Asymmetry of Digital Literacy Between The Political Divide

Jul. 6, 2022 [technology] [politics]

Discussion arose recently around the disparity found in technical literacy between the Lib-Left and Lib-Right, after a writeup by 寮 sparked some contemplation. Why is it that right leaning libertarians are so frequently outnumbered and outclassed in technical aptitude by their left leaning counterparts? Why do those who constantly find themselves removed from centralized platforms neglect to explore digital independence? Speculation has gone in several directions but before we look at any hypotheses, let’s establish some simple observations.

SNS Comparison

Common Lib-Left Common Lib-Right
Keen on organizing over decentralized, liberated communication Coalesces into centralized “alt” surviellence platforms
Strong overlap with GNU/Linux, BSD, free software userbase Remains on OS and software designed by the same FAANGs who keep banning them
Often developers, build and host their own sites/services Creates replacement platforms using prepackaged big tech cloud infrastructure & middleware
Demonstrates OPSEC and awareness of security/privacy considerations Reliance on others for secure services, only a mild regard for data privacy

First, why the trend in MtF UNIX types? I think there is an unspoken love triangle between aspergers, transexuals and tech. Gender dysphoria is positively coorelated with autism [1]. At the same time, screening reveals an overlap between strong computer interest and autism [1]. And their own self analyzing theories tend to cite technology being their earliest outlet for escapism into worlds where they can masquerade as the opposite sex.

FOSS hackers have always cross-dressed crossed paths with Lib-Left ideologies. A significant portion of FOSS organizers try to position themselves favorably with emerging culture in hopes of recruiting new faces. So the FSF, for example, regularly panders to social justice and inclusivity.

“At LibrePlanet, we often talk about how free software intersects with human rights and social justice issues.”

This leaves left ideologues with the clout and manpower to build their own systems when needed, and to do it well.

These differences manifest in their choice haunts; in microblogging for example - the right have several Twitter clones which just borrow code from Mastodon and run unfederated, forgoing Mastodon’s strongest feature. Meanwhile the left have taken well to organize on the fediverse. However they, too, make concerted efforts to erect walls around their communities by running fediblock, a collaboration between server operators to defederate instances of anyone who oppose their ideologies. But at least they try to integrate with the wider federated network.

I took a sampling of personalized site links from both sides. It is true that rightists tend to stuff their pages with third party resources, ads and links to their big tech profiles, if they even have a site. So many just treat their Substack or Telegram groups as home. In contrast, the pages which were thoughtfully crafted and seemingly self hosted were those of the aforementioned UNIX trannies.

So the consensus reached in the day-long conversation was that rightists tend to be boomers who are naturally averse to technical learning, while their younger cohort’s exposure was largely only through gaming which limited the scope of any skills they would go on to develop. Left aligning people tended to be millennials who grew up tinkering with technology, where there was already a dominant progressive culture.

That leaves young people who are both libertarian right and technically proficient in a very lonely place. Nowhere is this endangered species more apparent than in cryptocurrency circles where one can find self described anarcho-capitalists shilling for proprietary wallets, holding their keys on botnet operating systems (if they even hold their own keys at all) and generally missing the whole point of decentralized cryptocurrency.

It is said that the left can’t meme… well, it seems the right can’t computer.