Internet Myopia

Posted on December 26, 2016 by Richard Goulter

Twitter is a great website for righteous anger. Recently, I’ve observed that people on Twitter tend to be myopic. – You can be fairly sure that the things people tweet about (or retweet) will all have a single focus. It’s more specific than “my tribe is awesome/good”.

I tend to be hesitant about giving object-level opinions.
There’s a well-known fable about four blind folk describing what they sense; four unique/different parts of an elephant. It’s often recounted in a kumbaya, “people may each see a different part of truth” kindof way. (Similarly, there’s the cartoon about the cylinder projected as a circle and a rectangle, and two folk arguing..; I think that’s pretty dumb/bullshit, because it does a poor job of modelling how people disagree over things).
– What I’d emphasise here is the limited nature the opinions (rather than the “everyone sees some truth”). – The blind folk still only know the parts of the elephant they encounter. – You can kinda-sorta dismiss any opinion off-hand as limited and probably-wrong. (This is why ‘qualifying’ the opinion is useful). But it’s still probably useful to have some marketplace of ideas where different opinions get thrown about.

Something which is pretty fascinating is, in their myopic anger.. it’s interesting to see the way one group describes their out-group. – People remain pettily angry about some incident/issue for a long time.
I guess fear is a better motivator than hope; and each side of some conflict will see their side as losing. e.g.:

On Facebook, my friends share posts with phrases like “..your Facebook feed full of Trump supporters..”, and such an experience is completely alien to me.

– Of course, none of that is much of a surprise: people don’t question claims which support their beliefs; and will be doubtful about claims which go against their beliefs.
Can I believe it?” (for things you want to believe),
Must I believe it?” (for things you don’t want to believe).
– And in a sense all the above is just an example of “talking past each other”. But it’s fascinating to see.

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