Danger of Mob Tech Mentality

Following the herd off the cliff

History has proven over and over again that what the most people believe and do is not always the best, yet somehow we rate quality today by adoption, likes, faves, and (yes) applause. This is a dangerous reality of how humans think and behave and has failed us in ways as significant as dogmatic genocide or as trivial as VHS over Betamax. Before you go dissing me off as some old cranky guy (which I am) consider the top voted threads on Stack Exchange, Quora, Hacker News, and more.

Successful Disruptors are Punished but Persistent

On the one hand Silicon Valley worships disruption (often just for the sake of disruption itself), on the other, disruptive, contrarian opinions and suggestions are brutally punished on these forums. This creates a dynamic that pushes away the Charles Babbagges, DeWitt Clinton’s, Grace Hoppers, and Elon Musks of the world because they understand that the mob will never, ever understand, that all computers will work this way someday, that connecting the Atlantic ocean with the Great Lakes would create an economic superpower, that humans could speak to computers more naturally through a compiler, or that banks would eventually die out to online alternatives, that everyone would convert to electrical, and that space stuff could be monetized while changing the world. None of these disruptors really gave a shit what people thought. They knew if they focused and produced that everyone would eventually come around, and boy did they.

Do you think any of these people would have obsessed about their up-votes on Quora?

Learning to Ignore the Herd

When one head turns and another and another eventually enough constitute a democratic vote and the herd acts together. There is no validation that the new direction is safe, or that it is better than the current direction. Most of the herd never validates the data, they go with the rest. Yet the entire herd moves that way for some evolved reason. Since I am not a socio-biologist I won’t conjecture a reason or explanation, only say that this is stupid for humans to do. Thank God humans have evolved enough to have mutants among us who do prefer to focus, innovate and produce instead of looking at what everyone else is doing. Sure sometimes they get it wrong (like Depp’s Willy Wonka) but without them we would all cease to exist.

I Don’t Care

So no, Quora and Hacker Noon and Huffington Post. I do not care that you are now cross posting your most popular posts to all your services and proudly megaphoning about it. I have read most of your crap and usually only enough to realize this is yet another head turn of the flock. Like Starlings everyone’s head will turn again in 10 seconds. “Oooo, pretty.” You simply increased and consolidated the size of the flock. Why not add Hacker News and Reddit to it as well? Maybe then the greatest number of Reddit down votes on a video game will become an even greater “mainstream news” story.

For so many who do not even open this stuff (but have to sift through it) this makes little difference. They will still learn to identify individuals, influencers, true thinkers, and quietly follow and dialog with them while the herd froths at the mouth with Millennial FOMA. Sorry to break it to you. You will always be missing out, and that is just fine. Learn to accept it.

/me turns back to getting stuff done.