Echoed Extremism

People are ‘talking’, if that’s what you can call posts on social networking sites. They’re talking about Trump incessantly, they’re talking about Race as if it’s a real thing – and therefore talking about racism… and either side seems to be as hateful as the other.

If your feed, if all you can post about, is how horrible an elected official is – you’re not addressing the problem. You’re not. Blaming an elected official isn’t either. You’re pissing in the wind. You really are.

Be it hating on Trump, or Obama, or G.W., (or T&T: Rowley, or Kamla, or…) the list goes on. You cannot blame society’s ills on elected officials. You cannot.

Society elected them.

So, rather than spit the bile out on a site, rather than just regurgitate someone else’s pointed finger at someone to blame, take a deeper look beyond that. Take a look at what caused it.

The electorate. For one reason or the other, the electorate chose this. Now you can cling on to whatever you want to say about voting machines, or whatever, and put yourself into the same cycle that happens after every close election. You can. And, as history will show you, that solves nothing. Not. One. Damned. Thing.

Democracy isn’t about voting anyway – it’s about conversation. Discussion. This is an *exchange* of ideas. It’s you extremists that can’t have a conversation with opposing views that are the problems – and you might be surprised it’s not the White Supremacists and BLM and whatever other groups aren’t the real problem. The real problem is their echo chamber.

You.

Yeah, sure, there are people with extreme positions – but why do they have them? Largely it’s because of culture and lately, economics and policies that hurt them. And sure, you’ll say, “They don’t hurt them, they aren’t about them.” Maybe they are. The Left is convinced that the Working Class are the poor, whereas the Right is convinced that the Working class is the middle class. Same country. Same language. Amazing.

Instead, I see an echo chamber that will perpetuate extremism – yes you, well meaning reader, posting everything bad you can possibly find about an elected official to show everyone (who already agrees with you) how bad they are. Yay, group masturbation.

So if all you got is how bad someone else is, and that’s all you can post about, you’re just adding fuel to the fire. Take a look at your stream. It defines you. It defines your connections; algorithms do not sweep the bad under the rug – they aggregate it. It’s the rare evil that does not think that it is doing good.

Adapted from one of my Facebook status updates

The Audience: Know It.

Blue Foundation liveAnyone who truly wishes to communicate is usually taught, somewhere along the line, about knowing their audience.

Knowing your audience is important for business, sure, but it goes beyond that. It gets back to personal communication, and as I noted elsewhere and helps diminish the signal to noise ratio: In essence, you should know what you’re communicating, to whom, and to what end.

Since we’re all sharing content on the vast canvas of the Internet, we should all understand this, particularly since people who we didn’t expect to see our content may well do so… and also because it creates our digital shadow: Who people think we are.

If you’re going to be late for work, as an example, what you would call/text to your boss should be different than missing a meeting with friends. There are people who don’t understand that difference, and they will find no help in this post. 

There are some assumptions that will help with this:

  • What you communicate on the internet will last forever, even if you delete it.
  • We may not be what people perceive, but they don’t know that. Your digital shadow is who they think you are and you should consider what you want that digital shadow to be. If you want to be seen as an idiot, by all means… 
  • You can’t control how your content is viewed, but you can control how you are.
  • Spreading bad information makes you an untrusted source, spreading good information makes you a trusted source. Which do you want to be?
  • Social networks only show your content to the audience their algorithms think will want to see it. If you want to change someone’s mind about something, they need to see it and they probably won’t see it unless you change how the algorithm perceives it… which means you might want to write to your audience. Unless you’re just intellectually/emotionally masturbating with people who think like you.

    I don’t judge. If that’s your thing… (but expect me to disappear if I’m in your network).

  • If you don’t want to be perceived as an idiot, don’t communicate like one.
  • It’s safe to assume that someone will absolutely hate what you’re communicating. They’re part of your audience. Defuse them beforehand if you can.
  • If you share content of a certain type all the time, you’ll get typecast. Do you want that typecast?
  • Using profanity might seem fucking brilliant at times, but overdone it’s cliche. Oh. And your parents/children might read it 10 years from now, so get a grip.
  • Lawyers might use what you share in a court case. Yay. We love lawyers. It isn’t mutual when it comes to litigation. “It’s not personal…”
  • Ranting and shouting isn’t very effective.

I’m certain I’ll think of a few more after I post this, so don’t think this is an exhaustive list.

Summarized: Everything you communicate can and will be used against you at some point.

Your audience on the Internet is more global than your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Communicate like it.

Hitting Pause: Social Networks

3D Social NetworkingI’m displeased with social networks in general at this time, particularly after the last year of idiocy with the U.S. Presidential Election. It extends beyond that, and I will touch on that shortly.

I wrote about what I saw in June 2016 as related to politics in “Social Networks, Democracy, and Ethics” – and after the election, people are still wrapping their heads around it because they have been given their opinions from within the echo chambers of their social media accounts. It’s the allegory of the cave in that people are fed what they want to see, and it’s the hedgehog’s dilemma with a bunch of thin skinned and long-quilled hedgehogs.

Typically, I’m in the center – connected to all walks of life, around the world, of different opinions on everything. I’m in a prime location to watch people disagree, and when I try to explain the sides to each other I find myself tired. People are just going to have to figure out how to deal with each other. And, of course, everyone who reads this will think I’m writing about everyone but them when in fact the odds are almost 100% that I’m also writing about them.

The conservative that can’t allow for the free choice of others (ain’t that free will?). The liberal who pursues their ideology with the fervor of a zealot who, fortunately, isn’t armed by their very nature. The religious person who tears at science, the anti-theist who just can’t leave people be with their religion. The anti-Islamists, intent on calling all Muslims violent, and the Christian right, who has no idea just how much they have in common with the Islamists.

It goes on and on and on and on. And on. My newsfeed is littered with articles based on supposition and no actual facts, posted by well-intentioned people to poorly belabor their own perspectives.

The Internet has allowed these people to know about each other and, rather than hash out differences, it becomes a battle of tribes that I have lost patience with.

So: Pause. When you folks figure out how not to be assholes to each other… let me know. A smoke signal or something.