Opinions, beliefs and convictions act like muscles; the more you train them by repetition, the stronger they get. And like muscles they get even stronger when challenged and tested by opposing forces.
image by johnhain - source: Pixabay
When we really believe something, when we're convinced that something is true (or not), it's very hard for someone else to change that belief. It becomes harder with time to: the longer you hold an opinion, the stronger it gets rooted in your soul. It becomes progressively harder to really maintain an "open mind". And when our beliefs are challenged, we close off our minds and instead of listening to the one trying to change our minds, we race through our own thoughts, trying to find arguments to fend off the brutal invasion of unwanted information.
As much as we claim to hear the other and to really consider their view on a certain topic, this is how our brains work: we all want to be confirmed in our own beliefs and we naturally surround ourselves with souls we find agreeable. And now I'm just talking about our real-world lives: this basic human trait and it's effects are largely exaggerated in online social media and I'm worried about what I see happening. It seems as if the technology that has made our planet a "global village", the internet that connected us all together in cyberspace, is now becoming responsible for some of the most polarized times humanity has aver seen.
Because it's the search algorithms of the big media, headed by Google and YouTube (same thing), that are encapsulating each and every one of us in our very own confirmation-bubble. There's almost no online discussion about popular topics where the extremes don't take the spotlight. And it doesn't really matter what the topic being discussed is. I've seen word-wars being waged over the new Star Wars films, The Jordan Peterson hype, Trump, identity politics, the economy, environmental issues real and fake, a feminist game reviewer who's name I can't remember right now...
It seems to become harder for people to engage in normal conversations without trying to completely dehumanize the ideological opponent. I'm certain that the search algorithms and their confirmation bubbles are for a large part responsible for that development. On the other side there's the apparent addiction to these popular social media. If you've never seen Simon Sinek's video on millennials, pleas do so now: he explains precisely how this addiction works, and the video is linked below this post.
The TLDR is that we get a dopamine-shot from our bodies when we receive confirmation in the form of likes, upvotes, follows, you know, the stuff we strive for on the online social platforms, even this one ;-). It makes us feel good about ourselves. It's this constant feed of dopamine that make these social media literally addictive. I guess I'm lucky to not have grown up in a world with internet and social media; I still think it's strange that on the train and in the bus most people are constantly engaging with their mobile phone instead of the person next to them.
And don't get me wrong here: I love all your upvotes, follows and comments, so please keep them coming ;-) It's just that I don't sit here waiting on them like I see so many of my younger peers do. As soon as their mobile beeps they grab for it and check if someone said "hi", or if they got a like on a picture they posted; they behave exactly like Sinek describes. What's scaring me is that this confirmation bubble induced polarization now seems to find it's way into the real world also. The culture war was mainly an online thing, but has expanded into the real world and real world politics. MAGA is a real world thing that Trump started, but was greatly amplified online, not in the least by the Great Leader himself, culminating in a real world disaster on 6 January.
And I've not even spoken yet about the profit-motivated urge to produce ever more extreme and angering headlines for the sole purpose of generating more clicks and more likes. And that all this is perfectly supported by the individualist-fundamentalism that's plagued all societies under late stage capitalism. Well... It's just something to think about. Right now I've things to do in the real world, with my real friends and family ;-) So, I'll leave you with this epic speech by Simon Sinek; please take 15 minutes of your life and listen to what he has to say, and take his words to heart...
This Is Why You Don't Succeed - Simon Sinek on The Millennial Generation
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