As I mentioned earlier this year, I have taken some rather prolonged breaks from social media and the Internet in general, happily giving in to my hermit instincts to retreat into my little cave and turn off the world as much as possible. Why? It’s just too noisy. So many opinions and messages zooming around in my head until I can hardly tell what I’m thinking myself anymore.
The constant bombardment of everyone shouting over the top of each other, determined to make their point of view known and convince everyone to agree with them, is overwhelming. The negativity, division, and outright hatred is overwhelming. While the Internet is a wonderful tool for communication and sharing information, it is also increasingly becoming a tool for propagating discontent, fear, and hate, and spreading misinformation (although this is hardly a new development).
So, at the end of 2016, here are a few things I’d like to see a little less of in the New Year:
- As always, hatred and discrimination towards others for their religion, appearance, race, sexual orientation, etc. ( It’ll never happen, but I can hope.)
- The increasing sense of ‘us vs. them’, the demonisation of the ‘other’ as a scapegoat for all problems, the decreasing empathy for others, and the corresponding rise in popularity of more extreme opinions and politicians.
- A lack of open mindedness, the supreme confidence that one is right, and the derision of all others that disagree as stupid morons.
- The frequently bemoaned despair at the amount of stupid people and the idiot ‘masses’. Unfortunately, we are all the ‘masses’, we are all idiots sometimes, and nobody is perfect. We are all affected by cognitive biases, and we are all subject to manipulation by social forces, mass media, and our own preconceptions. We are all human beings.
Image via http://www.izquotes.com
In the end, 2016 will not be the year I remember most for the large number of celebrity deaths (although we did lose many great icons), but the year a large portion of humanity seems to have forgotten how to have a civil, educated discussion and look beyond their own point of view. The year that so many people got so wrapped up in shouting that they forgot to listen.
2016 was the year I finally caved and turned to overly cutesy kitten and puppy videos – and spent way too much potentially productive time watching them : )
Here’s to 2017. May it be a little brighter, a little calmer, and a little more compassionate and open-minded than 2016.
Wishing you all a wonderful (retrospective) holiday season, and a happy new year.
P.S. Please forgive the clumsy title, it was the best my caffeine-deprived brain could manage. Also, the irony of adding yet another opinion to the cacophony is not lost on me : )