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The Rise of Ambiguity

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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07 July 2019 08:43
 

And another factor seems to be the decline in respect for expertise. Everyone has to be the smartest person in the room… on every friggin’ topic.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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07 July 2019 09:00
 
icehorse - 07 July 2019 08:43 AM

And another factor seems to be the decline in respect for expertise. Everyone has to be the smartest person in the room… on every friggin’ topic.

Yup. Also, intellectual patience. Think about it, anyone can read a competent article by an expert and compare their own ideas on the topic (or lack thereof because since when is there anything wrong with not knowing everything about a complicated issue). Instead of the fool’s errand of trying to be the smartest person in the room, you can do one better by just getting a couple steps closer to clarity on a very complicated issue. But I guess that’s not good enough - you’re right - they want instant gratification that they’re smart, too.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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07 July 2019 10:54
 
Jb8989 - 07 July 2019 09:00 AM
icehorse - 07 July 2019 08:43 AM

And another factor seems to be the decline in respect for expertise. Everyone has to be the smartest person in the room… on every friggin’ topic.

Yup. Also, intellectual patience. Think about it, anyone can read a competent article by an expert and compare their own ideas on the topic (or lack thereof because since when is there anything wrong with not knowing everything about a complicated issue). Instead of the fool’s errand of trying to be the smartest person in the room, you can do one better by just getting a couple steps closer to clarity on a very complicated issue. But I guess that’s not good enough - you’re right - they want instant gratification that they’re smart, too.

Yes, and sometimes it’s not even about being smart, but about being right.  For some people there is a distrust of intellectuals.  With no discomfort in basing opinions on their worries and fears; sometimes using their religion as justification.  And finding others on social media who share their views serves to confirm biases and mistakes, and perpetuate and spread more of the same.

Twenty years ago or so, I might have thought that any medium which provides people with a voice would be a good thing.  And sometimes it has been, e.g. connecting people of common interests who would never meet, bringing people together with a common goal.  But as with any advance/progress, there is usually a downside – Twitter often seems to fit into this category nicely – sound bites, catch phrases, misinformation, rudeness, etc.

 

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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07 July 2019 11:02
 
Jan_CAN - 07 July 2019 10:54 AM
Jb8989 - 07 July 2019 09:00 AM
icehorse - 07 July 2019 08:43 AM

And another factor seems to be the decline in respect for expertise. Everyone has to be the smartest person in the room… on every friggin’ topic.

Yup. Also, intellectual patience. Think about it, anyone can read a competent article by an expert and compare their own ideas on the topic (or lack thereof because since when is there anything wrong with not knowing everything about a complicated issue). Instead of the fool’s errand of trying to be the smartest person in the room, you can do one better by just getting a couple steps closer to clarity on a very complicated issue. But I guess that’s not good enough - you’re right - they want instant gratification that they’re smart, too.

Yes, and sometimes it’s not even about being smart, but about being right.  For some people there is a distrust of intellectuals.  With no discomfort in basing opinions on their worries and fears; sometimes using their religion as justification.  And finding others on social media who share their views serves to confirm biases and mistakes, and perpetuate and spread more of the same.

Twenty years ago or so, I might have thought that any medium which provides people with a voice would be a good thing.  And sometimes it has been, e.g. connecting people of common interests who would never meet, bringing people together with a common goal.  But as with any advance/progress, there is usually a downside – Twitter often seems to fit into this category nicely – sound bites, catch phrases, misinformation, rudeness, etc.

The relative anonymity of the internet is a great shield against consequence.

Though some people are finding out that public social posts on twitter and other platforms are resulting in consequences for their virtual-statements.  This is also a good and bad thing.  A life destroyed by a hasty or misunderstood tweet is a frightening side effect of the outrage mob.  That being said, sometimes people justifiably lose jobs or status for social faux pas.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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07 July 2019 11:37
 
Jefe - 07 July 2019 11:02 AM
Jan_CAN - 07 July 2019 10:54 AM

Yes, and sometimes it’s not even about being smart, but about being right.  For some people there is a distrust of intellectuals.  With no discomfort in basing opinions on their worries and fears; sometimes using their religion as justification.  And finding others on social media who share their views serves to confirm biases and mistakes, and perpetuate and spread more of the same.

Twenty years ago or so, I might have thought that any medium which provides people with a voice would be a good thing.  And sometimes it has been, e.g. connecting people of common interests who would never meet, bringing people together with a common goal.  But as with any advance/progress, there is usually a downside – Twitter often seems to fit into this category nicely – sound bites, catch phrases, misinformation, rudeness, etc.

The relative anonymity of the internet is a great shield against consequence.

Though some people are finding out that public social posts on twitter and other platforms are resulting in consequences for their virtual-statements.  This is also a good and bad thing.  A life destroyed by a hasty or misunderstood tweet is a frightening side effect of the outrage mob.  That being said, sometimes people justifiably lose jobs or status for social faux pas.

Yes, it’s a predicament – we need anonymity on the internet for personal safety and privacy, but it provides an environment without accountability, usually.  We certainly don’t need an outrage mob to control this, but there should at least be a better mechanism by moderators to immediately remove posts that are threatening, racist, obscene, diatribes.  And people need to understand that they are responsible for all that they say, no matter how and where it is said.

 

 
 
Garret
 
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Garret
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07 July 2019 16:49
 

I suspect part of the anonymity aspect is actually a problem in reverse.  It’s less that the person thinks that they are anonymous, and therefore free from the consequences of their actions, but rather that their target is dehumanized purely by the fact that they are represented only by words or a small avatar.  Being mean to an online persona doesn’t have the emotional impact on the aggressor as it would if it were happening in person.

There’s evidence for this as well.  It’s well documented that when we can watch a person in real time, if they experience pain our brain will literally simulate that pain and experience it as well.  If I see you kicked in the shin, my brain literally tries to approximate that feeling within my brain as well.  If I yell at you and see that it is having an emotional impact on you, my brain can register that as well.  If it’s just words on a screen though, that process isn’t happening.  A dehumanized, anonymous target is not one that solicits an emotional sympathy response within my brain.

I think the “I’m anonymous and therefore free from consequence” exists as well, just adding another factor to the interaction which IMO may be more prevalent, and still happens when people aren’t anonymous.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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07 July 2019 18:05
 
Garret - 07 July 2019 04:49 PM

I suspect part of the anonymity aspect is actually a problem in reverse.  It’s less that the person thinks that they are anonymous, and therefore free from the consequences of their actions, but rather that their target is dehumanized purely by the fact that they are represented only by words or a small avatar.  Being mean to an online persona doesn’t have the emotional impact on the aggressor as it would if it were happening in person.

There’s evidence for this as well.  It’s well documented that when we can watch a person in real time, if they experience pain our brain will literally simulate that pain and experience it as well.  If I see you kicked in the shin, my brain literally tries to approximate that feeling within my brain as well.  If I yell at you and see that it is having an emotional impact on you, my brain can register that as well.  If it’s just words on a screen though, that process isn’t happening.  A dehumanized, anonymous target is not one that solicits an emotional sympathy response within my brain.

I think the “I’m anonymous and therefore free from consequence” exists as well, just adding another factor to the interaction which IMO may be more prevalent, and still happens when people aren’t anonymous.

Sounds reasonable.  Less empathy for those not seen, less of a realization of the pain that can be caused, so therefore little or no regret for causing that pain.  But it also seems that one must be rather dense or self-absorbed to not realize the power our words have to hurt (or scare), even from a distance.  Perhaps we should all try to visualize the person, even vaguely, when addressing them; to consciously humanize the unseen person on the receiving end.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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08 July 2019 06:39
 

Excellent, Garret and Jan.

Here’s another possible cause, and I’ll use 1st-person mode for clarity:  When I sit at my desk typing out a frank reply to someone I’ve never met, my environment often attempts to cue me into speaking to this stranger in a style similar to the way I speak to family members in my household.

I have to work at not being intensely frank with strangers, and it could be that others are like me in this respect. On the other hand, family-style frankness is sometimes exactly what’s needed for a forum to thrive. I suppose it’s a matter of balance.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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08 July 2019 09:15
 
nonverbal - 08 July 2019 06:39 AM

Excellent, Garret and Jan.

Here’s another possible cause, and I’ll use 1st-person mode for clarity:  When I sit at my desk typing out a frank reply to someone I’ve never met, my environment often attempts to cue me into speaking to this stranger in a style similar to the way I speak to family members in my household.

I have to work at not being intensely frank with strangers, and it could be that others are like me in this respect. On the other hand, family-style frankness is sometimes exactly what’s needed for a forum to thrive. I suppose it’s a matter of balance.

Yeah, a balance is always good.  It seems likely that there are many who are like you (and me) and tend to be more frank with strangers online than we would be with strangers in ‘real life’.  It’s part of the attraction, to be able to express freely what one thinks, and to hear others’ opinions, like we can do with family.  Also, on a forum like this, strangers can start to feel kinda like friends.  Personally, if a face-to-face discussion with acquaintances becomes too heated, I have a tendency to want to smooth over or change the subject.

I think that this is where there is quite a distinction between a forum like this and one like Twitter.  Here we are often expected to back up what we say and are challenged if we go astray or haven’t given enough thought to our posts.  Although many posters have the ability (which I envy) to make complex points in only a sentence or two, follow-up questions and discussion usually helps avoid some of the ambiguity that the OP describes.  Twitter, on the other hand, is the perfect medium for ambiguity and posters who want to just vent or say anything that pops into their head without much thought or consideration of others.

 

 
 
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