Hi, welcome to Word of Mike, my little corner of the internet. I am a Software/Web Developer working in North Yorkshire. I mainly write about programming but my other passion is politics so beware. (click to hide)

2012-03-23 20:14:33 UTC

Retweet This, or Perhaps Think for Yourself?

My theory on how Twitter and other fast media has lead to a decline in critical thinking in analysis of both important and trivial matters. Also how it has lead to a culture that unjustly demonises members of society while ensuring a protected status over others, all the while claiming moral superiority.

I would describe myself, in most ways, as a typical liberal. I am anti capital punishment, I support women who choose to have abortions, I am pro-euthanasia, I believe in a separate church and state, et cetera. I hold those views because I have thought long and hard about them all and arrived at those conclusions independently of one another, it just so happens that they fit quite neatly in to the liberal ideal. Every now and again I come to a conclusion which does not necessarily fit in, but because I have applied the same process of reasoning and the same values, I know that I am being consistent in my views.

This is in contrast with what I witness time and time again on Twitter. I am perhaps unreasonably highlighting Twitter but I will explain why I think it plays its part in a moment. I believe a large chunk of people forge opinions based on which they believe would be the most liberal-sounding standpoint. That is a case of favouring your preferred conclusion, rather than the right conclusion. This is fraught because it means that there are no foundations which tie together all of your beliefs, and this results in incredible hypocrisy. This is evident most transparently in the present hatred of the rich and wealthy — words that have of late become pejorative terms in themselves.

So-called liberals preach equality while condemning "grossly wealthy" people getting a tax-reduction to something nearer that of what everyone else pays. It is a monumental failure of logic to believe that equality means you no longer have poor people or rich people. Equality is simply ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities, as far as can be controlled, regardless of your gender, race, background, etc. It is the most politically inane and rhetorically base argument to say "instead of making rich people even richer, what about helping the poor people!", but it appeals to people without the capacity to think for themselves, because it sounds like a good idea.

Twitter encourages lack of scrutiny because people do not want to think for themselves. People like to form opinions quickly and instinctively without properly assessing the facts. Whoever makes whatever the latest scandal is sound the most scandalous, gets the most retweets and reaches the most people. Someone sees a tweet such as "Can't believe that Clarkson called for public sector workers to be shot in front of their families — digusting man!" and immediately they get to work telling the world how appalled they are too, over what was essentially a neither here, nor there joke. This of course highlights the liberal hypocrisy that is also rife on Twitter. People will happily make jokes (if you can call them that) about the death of Margaret Thatcher or George Osborne, because they are "fair game", they're the rodents, whereas the working class, ethnic minorities and Islam are the protected species, never to be criticised, let alone joked about.

The next time you are on Twitter and are outraged by something, take a step back, a deep breath and spend at least thirty seconds finding out more about it before retweeting or compiling your very own 140 characters of faux-fury, because honestly, no one can be that outraged over an ale called Top Totty.