There are certain times of year, or for that matter certain years, when it’s just better to imagine a world where no one has access to social media, or talks possibly too.
It’s amazing how many soccer fans there are during the World Cup and swimming experts there are when the Summer Olympics come around. Everyone has an intimate relationship with music at the beginning of each season of American Idol and could be a multi-star Michelin chef during the Next Food Network Star. And then, there’s politics …
Or, well, not politics as much as during select times I find out whom of my friends are published economists whose works I’ve somehow overlooked, became millionaire CEOs of wildly successful multinational companies they built from the ground up by never told me about, or had a socio-philosophical handle on the subtle Christian subtext running through the founding of a secular nation.
I know more about the men’s soap opera otherwise known as the Jets, or maybe it was the Red Sox, or perhaps it was in NASCAR when people take to their keyboards and these are the same people ‘teaching’ me about the complexity of the international military-industrial complex and it’s historical effects on Big Agra and how the diverse historical cultural definition of what defines a family should be interpreted through a narrow lenses of convenient nostalgia based on their own family’s convoluted past.
I know more about what fashion faux-pas appear on the red carpet and the latest TMZ flaunted headline and what the hippest yoga position is coming from the same people who wish to teach me the physiology of the female human anatomy and how the complexity of economics, finance and accounting converge in a multidimensional construct of overlapping multinational public and private sector principles that span over a century in development based on their own exceptional checkbook keeping.
folks don’t like to have somebody around knowing more than they do. – harper lee
Not to discount their knowledge but I get the feeling their expertise is based more on a fleeting set of emotions in reaction to a sound-byte and not from an actual intimate knowledge about any one of the things they are commenting on, being none of them ever built a race car or played on a professional sports club or studied PHD level science or earned a juris doctorate in Constitutional Law. Simply having taking Sunday School classes doesn’t make you a theologian any more than having sung in the shower makes you a conservatory trained musician.
I’m not immune to episodes of asininity online, as like everyone, I occasionally get diarrhea of the mouth, err, keyboard … but I’m also fortunate to know enough about my limited understanding of certain things to restrict my commenting and use much of the conversation as an opportunity to open my mind and research more. I take my research off-line too, because the modern filtered version of “search” isn’t necessarily the mind-opening excursion of unlimited information as algorithms work every harder to narrow information overload they also provide bubbled filters that restrict the necessary “opposing views” that create educational balance and dilute historical reality with the inevitable conspiracy theory skew.
The inherent problem with social media is it gave everyone a voice and everyone chose to use that voice … it provided an illusion of authority where none existed … it created the ultimate “telephone game” – you remember that from your youth right? You do remember talking on telephone don’t you?
If everyone really were an expert on all of those things Pep Boys wouldn’t have a business because we’d not only all be changing our oil effortlessly and the government wouldn’t have to mandate car companies to have minimum millage standards because we’d all have figured out how to trick out our cars to optimize for that in the wake of even just normally inflated gas prices … and certainly, there wouldn’t have been a financial collapse as a large number of mortgages went underwater because the borrowers wouldn’t have become overextended since they only purchased the house space they needed and not what the home builders and realtors convinced them was the “American Dream” … and we’d never have to watch the failures on American Idol because we’d all be blessed with the determination of hard working musicians and artists who took advantage of honing their interest in the arts at a young age and worked at creating their career against the odds of acceptable socially acceptable jobs rather than hoping to have it handed to them via a TV show.
No, we expect our half-assed opinion is somehow more knowledgeable than those who spent their lives getting to the the point of assumed expertise. We can all compose better than Tchaikovsky or cook better than Lagassee or coach like Lombardi, shoot better than Jordan or call their shot better than the Babe, crack jokes better than Greoning or understand physics better than Hawking. Or, we thing so in our own diluted minds in the same way we could have managed the country better than Roosevelt’s or Churchill’s guidance through the Great Depression and the Great War or Lincoln’s handling of the Recession and Cession and subsequent Civil War of Civil Liberty in the same way we think we’re as diversely understanding as Ben Franklin or Divinci or Galeao. Truth is, we can’t know all that, most of us will never be given even remotely the opportunity to and all of our posturing and politricking [sic] to get there will still never provide us with that, even though we like to pretend in our own little microcosm of the world we know.
We don’t though, and that desperate illusion aspiring to such a place is our ultimate downfall, not just as individuals in our own lives but as a functioning society as a whole. We don’t know it all and we cannot replace our doctor’s diagnosis with a website or our better judgement with crowd sourcing or our ability to play guitar with being able to match patterns on guitar hero and so on … yet, every day I’m inundated with people who nonchalantly believe just that, and that’s the reason why fewer and fewer friends make up my daily online routine, because they’ve lost sight of why I aspired to follow them and respected them as people (the things that actually made them special, not the false knowledge they wish they had)