The Devolution of Social Media Interaction

Why do race, gender, politics, and religion videos published on facebook garner such high-voltage reaction? Why do people get personal? Why does the conversation quickly yield to degrading ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, and futile attempts at persuasion with no chance of reconciliation?

TL;DR — All generalizations are false, including this one


What about white privilege? What about institutionalized racism and police brutality? What about gender discrimination? How do these topics create such division, angst, turmoil? Why is it so difficult to find good treatment toward the well-intentioned? How did we lose our ability to understand, to speak, to relate to others?

Our experiences are individualized, specialized, and nuanced, but in a polarizing paradox, we seek to understand our place in the world by looking for the common, the shared.

From there we attempt to reason about & interpret our concrete life experiences in abstract terms, whether social, political, economic, or ethnic, and synthesize an understanding, a meaning, a purpose for ourselves and those around us.

Soon, we discover an odd yet intrinsic impedance mismatch obstructing the way to smoothly joining and sharing our unique, personalized experiences. These can never be truly and fully known and are largely only statistically or superficially integrated.

High level group-think and over-arching, simplifying generalizations serve as weak starting points to inform our conversations, which prove to be only poor, distorted approximations to our perceived reality. We are left further ill disposed to discuss and reason concordantly.

Ultimately we reach the limits of the reductionist method and settle for one-sided special interest debate as a shadowy proxy for the true, unique, private meaning hidden deeply in our inmost souls.

But all is not lost.

What is necessary is that we accept the ultimate reduction, the basic, the truth, that we are all human, one race, one people, one family. Though separate, distinct, unique, and heterodox, we must also be united. Until we treat each other as we would be treated, we are lost and rudderless in a storm without quell.

This change must come from within, from each individual. It cannot be imposed or subjected, but it can be taught and learned by those who care. And for this to succeed, those who care the most will lead by example and share the simple truths of experience sans the trappings of special private interest, free of global political motivations, and unfettered by ego.

We need a better world. Let’s make it, one small step each, one person at a time.

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