I don’t know why, but I’ve chosen a cause that I believe in very strongly. I feel a constant and overwhelming compulsion to act with great abandon whenever it approaches the edges of my mind. I react, almost instinctually, with disgust and anger. I can’t help myself. It just seems to rip at the very core of my being. I simply cannot allow this abomination to continue.
I am, of course, talking about Facebook Ignorance.
It began, as most things do, with religion and politics. You see, someone out there realized that Social Media is made up of millions of people that will believe anything their friends tell them. Normally, trusting our friends and loved ones is fine. We respect their opinions and insights. That is why they are our friends and loved ones. The beauty of the internet is that we’re able to extend that circle of love and trust beyond a few miles and out into the global community. It is a wonderful, powerful experience. Like any good technology, though, the internet is a double edged sword.
Because we are able to expand our social circles beyond our local friends and family, we have extended our circles of influence and trust. We still have the natural tribal instinct to believe the people we’ve decided are friends, but we no longer truly know the friends we have. No place on the internet is this exemplified more than on Facebook. The entire platform was built so that one giant geek would be able to make friends with people that didn’t really know him. The Facebook culture is designed to get people to interact with anyone and everyone they might have had a passing contact with. I know a good dozen people that have hundreds, even thousands, of friends simply so that they can all play some Facebook game better.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m all for playing games with random strangers… well, I’m not, but that’s my issue. I can see how games bring people together, and that is enough for me.
What I am saying, is maybe “That Dude you Play Farmville With” isn’t a great source of information on Physics. Maybe, just maybe, “that woman that you’re pretty sure you’re related to even though you’re not sure how,” isn’t the best at giving advice on the political climate of Egypt. “Random Guy You Went to High School With” probably isn’t the best source of spiritual guidance. They might all also be experts in those fields. The thing is, you don’t actually know. You haven’t taken the time to get to know any of those people. You don’t know if they’re geniuses or… … … um…. not.
Our instincts tell us to trust the members of our tribe. We can clearly define our tribe through Facebook. To your mind, if it shows up on your Facebook timeline, you must have put it there. Your brain then thinks, “I can trust this. I’ve chosen to trust this.” Chances are, though, you don’t actually know if you can trust it or not.
Now for the real kicker:
You Usually Can’t Trust Anything on Facebook
I’m not accusing your FB friends of being dishonest, ignorant pricks. They’re victims as much as any of us. See, Facebook is a viral marketing orgy. Everything about the site is designed to exploit human psychology. It is created to mess with your brain and make you easier to manipulate. It works, too. It works on me. It works on you. It works on everyone. So, if you want to spread a false idea, and there are thousands of asshats out there that do, you just create something easily sharable and moderately believable. You stick it up on your Facebook page, and get a few people to share it. Pretty soon, through the pyramid power of the internet, you’ve spread a lie across all of humanity. The people spreading the lie trust the source they got it from, and in turn, the people getting it from them pass it on again. It is so easy to click “share” that it’s hard not to pass on something interesting or frightening.
I have 3 new, personal rule regarding these things:
- IF IT DOESN’T HAVE A LINK TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION, IT IS PROBABLY A LIE
- IF IT IS A LIE, I SHOULD LEARN THE TRUTH
- ONCE I LEARN THE TRUTH, I SHOULD SPREAD THE TRUTH
We live in a world where every possible bit of information is available at our fingertips. We have an unprecedented access to information and knowledge that is almost disgustingly gluttonous. What do we do with that ability? Nothing. We ignore it. 30 seconds to google a fact is too much work when clicking a button is so simple. So, here, in the heart of the information age, we worship and revel in ignorance.
Some people say that these things don’t matter. That no one cares if they get the right date for Back to the Future II or if you can’t actually make glowing Mountain Dew bottles. I care. It becomes habit forming to just agree and pass on. We get into a routine of just spreading ideas without spending the time to think them through, to analyze them. We are actively training ourselves to not think. We are actively making ourselves ignorant.
Ignorance is the heart of almost all fear. I think we’ve established how I feel about fear.
I don’t want to say it is the worst thing a person can do, but I think that it is the worst thing most people will do. I’d rather think that the majority of humanity would never murder or torture another human being. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand how easy it is to spread ignorance, even for someone with constant vigilance.
I might update later with a few more blatant Facebook Lies, but for now, I’m leaving you with this challenge:
Find Ignorance and snuff it out with Facts.
I dream of a world where truth, facts, and honesty are treasured enough that people put in effort to protect them.