6

And because diversions scale so easily—after all, who doesn’t want to post selfies on Instagram?—wealth becomes extremely concentrated in fewer hands.

As you know the word Scale as a verb has many meanings:

  • to weigh in scales
  • to remove the scale or scales from
  • to take off in thin layers or scales
  • to throw (something, such as a thin, flat stone) so that the edge cuts the air or so that it skips on water
  • to attack with or take by means of scaling ladders
  • to climb up or reach by means of a ladder
  • to reach the highest point of : SURMOUNT
  • to arrange in a graduated series
  • to measure by or as if by a scale
  • to pattern, make, regulate, set, or estimate according to some rate or standard : ADJUST

So, Could you tell me please which one explains the sentence?

The fuller text:

There’s one last component to this harebrained theory that I still haven’t spoken about: inequality. During periods of prosperity, more and more economic growth is driven by diversions. And because diversions scale so easily—after all, who doesn’t want to post selfies on Instagram?—wealth becomes extremely concentrated in fewer hands. This growing wealth disparity then feeds the “revolution of rising expectations.” Everyone feels that their life is supposed to be better, yet it’s not what they expected; it’s not as pain-free as they had hoped. Therefore, they line up on their ideological sides— master moralists over here, slave moralists over there—and they fight.

  • Additinal note(I added this note and the question below after some people answered the original question):

    In other page of his book the author mentions:

Bernays’s political beliefs were appalling. He believed in what I suppose you could call “diet fascism”: same evil authoritarian government but without the unnecessary genocidal calories. Bernays believed that the masses were dangerous and needed to be controlled by a strong centralized state. But he also recognized that bloody totalitarian regimes were not exactly ideal. For him, the new science of marketing offered a way for governments to influence and appease their citizens without the burden of having to maim and torture them left, right, and center. You know, because torture doesn’t scale well.

Does he use two "scale" in the same way?

11

As pointed out, there are many meanings of scale. The third Lexico entry is

scale3
VERB

2.1 (of a quantity or property) be variable according to a particular scale.
Asymmetrical virtualization, by contrast, can scale to any level, as the appliance does not handle any data flow or physical connections.

From this comes the adjective scalable

2.1 (of a computing process) able to be used or produced in a range of capabilities.
There is no better example of a scalable infrastructure than the Internet.

So when we say that something is scalable, the process or idea works at a small scale, or a large scale. If the scope of the thing can be increased or widened without having to change the techniques used, then it is said to be scalable.

  • I still cannot understand the relationship between A(because diversions scale so easily) and B(wealth becomes extremely concentrated in fewer hands). – Peace Aug 6 at 10:51
  • @Peace See my comment above. The more diversions (are scaled) = the bigger the bubble of the consumerist economy based on the selling of diversions (as Mark Manson defines them) by the wealthy few to the whole lot of ordinary people. – Michael Login Aug 6 at 11:21
  • 7
    @Peace I can't explain the author's logic, but this is the meaning of scale in the passage. – Weather Vane Aug 6 at 11:21
4

Okay, so the logic is a little convoluted here but the meaning of scale is itself quite definite:

Scale here means that without any effort, the number of diversions available can increase, relative to the number of users.

So how did I get that meaning from a word that has so many possible interpretations?

Scale followed by the preposition 'with' indicates that as one thing increases, so does another (or alternatively, as one thing shrinks, so does the other). This preposition isn't written in the text above though. However, what is written is

[...] more and more economic growth is driven by diversions. And because diversions scale so easily [...] wealth becomes extremely concentrated in fewer hands

This indicates that economic growth is proportional to 'diversions'. Okay so we are taking about something increasing, and this is directly related to 'diversions'.

At this point the logic becomes a bit complicated. The piece says that wealth becomes extremely concentrated in fewer hands. This means that diversions aren't scaling relative to the number of hands (they are inversely proportional). The 'hands' in this case would likely be the owners of social media platforms or whatever.

You can't say that diversions scale relative to economic growth. They are related, but it's clear that diversions are driving the economic growth of the platforms (like Instagram), not the other way around. As such, by a process of elimination, scale must be in relation to users. As the number of users increases, so too do the number of diversions. Lots of users means lots of diversions. There will never be the case where people will run of diversions because there were too many users relative to the number of diversions: because the diversions scale with the number of users.

  • It's reasonable. But your definition of "scale" isn't based on a dictionary or reliable reference. – Peace Aug 6 at 10:55
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    No, your logic is flawed, but that might be grasped only by reading the whole of the text "Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope" by Mark Manson. People don't invent diversions, they consume them. Diversions are invented and owned by the wealthy few who program the people to buy diversions and thereby blow the bubble of the economy. – Michael Login Aug 6 at 11:13
  • @Peace it's an extension of "arrange in a graduated series". – RonJohn Aug 6 at 19:04
3

It's the last one, "to pattern, make, regulate, set, or estimate according to some rate or standard : ADJUST". You'll also see under that definition:

//a production schedule scaled to actual need
—often used with back, down, or up
//scale down imports

"diversions scale so easily" means "the quantity of diversions can easily be adjusted to meet demand". In this context, "X scales" means "the capacity for X can easily be increased", or "continues to work as the scale increases". It contrasts with things that break down if you try to increase their size. For instance, the old CRT versions of TVs didn't scale very well: the depth of the TV had to be about the same as the width, so making a 100" CRT was not practical for most purposes. A flat-screen TV, on the other hand, has a constant thickness (or, at least, the thickness increases less quickly with width as compared to a CRT), and therefore scales much better.

  • 1
    In other words, the size of the entertainment business can be scaled up easily. The new, larger entertainment business is a larger copy of the older, smaller entertainment business; the smaller business was used as a pattern for the larger business. – Jasper Aug 6 at 21:09

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