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The Scum Gentry journal - An Alternative News Source
Editorial and Opinion Articles: Social Commentary Headlines.

Ad hominem, esquire: by Joseph Kaminski

Ad hominem, esquire:

Professional unprofessionalism in today’s methods of online interaction and the sociopolitical echo chamber of social media

With social media usage at an all-time high, the opinionative nature of mankind is now broadcasted across the world at the mere click of a button. Nowadays, just about anyone with access to technology can be heard by the entire world. People go ‘viral’ thanks in part to a hive-mind-styled, systematic internet. If something is mildly interesting, funny, or informative it has the potential to be blown out of proportion and shared on every medium imaginable. The marvelous technological advances witnessed through social media platforms and other aspects of the internet have allowed human connection to expand in ways that no man would have ever thought possible prior to the end of the 20th century.

I’ve been cynical of this sort of social advancement in the past, claiming that the world was going to refer to our time period as a ‘dark age’ due to the spread of misinformation, online censorship, and the misuse of resources presented to us. With infinite information at our fingertips, the majority of our world focuses on seven-second clips of stupidity, attention-seeking selfies, and (amazingly) cute cat videos. Put down the metaphorical pitchforks and hold off before clicking that nonexistent dislike button, though, for I have also been incredibly idealistic towards the idea of using the internet to record human history at a level that has not been accomplishable before our lifetimes.

The internet in all its glory has become an excellent resource to record the realities of mankind. From cultural bits of human movement (think ‘memes’ and photos of our food) to political and scientific advancements, comment histories and profile pages will ultimately become a digital archive of our lives. In fact, people born in the 1990s will likely be the last generation to not have their entire lives archived digitally in one way or another. People are starting to have their entire lives—from baby pictures to funeral obituaries—archived and published online for the entire world to see.

Unfortunately, the opinionative nature of humanity still clogs the internet. It, as an object, goes from being a handy and helpful tool to being a double-edged sword that can be ultimately misused and misinterpreted. Some conservative-leaning critics of the social movements happening during our time may say that there is a dangerous mix of entertainment and information—to the point where people are being Pavlov’d into being unable to be informed without being entertained. While I most certainly do not agree with such a perspective whole-heartedly, I must admit that the attention span of the online world as a whole certainly isn’t much longer than the viral videos it produces. From this comes the unfortunate headline reading and ‘type first, think never’ vomit-thinking that exists in every online community. From clickbait YouTube video comments that are published before the video is even finished to article links on Twitter that don’t make it past the argumentative headline, we’ve all been proprietors of this hyper-opinionative concept. Unfortunately, far too often it becomes an “I have an opinion without having any background knowledge” mentality that erases the social need to read before writing.

This what the majority of arguments and conversations underneath popular news articles and social media posts end up devolving into—people ignoring everything only to write what they think (for example, the infamous NPR’s 2014 April Fool’s prank Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?which still triggers ignorant comments en masse on social media every year) or people brutally deflecting from the point in order to appear professional. Unfortunately, such online professionalism is obtained in the most unprofessional way—through the misuse of information or, in many cases, the spread of misinformation.

Think of all those middle-aged mothers who post horrendously anti-vaccination photos that inflate their egos. Posting an intellectually-flawed meme and a paragraph of misinformation suddenly becomes more qualified than someone with years of study in a medical field. Think of all those flat-earthers who post crudely-Photoshopped images or falsified information with smug grins on their faces as they hit “send”. Posting a second-hand image hijacked from a 4chan thread or ‘woke’ Facebook group suddenly replaces years of experience in an astrophysics field. Think of all the people who misappropriate quotes or blindly post ignorant, incorrect information about history (for example, holocaust deniers, eugenic affiliates, supremacists of any kind) that suddenly believe they’re more qualified than someone with years of experience in a historical field.

The internet has swelled such communities through in-grouping, group theory, and the creation of a sociopolitical echo chamber. Websites like Twitter have created a block-based vacuum that had begun to seriously affect the intellectual effectiveness of the internet, and such behaviors have begun to bleed into the political landscape of the real world. Social media allows people to always be in the right even without the proper credentials or need for research.

The world is large, large enough to the point where there will always be someone who holds similar thoughts. Prior to the creation of the internet, people with weird, awkward, or just plain incorrect mindsets were separated as pockets and separated through differences in culture or geographic boundaries. Now, with the internet existing as a platform that can connect literally everybody, these pockets can create thriving communities that can be as loud or as relevant as they desire. Flat earthers can take over a comment section, MLM scams that peddle cures and health ‘alternatives’ can flourish on new prey, and other once-few-in-number pockets of thought loners can now feel strength in numbers.

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