And now I’m on Minds.

A few months ago, I quietly added my blog’s updates to Minds.com, my first real serious foray into alternative tech.  I’m still not sure I’ve bought into the general political tone and tenor of the site, but I certainly recognize the need to diversify across platforms.  And I’ve made reference at least once to clear evidence of benevolent intervention from The Good Censor—specifically in an article I wrote criticizing land use policy in Mendocino, California, a wealthy distant bedroom community from the San Francisco Bay Area.  It was very clear that the powers-that-be in Silicon Valley did not want me criticizing the NIMBYist policies that artificially restricted housing supply in Mendocino, thereby keeping the village tiny, unaffordable, and elitist.

More recently, the interference was milder but still noticeable: Facebook restricted me from boosting a post on controversial swimwear that fails to replicate the American flag.  It generated a mildly elevated discourse in which the users themselves chose to withdraw and erase much of their conversation, which might have been what prompted Big Tech to run interference for the article in particular.  I’m not necessarily asserting that my blog is a subject in various Silicon Valley boardrooms—I wouldn’t pretend to be that important—but most likely the bots are trained to look for certain keywords and have decided that I use enough of them that my site is, at least on certain occasions, “problematic” in their eyes.  Therefore I’ve turned to Minds, which uses as its primary avatar a lightbulb like the one below, which users can now see when they scroll down to the bottom of the American Dirt homepage.

Use of Minds (Minds.com) to promote the blog

Minds is not a particularly new site.  A group of techies founded it in 2011 as a direct response to those who deemed Facebook’s practice of spying and data mining to be intrusive.  For at least five years it sat relatively dormant, but has exploded in popularity in the last half decade as Big Tech expands its reach and behaves less like a neutral platform and, to the extent legally permissible, more like like a publisher.  I’ve never kept a strong social media presence: I don’t really use Facebook or (more recently) Instagram for anything more than promoting American Dirt, and my presence on Minds serves the exact same purpose.  So far, the traffic to my site via Minds has been minimal.  But it isn’t contracting.  And Minds offers far more opportunities for the deployment of cryptocurrency to finance channels within the site—something I may consider if its influence grows, which I expect will happen.  (Also not that I am not promoting this article on Facebook or Instagram.) In due time, I expect to expand my alt-tech reach well beyond Minds, perhaps into one of the alternative publishing sites (Substack, Rokfin). But I will never ever use the ones exclusively devoted to promulgating my passing thoughts for broader public consumption/validation—the sites like Twitter (or its alt-tech counterparts Parler and Gab)—which to me continue to help escalate the moral absolutism and narcissism that so frequently plagues online discourse.  Better to keep my footprint small through minimal social media than to get ensnared in that web.  In the meantime, feel free to check out my presence on Minds.  It’ll probably seem very familiar.  Thanks as always for your support!

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7 thoughts on “And now I’m on Minds.

  1. Brian M

    Congrats on the new site!

    Mendocino is in the news again. They are now having to truck in water. Which leads me to a broader question. I disagree with the NIMBYs strongly in concept, but I am increasingly wondering if the idea of encouraging/facilitating/or even enabling population growth in California is a good idea? Water shortages are not going away. Temperatures are rising. Massive fires every year The Big One is perhaps overdue. As a matter of long term policy, is it a good idea to encourage population growth in California? I am pro-development as any guy, but still…I wonder. The only eternal growth is cancer.

    Reply
    1. Chris B

      Local zoning authorities could require developers to demonstrate the purchase of senior water rights for a sufficient amount of water to serve the new residences before allowing a new development.

      Local water authorities could also do as Las Vegas did and prohibit new grass lawns AND launch a fund to buy out existing lawns and landscape that require watering…i.e. front lawns of rocks and sage. Or Astroturf.

      Or plumb houses to capture grey water (sinks and laundries) for secondary use in irrigation.

      Reply
      1. Brian M

        My County actually does that (subsidizes the removal of grass lawns). My friends got several hundred dollars for pulling out their lawn. The new native plantings look much better than a struggling patch of grass anyway.

        My other issues remain, though. I am skeptical about the senior water rights idea. It won’t work in the end during serious long term drought. California is already much more efficient water-wise than most of the U.S. I was shocked, though, the other wee when I was cruising through the heart of Silicon Valley one Sunday, There is a vast office “park” called Redwood Shores (Oracle has its primo office space there), and our Lords and Masters of the Information Age don’t seem to care about the drought. Acres and acres of brilliant green lawn, irrigated by vast and wasteful sprinklers. It was amazing. Makes the idea of skipping a shower seem pointless.

        Reply
        1. AmericanDirt Post author

          Hi Brian, I’m always torn on how to react to these predicaments. Having spent my early formative years after planning school in New Orleans, a city that has suffered the opposite problem of California and is only getting worse–water is overabundant and encroaching–it’s hard to be able to accrue the necessary circumspection to form good judgments. New Orleans was a brilliant location for a port when Bienville settled there 300 years ago. It continued to remain brilliant for a good two centuries; otherwise, it wouldn’t have grown to the largest city in the South, a position it held up until the early 1900s.

          Needless to say, my Mendocino example primarily intended to expose the disingenuousness of the enviro-NIMBYs that are seriously curtailing the viability of living in California, not helped but the ever-growing environmental pressures to which the state’s high housing costs can only slightly abate. The situations in California demand a solution, and it leaves me embracing a sort of paradox: we can always count on human ingenuity to develop an innovation that mitigates or even completely resolves a wicked problem, just as we can also count on human imperfectability to create a greater problem through the aforementioned innovation. The attitude in southern Louisiana (amplified during peak hurricane season, which begins Monday) is, “No part of the country is without its natural setbacks. If not hurricanes, we could face earthquakes, tornadoes, or wildfires.” This statement of resignation is an unpleasant truth that also belies a complacency. California faces a multifaceted assault from wildfires induced in part by a changing climate, in another part from irresponsible forestry practices, and no doubt at least a few nasty ones coming from sociopaths like Prof. Gary Maynard. Lesser known, of course, is the vulnerability of 100,000+ people to suffer a fate similar to New Orleans in 2005 if the dams in old Sacramento should break. All of this is compounded by the high percentage of the state influenced by San Andreas…

          Worst of all is the inordinate wealth contained in some of the elite companies still headquartered there–the same ones who profess their commitment to sustainability or even their support for a bona fide green new deal, which very well may involve their generously landscaped campus, their appeals to “kindness” and “human rights” while they manufacture their products in East Asia sweatshops with suicide nets, or their claim to support LGBTQ+ rights with the rainbow superimposed on their logo, a practice they boldly display each June in North America, Western Europe, Australia, Latin America–but never the Middle East/North Africa, China, or Russia–the places where the LGBTQ+ population faces a genuine threat.

          I’m not sure I have a real answer amidst this rambling response, but I guess I can only again steer the conversation at the end to humankind’s boundless capacity for innovation, only surpassed by its dogged inability to perfect itself. We’re pretty amazing and irrevocably flawed. As Solzhenitsyn reminds us, “The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.”

          Maybe the future of a city like San Francisco, teetering on a precipice, is to “right-size” itself as New Orleans has been forced to do? The question is, how do you replicate that across a megalopolis of 20M people, and what are the long term social and political implications for the nation’s most populous state? Best save that for a palm reader–no less qualified than a Chicago or LSE-educated economist at this point.

          Reply
      2. AmericanDirt Post author

        I tend to favor these bottom-up solutions as well, Chris. To me, it seems axiomatic that federalized solutions to deeply local problems are going to be using a chainsaw to attack a spider’s web.

        IMO, the most effective, generally uncontroversial, yet largely unheralded solution throughout COVID has been what many businesses, small and large, have done on their own volition: once seniors and people were compromised immune systems were clearly identified as the most vulnerable (as is usually the case with influenza), many of them specifically dedicated the first 1-2 hours after opening in the morning exclusive to serving seniors, in the initial hours after comprehensive cleaning and sanitization. And, from what I can tell, these businesses did this without any government incentives or injunctions.

        Reply
        1. Chris B

          Yes, my local Menards did it while I was finishing up a house rehab mid-2020. (My silver hair apparently was ample demonstration of senior status.) I think they were the first big box to require masks, maybe late March or early April ’20.

          Reply
          1. AmericanDirt Post author

            I bought my original masks at a hardware store. Carpenter masks (needless to say), and even in mid-February when I made the purchase, they were the only ones I could find easily. I didn’t like the way they smelled though.

            Reply

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