Paying for the Podcasts of the Unexamined Life

Have you noticed Jordan Peterson’s new stridency? I listened to his angry podcast with Rex Murphy. I thought it bordered on bitterness, but then, I don’t have to live in Canada. I have seen his message to Christian churches and to Twitter. I have heard his interview with Rod Dreher, one of the ones you don’t want to miss. I’m actually behind on his podcasts because there have been so many recently, beside all the little things he’s showering into youTube. It seems to have started around the time Twitter locked his account.

I remember thinking that Twitter had gone to far. They are locking him out for something J.K. Rowling has essentially done, and she is still there. I thought there were people that were un-cancellable, and that surely Jordan Peterson was one of them. But it happened, and it looks permanent, and he has since turned-on attack mode. Three observations shoot forth from the branch of this event.

The first is that twitter seems to be in some kind of meltdown phase. It is amusing that Elon Musk told them he was going to buy them, they said no way, he wrestled with them, he decided he was not going to buy them, and they end up saying: You have to buy us! Now they’re suing him. What comes out of that? A legal record of how many bots it has, an arbitrated and scrutinized evaluation of the value of the thing, and perhaps Musk owning it at a cheaper price, or, on the other hand, the whole experience terminating it. What would we who for a decade or more have used Twitter do if it goes? I don’t think it gets replaced, I think it moves into the past and is a part of a receding moment. And I think that if it could not be reformed, it has certainly outlived its use. I will say I’ve learned a whole lot from using Twitter.

The second is that Jordan Peterson has been spooked by social media in the past. He’s had a beta version of his own platform for years and years now. When will that be up and running? He has gone to the Daily Wire, the consolidated and growing corporation of the old Intellectual Dark Web. It may be the answer to what happens to Twitter and youTube and all free services. If you want quality content, you have to pay. I think some kind of consolidation of bundled services makes sense. Why shouldn’t something as recent as the internet go through all kinds of iterations and changes? To have a paywall is the logic of the streaming service, after all. Once a service has a reputation, once it is of known quality, it makes sense to charge and deal with willing customers, not all and sundry. Free services are for the mendicant until they no longer have to beg. Will this eventually issue into a less open internet ruled by the gatekeepers who run fiefdoms within their protective paywalls?

The third thing issuing from the Twitter lockout is that maybe Peterson is working himself up to something. He goes through throes in all kinds of public and unusual ways and afterward comes out of some great pile-on stronger by orders of magnitude. That is the pattern. What is he working himself up for this time? I understand that, like his daughter, he’s relocated or relocating to Nashville. What is going on in Nashville? The Daily Wire is there, is that all? Is Nashville another Austin, a new gathering place and refuge for people with determination to accomplish what is elsewhere banned?

Returning to the subject of podcasts, I’m also behind on John Anderson podcasts. Two observations there. One is that he is so sane and sensible. The other is that he’s so low-key that I can see him having to go away if youTube censored him. So what happens to people at that level, the small, good gifts of the open internet? What happens to lower-profile fountains of enlightening conversation? These are people talking about books. But they are not people whose books you would always read. It is like Abigail Shrier or Douglas Murray. I don’t need to read these books once I’ve heard them talk about it. I tried, and they had no grip on me because I had the gist already. I think the podcast gets to the point of certain kinds of books about current events in a better way. The book is necessary to garner the research and organization necessary to make observations. We need Murray to write it, but we don’t need to read it: we have the podcasts. Of course, no book, no incentive for him to research.

So does that drive us back to the paywall for the podcast?