Today, we can get the news quickly and react just as quickly. We can thumb a few sentences and press send, immediately expressing our thoughts to thousands or perhaps millions of people around the world. This kind of power isn’t just available to celebrities and politicians. Anyone can post anything on a seemingly unlimited number of platforms.
In many ways, this is a welcome new reality. When a natural disaster strikes, relief and aid can be mobilized sooner. When there is a tragic death, online fundraisers can be created and money can be raised in mere hours. Missing persons can be located when millions of people spread the word. And, unlike previous generations when many voices were not part of a national conversation, the barrier to entry to speak, to write, and to mobilize are much lower. Movements can be created faster and more voices can be heard.
But the torrent of information coming at us combined with the ease of instant communication can also be damaging. And our instinct to be right, to be first, to be heard is one of the reasons we often make mistakes. Because we don’t wait before speaking, we allow confirmation bias and the Internet’s hive mind to keep us from wisely evaluating both what we are hearing and what we are communicating. Alan Jacobs says that our “instinct for consensus is magnified and intensified in our era because we deal daily with a wild torrent of what claims to be information but is often nonsense.”
We also don’t realize how much of this “nonsense” is a form of entertainment, an intoxicating theater of the absurd. Read more here: