Living in The Matrix – More Isolation, Fear, and Tribalism

Executive Summary

  • Our politics and culture are mired in fear and tribalism.
  • The algorithms tracking you on social media are triggered by your negative emotions and amplify the negativity.
  • Your digital tribe keeps consuming and feeding each other with the same ideology.
  • We regress further into tribalism and mistrust of those not in your tribe.
  • Higher social media use is linked with increased anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Short attention spans deactivate critical thinking skills (skills which are no longer being taught by the intellectual elites in our colleges and universities).

Those of us old enough to know what life was like before social media may remember how exciting Facebook was at its inception. Imagine, the ability to connect with old friends we had not seen for decades! Then, Facebook was a virtual dynamic conversation. This brilliant idea, to connect to others with shared experiences and interests, was strengthened with the advent of Twitter, Instagram and apps.

Things did not remain that simple. These platforms have morphed into Frankenstein’s monsters, filled with so-called friends we’ve never met, slanted news stories, celebrity gossip, self-aggrandizement and ads.

The Matrix is already here: Social media promised to connect us, but left us isolated, scared and tribal —

I’ve written about the dangers of social media many times:

More Social Media Use Linked to More Depression and Anxiety in Teens

Quit Social Media – Dr. Cal Newport

The Pleasures of Life without Social Media

The Potential Harm of Social Media

I’ve bulleted the highlights of the Matrix article but the entire article is well worth reading. What truth?

Time to Hunker Down

Be safe this year in whatever form of holiday celebrating you choose to do.

The holidays are upon us, which means a spike in gatherings of people who do not otherwise see one another. Such get-togethers, especially if they are multi-generational, can spark more outbreaks. I take no joy in saying this, but all of this means that any gathering outside one’s existing quarantine pod should be avoided for now—especially if it is indoors. Think of it as a postponement and plan to hold it later. Better a late Christmas than an early medical catastrophe. Pods should not expand unless absolutely necessary. Order takeout instead of dining indoors. Make game night virtual. Shop in bulk, so you can do fewer trips to the store. It’s not the right time for wedding receptions or birthday parties.

Young people present one of the biggest challenges. Many colleges are ending school and sending students home, for what could be a country-wide super-spreader event. That age group—young adults—is especially dangerous; while they can get infected, they are less likely to get very sick, so they don’t stay put the way sick people would. That means they pose a great risk to their more vulnerable parents and other older relatives as they go about their lives. Ideally, colleges should offer the students already on campus the option to stay in the dorms over winter break, and those who live in off-campus housing should consider staying put. If they do go home, the students should quarantine for the recommended two weeks to the greatest degree possible.

It’s Time to Hunker Down —

Meanwhile in Tulsa County Oklahoma…

Zip codes in severe Covid-19 risk category —

and Garfield County Colorado…

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

What will Thanksgiving look like this year? We asked a turkey farmer. Read for some insight into…turkeys.

Meanwhile in Oklahoma – About That Mask Debate 11.13.20

Oklahoma Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report 11/6-11/12 2020

In Oklahoma we don’t have a statewide mask mandate. Mask mandate decisions are at the city level. The last time I looked at these numbers I focused on the percent change from 8/1 to the present study date. Today my eyes focused on the Nov. 1 seven day average case numbers mask vs no mask. My small brain is trying to understand what I’m seeing. Under the assumption mask wearing is effective in helping stop the virus from spreading why is the gap narrowing?

Numbers notwithstanding, I’m still going to wear a mask.

Quote for Today (from the past) – 11.13.20

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People call say ‘beware doll, you’re bound to fall’
You thought they were all kidding you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal

How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

Bob Dylan

Utah – What Up?

And the people of Utah responded appropriately…

“He doesn’t have the authority to tell us what to do in our own lives, in our homes and what we wear,” said Ken Whetstone, who was protesting outside the governor’s mansion on Monday, according to the Deseret News.

Utah Mask Rule Spurs Protests; Colorado Extends Its Mandate —

When the NBA season came to an abrupt stop in March it just happened to be one of the Utah Jazz athletes who tested positive.

That’s it. No other snarky comments at this time.

PSA (public service announcement) – Ring Doorbells are on Fire!

Amazon has announced a massive recall of a version of its Ring doorbell, according to a notice posted on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website. The recall involves the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Generation) with the model number 5UM5E5. The reason for the recall is because the “video doorbell’s battery can overheat when the incorrect screws are used for installation, posing fire and burn hazards,” according to the CPSC.

350,000 Amazon Ring doorbells recalled after some units catch fire
Fast Company

Pfizer and BioNTech Announce Vaccine Candidate Against COVID-19 Achieved Success in First Interim Analysis from Phase 3 Study

Vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis

Analysis evaluated 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants

Study enrolled 43,538 participants, with 42% having diverse backgrounds, and no serious safety concerns have been observed; Safety and additional efficacy data continue to be collected

Submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planned for soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is currently expected to occur in the third week of November

Clinical trial to continue through to final analysis at 164 confirmed cases in order to collect further data and characterize the vaccine candidate’s performance against other study endpoints

Press Release —

How Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine works: mRNA

“There was always a discussion: Is the spike protein the right target? Well, now we know it’s the right target,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told STAT on Monday. “So, it’s not only immediate good news, it really is optimistic about what’s going to roll out in the next several months with the other vaccines.”

Four reasons for encouragement based on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine results —

Meanwhile in Oklahoma – 11.08.20 (exponential growth UPDATE)

State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said the following in a statement released Sunday: “Today’s individual case number, 4,507, is a corrected version of yesterday’s number with all duplicate cases removed. Today we will not be releasing a new daily case number, allowing our data reporting system to catch up and ensure duplications are removed from the daily number prior to release moving forward. Starting tomorrow, the daily number released will not include any duplicates. We are committed to giving the public and media accurate and transparent data, and this will ensure the daily number reflects the actual case count. We will continue to point to the 7-day average, percent positivity and hospitalizations in addition to the daily number to give a more complete picture of trends. We have no reason to believe our revised number is an anomaly, but instead shows community spread is occurring. We continue to urge all Oklahomans to take this highly-contagious virus seriously and act immediately to avoid large gatherings, wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance to others. Together we can bring these numbers down and protect our friends, family and neighbors.”


4507 NOT 4741!

My original post follows below. I’m glad we got this number fixed. Am I supposed to feel better now?

The headline came across my Twitter feed and my eyes just froze. Oklahoma reported 4,741 new coronavirus cases which obliterated the previous single-day record. I am still in a state of shock and tried to confirm the number at Unfortunately the state’s webpage has numbers are only updated to 11.06.20.

Source: Twitter

If today’s reported numbers turn out to be accurate it’s going to be a long, cold, nasty winter.


The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 4,741 new infections on Saturday, shattering the previous daily record of 2,101 that was set on Thursday, and moving Oklahoma’s 7-day average to near 2,000 new cases. There have been 136,492 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Oklahoma since the pandemic began.

Oklahoma officials place responsibility on state residents after huge surge in COVID cases —

The record number of new infections today is confirmed.

Tomorrow I go shopping to stock up the pantry.