Monday, April 26, 2021

The Dangers of an Increasingly Online World

 The Dangers of an Increasingly Online World

Excerpt: While there are exceptions, in most arguments on social media, the default setting is that everyone who disagrees with you is at best an idiot, or more likely, a threat to good people everywhere. Both social media and regular media offer an endless buffet table of examples that the people who think differently than you really are imbecilic, corrupt, malevolent, and a danger to others. If you’re on the left, and go to a site like Raw Story this morning, you can read headlines such as: “‘Pathetic liar’ Greg Abbott blasted for online misinformation: ‘Take down this lie,’” “‘Sad, pathetic and weak:’ Kevin McCarthy demolished on Morning Joe for his mealy-mouthed defense of Trump,” “‘Fascist’ Ron DeSantis burned to the ground by Florida reporter for his latest Trump-like move.’’ Notice that all of these stories amount to “Someone said something critical about a Republican lawmaker.” (Also, I had missed that last bit of news. Shouldn’t someone be arrested for arson if that headline is true?) If you’re on the right, you can read this morning that “Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were once White House guests of former President Bill Clinton, “Michigan Democrat seen resisting DUI arrest, threatens to call Gov. Whitmer in bodycam footage,” and “Kamala Harris’ office stated ignorance of how volunteers, corporate sponsors chose her book for migrant kids.” There is always some new story to reassure you that the other side is irredeemably evil, and there’s no point in even trying to engage with them. After all, there’s a cultural war going on, or so we’re often told, not a mere cultural disagreement. A lot of morally debatable acts are justified in war that would not be justified in other circumstances. A lot of social-media algorithms are meant to promote posts with the highest level of “interactivity” — with no ability or desire to assess whether that interactivity is good or bad. Noncontroversial views do not generate interactivity; controversial ones do — which means that many social-media platforms inadvertently or deliberately set up a system that gives the biggest platform and widest audience to the most controversial and extreme viewpoints. [I seldom link to The Morning Jolt, though it’s now one of the minority of things National Review hasn’t limited access to. Today’s column by Jim Geraghty hits right between the eyes. Yes, we do need to back away a little. Once our perspective is lost, it’s difficult to get it back. Ron P.]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robert! It’s been a long time. I’m glad to see you’re still giving them hell.