Gerard Vanderleun

Way back in the olden thymes, I kept getting invitations from friends to join Facebook. I had no interest in joining Facebook, which made me a weirdo. Friends would ask me why I was holding out and I’d tell them “I’m just not that interesting.” I did not realize it, but I was subtly insulting my friends by breaking the unwritten rule of social media. That is, none of us are so interesting that we should be on social media. No one I know, except me apparently, can face up to the fact that their life is not all that interesting.

I finally relented for a while, but then I quit and no one noticed. The same is true with Twitter. I have two accounts. One for sports and one for this blog. I rarely tweet anything. When I do read the twitter (I love calling it “the twitter” for some reason), I mostly see strangers posting what they hear on TV or say on the Interwebs. It’s an echo chamber of snark and stupid.

A good example of the latter is Razib Khan, who is a super smart doctoral candidate in genomics and genetics. This is mighty tough material tackled by the very brightest people. On the twitter he comes off like a teenage girl with a bad attitude. The reason is he spends most of his time commenting about what twit-wits are tweeting. Dogs and flees.

I think there is merit to the wisdom of the crowds. I’m a human and humans are social animals. We take cues from those around us about what is and what is not acceptable and preferable. Restaurant reviews are the most obvious example. Bad reviews count for way more than good reviews, because we are wired to look for taboos and dangers. “I had a great burger” tells me nothing. “I found a rat in my soup” tells me everything.

Unlike many on my side of the fence, I’m not in favor of shuttering the TV stations and closing down the Interwebs. The young and the stupid need entertainments and it keeps them busy. We live in an age with lots of idle young men and idle young men get into trouble. Having them play video games and watch car chase movies is probably a good idea. It keeps them off the streets, at least for a little while. I’d rather have them on Facebook than on my street corner.

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