Jamie's Notes

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Social media, where human feeling goes to die

Neil Steinberg, reflecting on an angry Twitter exchange about cake, sums up most of the problems with social media:

I did notice something though. When I was being jerkily defensive, the Block Club folks leapt to thrust and parry. When I paused, reconsidered, realized I was in the wrong and sincerely apologized, they just shrugged and ghosted me. That’s social media, where human feeling goes to die. It’s like, if you’re not being snarky, they can’t hear you.


His introductory words are ‘this grew surprisingly unpleasant’ – which seems to accurately and succinctly sum up the whole Web 2.0 endeavour.

Narrowing of perspective

In relative peace and prosperity we settle into micromanaging our lives with our fancy technologies and custom interest rates and eleven different kinds of milk, and this leads to a certain inwardness, an unchecked narrowing of perspective, the vague expectation that even if we don’t earn them and nurture them the truly essential amenities will endure forever as they are. We trust that someone else is looking after the civil liberties shop, so we don’t have to. Our military might is unmatched and in any case the madness is at least an ocean away. And then all of a sudden we look up from ordering paper towels online to find ourselves delivered right into the madness. And we wonder: How did this happen?

Ezra Baker in Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday

I wish I had the guts

From Derek Sivers, back in March this year:

You are the way you are because of what you’ve experienced.

Your country, family, town, random circumstances, and friends shaped the way you think. If you grew up on the other side of the world, you would have a different set of values and thought patterns.

But if you keep experiencing the same things, your mind keeps its same patterns. Same input, same response. Your brain, which was once curious and growing, gets fixed into deep habits. Your values and opinions harden and resist change. If you don’t flex, you lose your flexibility.

You only really learn when you’re surprised. Unless you’re surprised, everything is fitting into your existing thought patterns. So to get smarter, you need to get surprised, think in new ways, and deeply understand different perspectives.

With effort, you could do this from the comforts of home. But the most effective way to shake things up is to move across the world. Pick a place that’s most unlike what you know, and go.

I wish I had the guts.

Read the full post on Derek’s blog.