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Have conservative groups mastered the art of internet activism?
Left-leaning groups don't seem to have made as full use of the internet as right-leaning ones. As one conservative put it, Paul Revere had a horse, but they have the internet.
JEN SCHRADIE: At the dawn of the internet, many believed that it would enable a more participatory, pluralist, and really personalized platform, particularly with politics. And it wasn't long before people were using terms like "Facebook revolution" and "Twitter revolution" to talk about how the internet could enable this more democratic way to participate in collective action. In my research, though, I wanted to, first of all, take a different tact than just looking at these very high profile movements, whether we're talking about the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, or more recently the Me Too movement, and really get a more general sense of what was happening on an everyday level.
I found a political issue that attracted groups on the left and the right, because at the time when I started the research in 2011, there were a lot of celebratory reports about very left-leaning movement. So I also wanted to look at conservative groups. And what I found was a very profound digital activism gap. Groups that were more middle to upper class, groups therefore with more resources, but also more organizational infrastructure, more hierarchy, were much more likely to be online. I also found that those groups tended to be more right-leaning or conservative. And it wasn't just these questions around resources and structure, it was also conservatives tended to have a more ideological inclination, more of a motivation to use the internet than groups on the left.
North Carolina really appealed to my methodological inclinations, to be quite honest, because it did really have this far left, far right, and really center political spectrum, Obama won the state in 2008 by a hair. He lost the state, also by a very small margin, in 2012. And this state was really hovering between left and right. So I decided to pick this issue around collective bargaining rights for public employees, because it did attract both these conservative groups, as well as these left-leaning groups. And as a result, I looked at about 34 different organizations that had been politically active on this issue. And they varied on the left side to support labor rights from labor unions, which you would expect, worker centers, but also civil rights groups, the North Carolina NAACP, a student group, and other groups, as well. Because this issue really operated more like a social movement than a traditional labor issue, largely because unions in North Carolina are extremely marginalized. At the time, it had the lowest rate of unionization in the country, and it still hovers at the bottom. But on the other hand, there were Tea Party groups, other patriot groups, like Preppers, and other conservative organizations which were very much opposed to any kind of union issue, especially around public employees. Because for conservatives, the whole idea of public employees really represented government, particularly, big government, which they were opposed to.
And what I found by looking at what -- not only how much they were engaged online, but what they were saying online, that conservatives were really focused on this question of freedom. And government got in the way of this quest for freedom. The internet, however, was an ideal vehicle for this idea of freedom. Freedom from the state, free markets, and for them, freedom of information, as well. Because they really believed that the mainstream media was not accurately covering their issues, or really covering their -- what they were doing with their activism on the right. And in fact, I think in many ways when we think about these so-called filter bubbles online, that they were right, that the left, as well as the mainstream media, really wasn't paying that much attention to what was going on with conservatives. So Trump's victory, I think, was a surprise to many. But as a scholar who had been studying what was going on on the grassroots level, as well as online, I was not as surprised. However, groups on the left, rather than focus on freedom, they were focused more on this question of fairness and around equity, labor rights, wages, et cetera.
Now, this question of fairness allowed for a wide variety of groups to be involved and engaged. As I mentioned, civil rights groups, labor groups, and also when they would post online, they didn't have as straight forward a message as groups on the right. So for them, that partially drove why they were not online as much, and why their messages didn't resonate and weren't retweeted and reposted as much, right? Because such a wide variety of issues, in general, among the left, whether it's LGBTQ issues, labor issues, civil rights issues, women's rights issues, voting rights, they really are a way that this idea of fairness could really be summed up. But wasn't this pithy, straightforward message around freedom that the right not only was retweeting comments or posts that they created, but also articles by conservative media, and also memes. Conservatives were really strong on visual posts, as well, which really worked very, very well. And so this informationalizing on the right compared to organizing on the left really helps explain this ideological gap that I found. People on the left were interested in the internet and definitely used it for their organizing. But even students, who you would think would be at the leading force of digital technology, just saw it as one of many organizing tools. That this particular student group was really interested -- it was horizontally run -- really interested in a wide variety of people participating. And for them, the internet wasn't necessarily a great way to have democratic decision-making and participation. It was one tool to help organize people. But it wasn't what one conservative activist told me, which is that for them, Paul Revere had a horse, but they had the internet.
- Initially, people saw the internet as a tool for driving more participatory, pluralistic, and personal discussions, especially around politics.
- However, with the exception of major movements like Occupy Wall Street, left-leaning groups haven't made as much use of the internet as right-leaning ones. In her research, Jen Schradie found that liberals see the internet as one tool of many to advocate for fairness; the trouble is, the idea of "fairness" brings together many disparate groups, making it difficult to present an organized, unified front, especially online.
- Conservatives see the internet as a vehicle for freedom — freedom from the state, free markets, and freedom of information. Conservatives made the internet their platform, where they could organize and discuss issues that they didn't believe were being represented in the media.
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Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.