Notebook

‘Sense of significance’

“While debunking or fact-checking are valuable, they aren’t going to move someone who feels a sense of significance through absorbing and promoting esoteric but baseless theories.”

Travis View, host of QAnon Anonymous podcast, speaking to NYT’s Charlie Warzel

This is the heart of the matter when it comes to conspiracy theories and today’s distrust in media.

Two forces at play. Number one: the sense of belonging in our isolated world is a powerful force, whether it’s flat earthers, QAnon fanatics, angry “gamergaters”, whoever. Many of these people would have previously gravitated towards sports or other interest-based communities — they’re now instead finding their social needs fulfilled (in a flawed sense) by conspiratorial groups. The social web has driven “fandom” to dark places.

Number two: Once the collective filter is in place — “the media is lying to you” — every fact presented can be written off incredibly easily. Experts become the “Deep State”, opposition protests become Soros-funded. These people don’t lose touch with reality, they just put a filter on it that strengthens their own position. Whenever the media makes a genuine mistake, as can happen, the assuredness becomes even more entrenched.

DoorDash Superstar

DoorDash has invested in Burma Bites, a spin-off from Burma Superstar, the much-loved Bay Area mini chain. From SFChronicle’s Justin Phillips:

DoorDash declined to specify how much money it is investing in Burma Bites, but Georgie Thomas, head of regional merchant partnerships at the San Francisco delivery company, said in an email that COVID-19 “has accelerated the need for merchants” to establish their online presence in the Bay Area. Thomas said investing in Burma Bites is a way for the company to take its mission of increasing delivery sales for restaurants during the pandemic one step further.

It’s the latest move from DoorDash to put down some more brick and mortar roots — this follows opening its own grocery dark stores, and setting up a dark kitchen down near its HQ in Redwood City.

High risk

Early on in the pandemic I wrote a piece that described Amazon as America’s new Red Cross. A story I came across today underlines that point. How many other ecommerce players make the news when deliveries are slow? From CBS LA:

Residents in two Ventura County cities say their Amazon Prime service has suddenly become sluggishly slow without explanation.

Rosalinda Rodriguez of Moorpark is paralyzed from the chest down. Though she uses a wheelchair to get around, she relies on delivery services like Amazon for convenience and safety.

“I am at high risk if I do contract coronavirus because I do have a spinal cord injury,” Rodriguez said.

She pays $119 a year for an Amazon Prime membership so she can get her orders in one to two days. But about a month ago, her amazon deliveries suddenly slowed.

“So now if I try to place an order it will take anywhere from seven to 10 days,” she said.

There was a time when “seven to 10 days” was something of an ecommerce miracle. Now, anything beyond one or two days, and Amazon is held up as putting people’s health — life! — at risk. Amazon wouldn’t tell CBS LA why deliveries had slowed, but did say it was seeking to increase capacity in the area.

“What’s with the Honda?”

It’s a shame that Jeff Bezos has hidden himself away from media interviews in the last few years, instead favouring the set piece, highly-controlled “fireside chat”.

I say a shame because he’s clearly an engaging man. I’m sure Amazon’s at-times prickly PR team wishes they could put him on camera more often. Here’s a nice moment from a 60 Minutes airing back in 1999, doing the rounds today on Twitter:

AOC on Twitch

Over the course of around three hours on Tuesday, more than 700,000 people checked out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s debut on Amazon’s Twitch. Or, in other words:

I’ve had the discussion many times about what happens when popular streamers decide they want to go into politics. We’ve seen it with some members of the alt-right.

Much more interesting, though, is what happens when politicians decide they want to go into streaming. There’s small window here: too much gaming will reflect badly on the country’s most in demand congressperson in a district that needs all of her attention. But still, grasping these platforms unlocks an entire generation of voter.