“It’s really going to hell, isn’t it?” she asked as she closed her laptop with a huff. I waited for her to continue.
“A person is well within their rights to choose to dislike something, sure. After all, liking or disliking is the most baseline binary expression a human being can make. It’s in how the reason for a given reaction is communicated that makes all the difference. Any animal can turn its nose up at something; even single-celled organisms know to move away from hazards. But as cognitive, sentient beings capable of conversation, it’s our greatest gift to be able to express ourselves in meaningful ways to make some sense of who we are and how we respond to the world around us.
“This brings me to why the last few weeks on the Internet have been so hard on me. There have been several flashpoints in my frame of reference: a pandemic scare, mass anonymous harassment campaigns, and ultra-violent media. In all cases I’ve noted a marked decline in critical thinking among the participants in discussions over these matters. Somewhere along the line, our modern systems of rapid-fire communication have somehow stunted people’s ability to use logic.
“More and more I see people content with two-word responses to things. ‘It sucks.’ ‘It’s cool.’ ‘Hate it.’ ‘Go die.’
“Worse is the mass-linking of anonymous ‘investigative’ journalism. People substituting their own opinions for edited images of what may or may not be the truth. People who, if you met them in person, you’d think would have minds of their own.
“Perhaps this is all part of some grand design to retard the communication of the upper echelons of society. Make no mistake, it’s the upper crust who are falling victim to this lack of thorough discourse. Folks with money and education, people with the wherewithal to navigate computers and social media. These are the people who are content to disuse their brains, to stop thinking for themselves, and instead of representing individual ideas informed by lifetimes of experience are acting as conduits for whoever—or whatever—is shouting the loudest.
“I weep for the future, and should I choose to fully disconnect from this burgeoning virtual reality it should come as no surprise to anyone.”
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