Fear is viral, and it is highly contagious.
Cloudy-minded futurists, optimistic technologists, and opportunistic capitalists brought us the ideal vector for viral fear: the social web.
Their algorithms appear to reward not the quality of ideas, but rather the virality of ideas. What spreads fastest and widest wins, human consequences be damned. Clicks beget shares which beget views, and views are profit.
A perfect storm is fast approaching on the horizon: as we spend more of our time in front of our screens, we spend less time in front of other humans. As we gain the ability to speak to millions, we lose the ability to listen to one. As we connect to distant friends, we make new and distant enemies. The more information we consume, the less we can digest. The more we seek one idea, the less we are served of others. As the social web learns more about us, the less we remember about our own and others’ human selves.
What are we to do?
Stop consuming and sharing fear. Stop it, right now. Delete it from your walls, your timelines, and your feeds. Hide those memes that give you the satisfaction of smug self-righteousness. Unfollow the fear-mongers.
Does it attach a pejorative label to a group of people of whom you’ve never personally met one?
Does it make you see a group of people as a single evil entity?
Does it call someone a bad name?
Ask yourself: what do I feel when I read this bit of information? Righteous? Fearful? Angry?
Consider the source. What are their motives? Are you an unwitting accomplice in their plans? Do they motivate you to act from fear? From a sense of righteousness in their cause? A loathing of “the other?”
The powerful get their power from the ideas in your head, not from the force of their fists on your face.
Refuse to be a pawn in someone else’s information war.
Only by resisting yourself do you resist them.
Only by knowing yourself will you understand others.