Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

and the good news keeps rolling in

An unexpectedly quick confirmation of some of the points I made in this morning’s earlier post, and an aid to explaining why so many people just can’t grasp views that don’t fit their pigeonholes.  How Social Media Silences Debate:

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, according to a report published Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University. The researchers also found that those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissenting views in the offline world.

The Internet, it seems, is contributing to the polarization of America, as people surround themselves with people who think like them and hesitate to say anything different. The Internet companies magnify the effect, by tweaking their algorithms to show us more content from people who are similar to us.

All the more reason, I suppose, for people with non-standard or complex views to maintain their patience and charity and just keep on explaining themselves as many times as they need to. Or else give up and get out, which is certainly the more attractive option — if not the more morally admirable one. 


  • Intellectual renewal
    Founds itself on misconstrual;
    So, alas, does mere polemic
    Vomited by trolls bulemic.*

    'Tis a humbling, for the good,
    To be e'er misunderstood;
    Still, I wish this were the law:

    * You say bu-LEE-mic; I say bu-LEH-mic; you say a-NEE-mic; I say sys-TEH-mic; buleemic, bulehmic, anoemic, systemic, let's rhyme the whole thing half.

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