Essays on Technology and Culture

Your Opinion or Your Life

In short, peer pressure is always terrible, and social media are a megaphone for peer pressure. And when you use that megaphone all the time you tend to forget that it’s possible to speak at a normal volume: thus my first protestor’s apparently genuinely-held view that if you’re not talking to peers on Twitter you can’t possibly be talking to peers at all. (We must all have been trapped in our silos of silence before 2006.) But the more general view of both of those who wrote to me — that rapidity of response is a virtue, and therefore that technologies that enable rapid response are superior to ones that enforce slowness — is the really pernicious one, I’ve come to believe.

— Alan Jacobs – “I’m Thinking It Over”

Social Media engenders a very specific kind of rapid discourse, where being first matters more than being correct, accurate, or humane. Jacobs’s list of alternate ways of thinking about stating an opinion online is essential, and worth thinking about. You are allowed to not state your opinion. You are even allowed to not have an opinion at all. It’s all valid. You don’t need to use the megaphone all the time.

And, yes, I am linking to The American Conservative. This is still worth your time, my fellow left-wingers.