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Toxic Politics and Toxic Tech
2 months ago · · Politics,
I would like to write in about something I’ve been thinking about recently. I’ve been thinking about my own involvement in politics, increasing tribalism on both sides, and why that may be. Society has changed a lot over the past 20 years, and not just because of politics. New technology like social media has had untold effects on society, as yet not fully understood, both good and bad. Unprecedented consumption of digital content has increased even further due to the pandemic. I think it’s a good idea once in a while to take a step back and realize how addicting tech can be, and how different society would look without it.
People used to read about politics in the newspapers. Now it feels much more personal, as well as much more collective and less nuanced. Society looks up to “influencers” on social media, some of that good, a lot of it bad. People like Jordan Peterson have arguably changed millions of lives for the better through the medium of YouTube. At the same time, why have so many people sought him out? Because they lack figures like him in their offline lives. People spend more time interacting with their global faceless “communities” on social media, and it pacifies them and makes them less likely to seek out positive influences in their real lives. The Internet has made us complacent, hypersensitive, and globalized. Local communities aren’t as valued anymore, hanging out with friends in real life isn’t as valued, and forming nuanced opinions aren’t as valued. People used to form real, meaningful connections with their local communities. Nowadays people’s social networks are much more spread out, diluted, and inefficient. It’s easier to text than it is to call. Why is that? We should think about that more. Why do people on the Left admire AOC and Bernie Sanders so much, and people on the Right admire Trump so much? It’s not just because of politics. It’s also because they see inspiration in those people that they don’t get in their daily lives. We need to strengthen communities. We need to strengthen families. We need parents and families who provide warmth, care, inspiration, and value each other. Instead of identifying with and getting validation from extended, abstract political identities, we should be focusing on what unites us as communities. Tech is addicting, tech makes us all complacent and settle for what’s easy. Zoom is amazing and I love using it, but if we didn’t have Zoom people would make more effort to interact with their friends in more meaningful ways. Zoom is a fill-in, it’s settling for less and it causes people to undervalue reality. So much of the nuance of human communication cannot and never will occur over Zoom or VR or any tech. We need more kindness, humanity, and morality in the world. We need to get less caught up in political identities, country-wide communities, labels, racial identities, gender identities, and really any sort of identity except your own individual identity. We all need to be more than just our labels. We ought to be focusing on the needs of not our entire political group, but solely on the needs of ourselves. We need a return to individualism and a focus on mental health and kindness. Self-kindness is the only way to learn to be kind to each other.