The more I use social media sites — Slashdot, Reddit, Facebook, MySpace, Digg and even newspapers with comments — is that they do not encourage engagement.
In other words, they let us side-step the question of “is this a good idea?” on any item, and instead comment simply on what we think of it. We’re not predicting cause and effect; we’re judging parts of reality as to whether they fit our personal preference.
Think about all the things in modern life that are like this:
- Consumerism: I don’t care if it’s junk or junk food, I want it now because I can and I have the $5 in my sweaty hand.
- Media culture: Voyeurism of the lurid and profane, this lets us see all aspects of life turned into soap box drama that we can then judge whilst clucking our tongues.
- Morality: An utter parasite and stupid person finally did something annoying enough to get him killed. But we fear death, and it offends us, so we send the cops to find and punish the person who helped us clean up our gene pool.
- Democracy: We don’t have to prove we’re voting intelligently, we just vote for whatever flatters us. “I like to think of myself as progressive, so whatever candidate uses that label is good enough for me!”
Modern society is built on the principle that each individual is a king — in a domain limited only by commerce. Given how leftist individualism is, and how rightist capitalism is, that shows us an odd convergence.
As we get more into this method of letting each person measure how things appear to them, while we as a group never seek the truth, it’s not surprising that our problems don’t go away — we’re recreating them with our laziness and bratty, social media-style behaviors.