I love social media, this is true. I could bore you to tears for paragraphs on the good it performs in modern society, but I am increasingly becoming frustrated and concerned by one particular aspect of it that the last few week’s of news has intensified.
Let’s call it the ‘instant opinion’ problem.
Much has been said about the ‘quick fix’ aspect of the web but it cuts increasingly both ways. Speed is of the essence and when something significant happens we all feel we must Have Something To Say about it and preferably before anyone else.
This leads to several issues:
- The constant pressure to form an opinion on something within minutes of it happening (no matter how politically complex, personally distressing or just plain baffling) and project that opinion boldly to the world.
- The pressure, having done that, to stick to this opinion (even in light of new discoveries or change of heart) in case you seem a hypocrite.
- The fear that if you don’t offer an Instant Opinion you will appear shallow or foolish as you merrily tweet about your lunch or the new Ke$ha single instead.
What this leads to is everyone making a whole lot of noise about things they often don’t really understand. People have always had similar interactions - over dinner, across the water cooler - but in the past we had at least a little breathing space to gather ourselves. It concerns me that we are not only losing the desire (and ability) to consider, analize and chew over subjects but that doing so is in fact becoming almost stigmatised as a sign of a poor mind rather than an educated one.
I don’t have the answers to everything, so I plan not to pretend I do anymore!