The greatest thing about social media is the prevalent all-or-nothing thinking.

Microblogging was a mistake, a brain-rotting mistake

Everything was a mistake. All of it. And none of it was.

The ways it ruins everything are both on purpose, and not the fault of the social media themselves. Normal human social behaviour is already close to a crime against humanity. Social media just amped certain aspects while removing the factors that keep the whole thing from reaching a society collapsing nadir. And the main factor is the possibility of getting punched for talking shit.

@machado Haha yeah. Also the short format doesn't help as it leads to throwing punchlines instead of trying to formulate any articulate argument (no one wants to write a fifteen-parts reply, that I can understand). Over time any nuance disappears and many conversations have no goal other than making the other party give up and shut up. It's not about learning something or taking a different look at something, it's about having the last word and feeling safe in the idea that we "won the debate"

@machado The all-or-nothing thing stems from that, I think. Simplistic discourse beget simplistic thinking and a tendency to put everything and everyone in categories that are defined by a single trait. Once you're put in a category there's no chance you can be perceived as anything other than the archetype for that category.

Over the years I've been called a bourgeois and a stalinist, a bootlicker and a black block rioter, people seem to think of people as RPG character classes it's hilarious

@jkb On the short loud arguments, it's an exit cost thing. Online, leaving an annoying conversation costs nothing and is obviously superior to engaging in a neverending dumb debate. So getting people to leave becomes the optimal strategy. IRL, leaving usually has more consequences, and so do the strategies to make people leave. So being the first to play low gets you expelled from physical spaces, violently if necessary.

@jkb Online, you can get banned, but having multiple identities is trivial, so you can spam. IRL, if you get banned, you are banned. Yell loudly at strangers in a bar and see how the bouncers treat you.

On the categorization, it's worse online because you only see direct behaviour, not incidentals. We also do it offline, but we get more information beyond a persons words to build our categories. And we have to build categories that predict more than words, to prevent getting punched.

@machado I find it quite sad that so much is determined by the fear of getting punched (or its softer equivalent, the fear of losing face in public) Think of how things would be better if we all feared being wrong more than we feared losing face

@jkb The fear of losing face comes from the correlation between having face and having allies who will protect you from being punched in the face. If you can't protect your own face, your face isn't worth protecting by others.

Society and civilization where built in large part from mechanisms to reduce and contain violence. The threat of violence drives the maintenance of peace. It's entirely predictable that the lack of that threat would make the internet...unpeaceful.

Two fun exercises:
1- look at how many social norms in your social life exist because without them things descend into violence.

2- look at how a lot of anti-bullying interventions just make bullying worse, because they create loopholes for unpunishable misbehaviour.

@machado Indeed both of these are way more noticeable online than offline.

This reminds me of a Penny Arcade comic from back when they were mostly funny, that basically said "normal person + audience + anonymity = complete fuckwad", the online audience is way larger than the offline one, and offline anonymity is nearly impossible (unless you're in a context where you won't be recognised later, hello rude tourists).

Damn, this is bleak

Rude tourists still get punched in the face. In fact, they probably get punched in the face more than the average person.

Audience size just increases the rewards of some forms of "winning". Anonymity reduces consequences. Lack of consequences is the real problem. Which is why people are shitheads on facebook, where they aren't anonymous, but are outside punching range.

The key element of learning is rapid, unambiguous feedback. A punch is rapid and unambiguous. It's pedagogical.

I'm reminded of the barstool parable.

Two philosophers at the pub debate whether a barstool is real or not. They seem to reach an agreement, that the barstool can't be said to exist, as it is over 99% empty space, so the matter of the barstool is statistically irrelevant. Suddenly, an illuminated one approaches and throws the barstool at their heads.

"Real enough to make you duck, innit?"

Consequences are the only thing that matters. Without them, it's all just noise.

@machado OMG this is perfection, I hope I'll remember that

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