WTF is going on? Sensemaking in hyper weird times

TFW? Boing Boing Editors The Fuck What?

Why are you promoting these Intellectual Dark Web guys?

Are you trying to kill of the blog?

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That’s the appropriate reaction, really. This post is either incredibly naive about these pied pipers for the alt right or actively malicious.

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IMO it’s not so much “ignore” (the verb) as it is “ignorance” (the noun). And - not taking a poke, honest, just disagreeing - the notion that this is different in the modern world is also part and parcel of that very thing. Every age laments the lack of respect for/knowledge of what came before. Plato bitched about it nearly 2,500 years ago in the Phaedrus, wherein Socrates defends the superiority of face-to-face dialectic as compared to the newfangled practice of writing. To Socrates, words written with ink are “writ on water:” they are static, and cannot defend themselves, or further instruct the reader based on the current state of their understanding. Socrates does not trust written words as a means to obtain genuine knowledge. They can only serve to remind readers of that which they already know, and thus can only present the appearance of wisdom, not its actuality. Socrates predicts that because of this, future generations will “read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things,” but will be “for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with.”

Which pretty much describes the state of our modern internet-fueled discourse.

So I guess I’m considering your “perhaps,” and saying, “Nah, that’s not new.” I think what is different is rapid global communication. Humans haven’t really changed much for hundreds of thousands of years - we’ve accumulated history and stacked up bits of knowledge, all stored and processed by the same neurological machinery, including a 150-million-year-old limbic system that evolved to keep us safe from any and all perceived dangers. It used to be that if a few panicked idiots started burning and hanging their local herbalists as witches it took awhile for that mental construct to spread from town to town. Now such constructs can and do spread daily, by the hour. Plato couldn’t have imagined that the static nature of the written word would actually serve as a kind of firebreak against the hyperrapid spread of mental constructs and ideologies, or that the artful social dialectic of the agora would be replaced by a chaotic, 24-hour torrent of sophistry and rhetoric.

Perhaps the defining modern social difference, then, is “Same humans - now faster, and in bulk!”

tenor

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Youˋre quite right of course. I admit I thought of that as I wrote it but hey, who am I to break with tradition. And if it was good enough for Plato…

I think you’re right about the speed of transmission too - although I can’t resist pointing out that claiming that some new technology (such as writing, or perhaps, the internet) would cause/has caused terrible consequences ranging from cats and dogs living together (check) to plagues (check) and moral decay (two out of three ain’t bad) has an equally long pedigree. :slight_smile:

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