it's acceptable for you to use an Amazon doorbell, if it's not you who risks deportation if one captures you?

Of course... is it /their/ decision how much you risk your survival?

Again, these are all just questoins that I think can only be answered by hard honest conversations about the specifics.

But too often we aren't even willing to broach the conversation, because we're still prioritizing "friendliness" or whatever over not being evil, no matter how hard.

(Sorry for the ramble)

@emsenn Thanks for the ramble - it's helpful to be about to talk these things out a bit.

The "friendliness" issue is a real one. And this is, I think, a major systemic issue in at least current Western society: how much value lots of people place on even very obviously only surface-deep politeness and norms (e.g. it's okay to condemn people to conditions amounting to misery or death as long as you grimace and wring your hands enough while doing so).

@emacsomancer So being candid my partner and I are having a bit of a discussion about this today too, but:

Yea, it is a big problem, and it's how y'all keep the cop in your head alive:

Heading into any conversation there is an absolute priority on maintaining the unspoken assumptions of Civilization, and /nothing/ can be said to broach that.

It's up to those of us willing to force the abandonment of that pretense, if only for some of the conversations we're in, where it really matters.

@emacsomancer As you say, sure, these days there's a requisite amount of self-flagellation, but it's still a superficial apology for "we must keep this myth alive with our every breath"

And keeping it secret and painful and guilty?

Well, Catholicism has deep roots.

@emsenn I fully agree. It's working out the strategies on how to most effectively do so that's the tricky bit.

@emacsomancer *nod* My main advice rn is "make sure that it's a priority so that the next the an opportunity comes up you at least spot it. it'll probably take months of that before you're ready to actually react to the opportunity."

But with politeness as paramount, I think it's impossible to honestly spot those opportunities.

@emacsomancer an example for me is how it took me a while to even see that people were asking me, in small ways, to validate "property rights" and even longer to get comfortable going "Oh sorry, I don't believe in that sort of magic" to people who say I'm trespassing.

Obviously a severe example because like I'm saying "I don't believe in magic" to a person with a shotgun who thinks said magic entitles them to shoot me, but, an example, lol.

@emsenn a tangent, but since you brought up 'property rights' I ended up listening to a really interesting podcast interview (on abebooks' "Behind the Bookshelves" podcast, to bring things back round to the Amazon thing....) with Nick Hayes about his "Book of Trespass" - about trespassing on big estates in England (with subsidiary discussion about trespassing in the US & Australia and questions about 'land rights' of indigenous peoples) - I think I mentioned it on the fediverse at some point.

https://player.fm/series/behind-the-bookshelves/book-of-trespass
@emsenn I think that's really good advice. Actually keeping these things in mind and making use of opportunities (and not just going along with the expectations) is both not easy to do and very easy to overlook.
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