Thursday, October 11, 2018

Life, the Internet, and Everything

I used to enjoy social media, but these days, it just makes me sad. It seems like no one is able to see anything from anyone else's point of view anymore, and everyone is at each other's throats. When I was a kid, our teachers used to tell us not to judge anyone until you've walked a mile in their shoes (moccasins?) Now it seems that people are proud of not being able to do that - and will come up with all kinds of straw-man arguments on why they're "right" not to do so - even for their own friends and family.

I feel very naive, because when the internet came out, it seemed like everyone could have a voice, and that would make the world better. Instead it wound up creating ideological bastions where everyone could reassure themselves that they're "right" and scream generalized accusations at everyone who's "wrong." In the recent words of Stephen Fry, "A grand canyon has opened up in our world... Neither on each side can hear a word that the other shrieks, nor do they want to."

Here's another favorite quote: "You'll never be able to use facts and logic to talk someone out of a position they've reached using emotion." I wish I remember who said this (Robert Anton Wilson, maybe?), but it should be on the sign-in page of every social media site.

I have to admit, I've played more than my share of identity politics in my life. I'm sure you could read a lot of them here. But in the end, it's not a zero-sum game. Spreading hate or love won't balance any scales. Hating one group doesn't add love to another; refusing compassion won't replenish any that was once refused to you. Love may not always get you love in return, but causing pain isn't going to lessen yours.


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