Dirk Knemeyer

Truth, Omission, Sovereignty & Capitalism, December 1, 2016

As I’ve grown older and thought about the world a lot from a philosophical perspective, I’m less convinced, than ever that there’s such a thing as truth or objective truth, that it’s all perceptual. It’s all just I am a specific person with very uniquely specific context, you are a person with uniquely specific context and the reality is a consequence of that context and of who and where we are.

The point that I want to make with that is I’ve taken that to also then think about what is lying right? Because if you say there is no truth, lying becomes an interesting concept as well. A lot of the things that are “lying” are what we would say is lying by omission. What’s a good example? Obviously not a real one but I know that I robbed a bank and I don’t tell my wife, right? Most people would say, “Well, you were lying, you didn’t say you robbed a bank?”

Well no, I made a choice not to include that information in the things that I said. What Mark is saying is “Hey, some of the things out there is okay even though there are some things that have been omitted basically and are not available.” I think it depends on what you think about lying and think about the question of, as a person, Jon, as you and I talk, as we have lunch, we had lunch together today, during that lunch I’m going to choose to tell you about certain things and choose to not tell you about other things.

Most of the things I don’t tell you about I’ve made some editorial decision because I think it’s not relevant. You won’t be interested in it you don’t need to hear it. There are some things that perhaps I made a choice not to say because I would be embarrassed or I think you would think badly of me. There’s lots of sort of decision points that get me to these are things that actually came out of my mouth while we were having lunch.

Historically, it’s almost just a gut check thing. When I say, “Hey, I didn’t tell my wife that I robbed a bank.” Somebody says, “Oh Jesus, I mean that’s a lie.” On the other hand, if I say, “Yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t tell my wife that um I put ketchup on my hot dog.” Nobody is going to consider that a lie right? Yet, they are really the same thing. They are me making some editorial choice of what I think is relevant to the other person or not.

From my perspective, it’s all lying in the way that we use lying as a filter for editing, right? There are some that are socially acceptable and some that are not, but it’s total gut check. It’s total lick your finger and put it in the air and whatever way you feel that the wind is blowing. This is very roundabout but now bringing it to Mark Zuckerberg’s contention, he’s saying, “Hey, having the platform there and having some amount of information that a big brother of some kind is restricting people from seeing, that, I’m sure for many of us with more liberal sensibilities, that’s going to get us upset. It flies against what we’ve been taught and what we believe.

At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s … I may not like it, I may wish the world wasn’t that way but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal in reality because there’s editing going on all over the place and we’re mad because it’s some apparatus of the Chinese government as opposed to it’s just Bob on Facebook who happened to put this thing up or that thing up. I get why people are conceptually upset by it but I think it’s really philosophically idealistic as opposed to practical.

We’re getting this mixed bag at best of information because there’s individuals and companies that are incentivized to send us whatever will make them the most money. At the end of the day so much comes down to capitalism.

With Facebook, with this example, the whole reason that Facebook exists, whether we like it or not, and honestly, I don’t like it, I’m anti-capitalist big time, but the reason Facebook exists is to maximize shareholder value. In the context of maximizing shareholder value, there’s no question what they should be doing. They should be trying to get into the Chinese market, monetizing that market, and making more money for the people who own those shares of stock.

Do I wish the world was not that way? I do. Is the world that way? It is. As such, Facebook are going to Facebook. If you have a problem, it’s at the level of capitalism. It shouldn’t be at the level of Facebook. Facebook is just participating in this broken freaking system. The other big pillar to look at from the standpoint of Facebook in China, is the notion of national sovereignty and national governments.

We liberal United States may not believe in the censorship, in the things that are going on in China. That may offend our sensibilities but China is a sovereign nation and unless we’re going to send in the troops and the bombs and it’s so important that everyone have the access that we’re going to conquer that nation, we have to respect what’s happening there to some degree.

There’s a lot of things happening there that don’t make me happy, that I wish we were in Utopia. I wish I could go there and wave my finger and have it go away but it doesn’t work that way. We are in a global environment with different nations, each of which have different beliefs. I think a lot of the Chinese beliefs are wrong. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think I am but maybe I’m wrong.

Their nation, they can make their own decisions and rules and set that stuff up and look, do we want to be the policemen of the world or not? Now we’re really getting into … I’m talking about the United States here. We’re really getting into a bigger swath of things. It creates untold issues when we try and go in benevolently and impose our will, impose our values, impose our rule over other people, other nations.

To me this is all a big to-do about nothing. It’s funny, I’m so liberal and yet I’m always hammering liberals but it’s true. Its’ all of this liberal angst for things that we shouldn’t be angsty about. If we’re angsty about anything, it should be freaking capitalism, right? If we’re angsty about anything it should be that there’s not a one-world government that is driven by liberal principles and holistic long-reaching thinking. Those are the things to be mad about, but the fact that some company is working within the system, in the rules of the system the way it’s set up and engaging with a sovereign nation in ways that make me feel a little bit icky, but it’s just the freaking system. If you hate the system, let’s attack the system but for all the liberals to be up in arms about Facebook and standing on their soapboxes, I don’t have much respect for it to be honest.


Why Companies Become Bad, October 22, 2015

When I think of CEOs who, big company CEOs who I find admirable. I mean one of them who I would have said in the past was Jeff Bezos. Started a book selling company. Seems like a nice geeky guy. The way Amazon behaves now, if you had Jeff Bezos sitting in his garage 20 years ago, he would have said his company would never behave that way, but here it is. Here’s Amazon freezing out competitors with bullying business tactics if people don’t do things exactly the way they want they get shut down and shut out with strong-arm strong-handed crap. That guy before he was the CEO of this conglomerate never would have stood for it, and now he’s presiding over the company that’s doing it. I mean you name for me a big company that’s really doing it differently, that really is, because I don’t think they are. I think that once a company gets to a certain size it goes down the path of evil. Evil is probably too loaded of a word. It goes down a path of badness. Even if your motto is not do evil, right?

I can only guarantee it’s financially driven. They’re saying, “Uh-oh, we’re starting to see a drop off in customers, and we’re getting these reports of all these pissed off customers about this customer service thing.” ROI-wise, if we are not losing these customers we’re gaining more if part of it is this on-shore call center. Those are the kind of … There’s nobody saying, “You know what? I went through our system and it sucks. I went through it myself four hours, miserable, we’re not putting our customers through this. We’re going to do a better way because it’s the right thing to do and it will make us a better company ultimately.” That’s not it. It’s all the accountants, the bottom line, that’s the problem. Darkness comes from that mentality. Darkness comes from the bottom-line mentality because it strips out the empathy, it strips out the compassion, it strips out the service for the consumer and it focuses on the profits for the organization.