The title of this piece came from a cartoon I saw (“Washintoon” by Mark Stamaty) during the Gulf War.
Back in 1991, the Internet was not a mainstream activity. Today it is, and for this war, everybody is doing just that, learning three (if even that) facts, and then screaming.
And do you know what? On the whole, it looks like a bunch of pro wrestlers debating philosophy. Nobody knows what the hell they are talking about, and they don’t even know it.
It’s a travesty of intellectual discussion. One side tosses out one factoid and three insults (that seems to be the typical mix), and the other side does the same. Maybe factoid two has something to do with factoid one, maybe it doesn’t, but nobody feels any need to respond to or even acknowledge the first person’s point. If somebody says something you can’t answer, just ignore it. Or just get more emotional about it.
Doesn’t anyone read up on a subject anymore before feeling qualified to talk about it? If you can’t do that, how about the notion that feelings have no place in this kind of discussion?
Unfortunately, they do, but since any bozo can have a website and put up any kind of nonsense, the more conspiratorial, the better, and it gets treated not only as being as good as say, the London Times, but better because it’s “alternative” or “different.”
Well, if I went to a mental institution, I’m sure I’d get a different read on the news, too, but that hardly makes it better. And some of what I’ve seen, and sent to me as “good stuff” didn’t fall too short of that.
What’s worse is that it is rare that somebody from the other side looks a little bit into some of the more nonsensical “facts” to see whether or not they hold any weight, or are even true. I’ve done that quite a bit, and more often than not, the facts are either flat out false, leave out any information inconvenient to the argument, or just warp a fact beyond all recognition.
And please, let’s not even mention looking into the logic of a particular piece.
What is really happening here is that people don’t know enough about the subject to be able to tell what’s good from what’s bad, so whatever they agree with becomes “good.”
The piece de resistance of these pieces is the sentiment, “Why is this true (or false)? Because I think so (or not).” No explanation, I guess none is necessary when the Master of the Personal Universe has spoken.
It would be one thing if a bunch of immature geeks who didn’t know better were doing this. The problem is, the whole world is doing this, whether online or not.
A long-commented upon reality of the Internet is that people expose more of their inner selves there than they would in more physical surroundings.
This is proving quite true here, too. Read enough comments, and you get a pretty good idea what people think and how much (or little) people think about a subject, and how much emotions have to do with it.
What’s scary is that the world is arguing about this, and not only is the argument no better than the typical AMD vs. Intel argument, it’s rather worse.
When people ask, “Why is the world such a mess?” I think this is the answer. This is how people normally react to things. This is how they process information. This is how they respond to those who don’t hold the same views they do.
This is the answer to that question.
Please, before you join the armies of chihuahuas yapping at each other, do better than that. Get yourself more informed, and by that I don’t mean read websites that agree with you. You might even, God forbid, pick up a book or two first, then talk.
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.