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On Trash Talking, Shitposting, and Fixing Social Media

Journal Entry (Wednesday November 2, 2022)

I date myself using the term “Trash Talking.” No one trash talks any more, now we “Shitpost.” Viewed in the light of modern social media, this was inevitable, but there is a big problem with this. To trash talk someone typically implied you were likely doing it to their face. This gave the recipient a chance to rebut. Now trash talking has become shitposting and the recipient, or target, has no platform on which to reach the reader of the shitpost, at least not one that readers take the time to investigate. To make matters even worse, the typical shitpost is viewed by a much wider audience today than trash talk was a decade ago. The audience can be world-wide. To make matters even worse still, it seems that a large part of our population is not capable of sorting out fact from fiction. Not to mention the problem that there are media types today apologizing for behavior that a decade ago would have been recognized as intolerable, even by the most depraved psychopathic killer.

One approach to solving this would be to ensure that everyone receives a quality education. An education that teaches everyone to be a critical thinker, to research every opinion before taking it to heart, hell, to recognize what an opinion looks like. This is probably a stretch goal. Besides that, another huge problem is the lack of restraint exercised by thought leaders that should know better. (If they had been given a quality education? Some have, and that’s an even bigger puzzle.) Sharing fiction expressly designed to influence those NOT so well educated, shouldn’t be tolerated, but of course, it is.

How do we fix a technology that allows and perpetuates shitposting? I think it can be done, but I have to qualify this by saying Zuckerberg and Musk have no motivation or intention to entertain any idea designed to make their platforms safer for society. The proposal goes something like this: Before any thought can be placed in the ether, a respondent should be named. The respondent should be given an opportunity to counter the claim/statement before it goes “live.” The platform would manage the “posters” and “respondents” such that they both have similar “expertise/experience” making the dialogue at least somewhat responsible. I realize this would make social media “less fun,” but it might encourage people to become more tolerant in the long run, and perhaps even help people to obtain that noble educational goal of learning to be a critical thinker. It’s worth a try.

There’s no reason why something similar to this couldn’t be done for the broadcast media, but since social media and broadcast media are both “for profit” endeavors, I don’t give this idea much of a chance. It’s too bad, it could work in a world were people cared about their future and their children’s future.

Albert Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

That is true. So rather than take my suggestion as a possible solution, likely to fail, it might be better to solve this another way. I just don’t know what that other way looks like. One thing I feel strongly about is that siloed information stacks that are each biased in their own way will only serve to divide us.