Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Horrible Signal to Noise Ratio

I’ve kinda checked out from Facebook. The atmosphere there is too dysfunctional for me now days. I think that most of the of the interactions through social media, especially in 2017 are either grandstanding, extreme calls to (in)action, or fishing for compliments. The current conversations in social media reveals how sheltered and reactionary our online discourse has become.

I think that there is a trend of people feeling that social media gives them a platform to shout their opinions or troll others, but I don’t see much that actually delves into the true thoughts and feelings of anyone. It is a group of people shouting, but no one is actually listening anymore. Even the ones that listen, are trying to listen through the din of everyone shouting -- trying to find a signal that is useful.

The internet tried to fix this by creating places for people to congregate and argue, but just as having bars doesn’t prevent public intoxication, content communities like redit don’t prevent public argumentativeness. The sites create places where you know drunk people will be, but they don’t prevent drunk people from being any place else. One of the interesting aspects of the content communities is that they can have moderation, and can attempt to stay on topic, but that doesn’t eliminate the drift, or the impact of a bad moderator. When I was young, in the early 90s, I used to troll people on Third Age. For those unaware, third age refers to retirement. There isn’t really a place for a 14 year old in that community, but I was damned sure Ayn Rand knew nothing about society or life, and I posted counter arguments constantly. I eventually got banned. It wasn't until years later that I realized that trolling them WAS living Ayn Rand's Objectivism, which I was so adamantly against.

There is no oversight or editorial boards for people publishing on Facebook and Wikipedia, which allows them to post any and every thought they have. Sadly, there are many people who think that because it is “published” online then it must be true. Then you have the comments section on news articles and social media. I am not sure why any comments on anything anymore. They seem to devolve into screaming matches between extremes, even when the topic is fairly benign. Everyone seems to be focused on being unprofessional and active, rather than being interesting or humble.

In a perfect world, there would be true, objective media in online communication, but with the ease of publishing, I don’t think it is feasible. The other thing preventing this would be how much more everyone seems to be in a bubble of media that reflects them, and does not allow outside ideas to intrude.