The world is burning. That may sound hyperbolic, but it is the only way to describe it. I don’t need to go into the details. We all know about the pandemics, massive wildfires, genocides and general desperation of a world overwhelmed by bad information.
Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of good information available out there. But, there is a lot bad information, too. People want answers and will choose the answer that confirms their own worldview. The propagandists feed on that. The propagandists depend on that.
This is only going to get worse. We have COVID-19 knocking on our doors. We have a vital election happening this year. The simple answer is, verify sources before you share that meme, quote or number.
I feel like we all need to quash these lies and half truths. Fight back against the propaganda. Will people listen, though? Sadly, I don’t think so. Confirmation bias is real and it can be exhausting to watch.
This is exactly what the purveyors of all this crap want. They don’t really care about true believers on either side. They want to tire you out. True believers amplify the lies and your timeline is filled with it. People who are less informed, for whatever reason, are being told that the truth is unknowable.
If the right says X and the left says Y, which one is true? Do you think people will dig into the data to decide for themselves? No, they are going to move on and like that funny video.
The unknowability of the truth turns people away into a state of apathy. Like I said, even though the truth is out there, most people either don’t care or have the time to figure it all out. I don’t blame them. I am exhausted, too.
So, I spent seven paragraphs railing against the problem. This is the majority of all the yelling on social media. Most of the yelling is for a person whose supporters believe will save them. Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to fix this mess we are in?
I hate to say this, but no one can fix this. Unless people turn away from tribalism and the distrust it causes, things will get worse. I know, I know, you are asking, how can it get worse?
The short answer is, I don’t know. Many people smarter than me are wrestling with this. My take is that we need to take care of ourselves. The tech companies aren’t going to do anything to stop staunch the flow of propaganda. As long as we are divided into red and blue, politicians will play on that and social media platforms will continue to take the money.
We need to take care of ourselves, our family, our community. The author David Gerrold once wrote in the first Chtorr book that sometimes you need to burn the bridge and hide. In this case, it was a global pandemic (sound familiar?) that drove the protagonist’s family to flee.
I am not suggesting we need to pull up the bridges, virtual or otherwise. I am saying, if you are tired, turn it off. Call a family member and just chat. Take a walk and enjoy the world when you can (or while you can). Start a new hobby. Make things. Your life can be defined by doing what you want. Not by the bots, propagandists and true believers.
Be informed, of course, but remember that everyone (everyone, even you) online has an agenda. Social media feeds a need for a sense of belonging. That need is exploited by feeding outrage to you and the people who believe the same as you.
Giving up social media is easier said than done. I still partake and let the whirlwind push my buttons. Tell yourself social media isn’t real life. Go out and make real human contact. Take care of yourself.