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Darts Hurt ?

04/25/2022

When I agree with a Republican position, I often get complaints from Democratic readers.  When I agree with a Democratic position, I often get complaints from Republican readers.  The most vociferous complaint was a few years ago, when I wrote that social media was a “clear & present danger” to our democracy.  He even said I was too dumb to manage money, even for a 5-year-old.

My strong convictions on social media were confirmed when I read “Why the Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid” by Professor Jonathan Haidt of NYU in The Atlantic magazine.  (It can be found here:  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/ )

About 8-9 years ago, the Professor noticed that normally argumentative college students slowly became more quiet.  That was contemporaneous with the rise of social media, which he argues is not a digital global square, giving a soapbox to every single person, but a universal dart gun for anybody who can type.   Darts may not kill, but they do hurt.  The four groups inhabiting social media are right-wing fanatics, left-wing fanatics, Russian hackers and the trolls who shoot darts at everybody for everything.  Few people enjoy pointless criticism, especially young people.  When you criticize people for posting baby pics on social media, for example, you must be a troll.  The “cancel culture” was not a Democratic invention to silence Republicans.  It was invented by trolls with dart guns, which cause pain but don’t kill.   Even college students are being silenced by trolls.

He offers an interesting example from the Biblical story of “The Tower of Babel,” where mankind’s arrogant attempt to build a tower all-the-way to Heaven angered God, who punished mankind by eliminating  their common language.  The tower-builders lost the ability to communicate with each other.  Naturally, work stopped.  One can argue social media didn’t eliminate the ability to communicate, just the desire to communicate.  Darts hurt!  It’s easier to keep quiet . . . probably smarter too!  The political extremes, Russians & trolls communicate plenty!

The only thought I would add is that social media is just one type of media.  There are other types, like the print media and televised media.  However, before social media metastasized, the profit-seeking mass media was a tumor.  Social media just made it worse . . . much worse!

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