Some time ago I managed to click with an excessively good-looking woman. She wanted to go to a classier bar than my usual repertoire and insisted I dress for the occasion. The idea was to sip on some fine whiskey by a fireplace, discussing philosophy and politics.
I suited up, moisturized, combed my hair, and went on my way eager for the evening. The lovely creature that greeted me was gorgeous; she must have spent hours in preparation. We ordered some drinks and sat down. Sadly, the conversation never came. She spent the entire time, hours, in fact, trying to take the perfect selfie of us with the correct filter on her iPhone to show that we were having a good time.
Rather than an actual good-time, she wanted the image of her having a good time. It wasn’t me she wanted to socialize with, it was Facebook and Instagram. I think cataloging our adventures is worthy activity, but to the point of missing the adventure then the catalog becomes a lie – a fanciful description of nothing at all.
Facebook thrives on addiction. It uses algorithms geared to a dopamine effect. It’s a similar principle to gambling, with its random positive psychological reinforcement causing a dopamine effect. People get addicted to it because of the occasional (slight) win. No one would continue to play without it. It gives the hope of a larger payout, the illusion of potential financial success when in reality the poor addict is having their finances drained. They’re drifting to the opposite end of their hope.
The dopamine behind the occasional like on Instagram and Facebook gives the illusion of socialization and more open communication but the reality is that we’re drifting toward the opposite. We are becoming socially bankrupt.
I recently suffered a Facebook ban.
Censorship within the world, in general, is becoming dire. Alex Jones was recently divested from social media, Milo Yiannopoulos had his Twitter account removed, and although I believe it’s fair to say these are two problematic individuals, the desire for censorship is far more problematic.
If a particular group is shielded from criticism, it’s a major issue. Muscles only gain strength through resistance, our minds only expand by overcoming problems it doesn’t know the solution to, and our souls are empowered through hardships.
The way up is down.
If a particular group doesn’t experience criticism the slightest bit of it can lead to a spiritual disposition so jostled that it causes calamity for the individual criticized and their reactions can be harsh totalitarianism in nature. The dialectic, the interplay of ideas through criticism is what allows our ideas to become stronger.
The problem has been labeled a sealed-off discourse. I and my fellow Christians have noticed this within our own circles, there is a tendency to make certain theological assumptions (sometimes extremely weak assumptions), we then congregate with others who share our views, and when we encounter someone who doesn’t share those assumptions we view the outsider with maximal suspicion.
For feminists, so much as even encountering someone who doesn’t share their view of the wage gap can be a triggering experience. A Trump supporter who encounters someone who doesn’t share their views on immigration restriction isn’t likely to maintain their composure.
Facebook, by virtue of hyper-accelerating the congregating, has hyper-accelerated extremism. Facebook, by not only setting up a platform that encourages ideological segregation and therefore a lack of criticism, but through censorship, has enshrined yet further coddling of ideologies.
Herein lies the drift, not only away from socializing but from information and ideological growth itself. As our socialization is hollowed out and emptied so too is our information processing capacity. That which fits the narrative of Facebook directors is that which gets propagated.
The casino gambler winds up bankrupt, the selfie girl didn’t get another date, the news consumer on social media isn’t likely to offer meaningful political commentary as the commentary is programmed into them and widely available elsewhere.
The technological leap forward is the intellectual leap backward. Resistance breeds strength, the way up is down, but the way forward can sometimes mean the way backward.
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