When a Twitter troll tries to retweet a sensational soundbite or hysterical headline from some media hack guess what pops up now? A friendly reminder that they’re about to share an article they haven’t even read yet.
Does that stop anyone from perpetuating nonsense they know nothing about to their social media echo chamber?
Does Twitter deserve some credit for at least trying to clean up its act?
Considering the role the company has played in turning public discourse into a cesspool of cancel culture, confirmation bias and groupthink, probably not.
Still, it wouldn’t be right to blame the fact that nobody can think for themselves anymore solely on @jack and company. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
There’s Zuck, Larry (Page) and, well, that’s a pretty good start right there. Throw in all the political, academic, entertainment and media elites and voila — I can feel myself getting smarter already.
Don’t get me wrong. Confirmation bias and groupthink didn’t start with the digital era. The bane of free thinkers has been around since the days of ancient Rome and medieval England, or those empires might still be here today.
More recently, I remember a tech conference during a 90s downturn where one famously outspoken CEO said, “Our industry is made up of geniuses that act collectively like idiots.”
But back then it took years, maybe decades, for a major sociopolitical trend to take hold. Today we have fearmongers decry crisis in the morning, reach every human with a phone by noon and get millions of retweets by dinner.
Next thing you know we’re all masked up, locked down, and declaring our white guilt and preferred pronouns.
Critical thinking in the form of the scientific method and jurisprudence have enabled modern civilization to reach incredible heights. There’s little doubt that the founding fathers would have made Socrates proud.
But make no mistake. It can all be undone in a heartbeat. All it takes is for smart people in power to act collectively like idiots — and for you and me to let them do it. And make no mistake, we are all acting less like thinking individuals and more like a dumb collective every day.