View Full Version : Opinions Are Viral

05-15-2012, 10:46 AM
If you're on any kind of social networking (or even if you aren't), it's pretty obvious that people spend more time reblogging other peoples' opinions than they do sharing their own. A single picture or statement could have thousands of shares and a million likes, all in mindless agreement.

Is it healthy for critical thinking to promote this kind of thing? It's pretty much the crux of Tumblr and Facebook. Letting other people speak for you, or thoughtlessly conceding to the opinions of others, is frowned upon when it comes to things like media and political influence. But yet it's become such a norm for people to do just that regarding a random Tumblr post, Youtube video, Tweet or Facebook status. What's up with that?

05-15-2012, 12:00 PM
The new generation is a large herd of fast moving, technologically advanced, sheep. So I mean, it's safe to say that with things in the internet/information age going so fast, people have just gotten a biiiiiitt lazy (understatement) with stuff, and start agreeing with the closest thing that already exists that also reflects their opinions.

But we all do that, right?

05-15-2012, 04:40 PM
Well, then you get posts like these:

‎Garrett brought up a good point awhile ago that I've been thinking about: why is there such a negative social stigma, particularly among teens and young adults, attached to being good?

Is good rejected for the sake of fun? If so, there are literally billions of ways to have fun without being bad, so to speak.

Is it rejected "fur teh lulz?" I'm unable to argue this point, because most people who take this stance generally don't have a logically justifiable reason in the first place.

I think part of the reason for the increase in legally or morally questionable activities may be due to the punishments for said activities getting to a point nearing non-existence. For many people, there are no negative consequences in the foreseeable future for any sort of questionable activity. There are consequences, though, and that's why most older people don't do stupid things.

Before I'm inundated with examples of older people doing stupid things, please know that they are most likely the exception, not the rule. Either that or they work for the government, like Lamar Smith.

"Bad" is also glorified by nearly all popular media these days. Songs about getting drunk and having sex, movies about stupid adults who want to crush partying teens' fun--it's all inaccurate and horribly misguided. Cops are 100% of the time the bad guys or on-the-edge good guys. Parents are the same way.

Basically what I'm saying is that you should listen to your parents, not have underage sex, respect your teachers, and all that other goody two-shoes stuff that 90% of you don't want to hear, especially from someone your own age.

I feel like I'm treading the surface of a much deeper issue here. Something about celebrity worship and generation decay. I'll have to study up on that and make a post later.
With one or two likes and posts like these:

took a crap lol
With fifty.

And then there's these:


Though on a more related topic, yes, people do agree with things too fast these days. Like they don't even bother to do research of their own. Actually, that first quote is pretty relevant to the topic.

05-15-2012, 06:26 PM
^ In my opinion, the person quoted is talking shit. With a holier-than-thou attitude!

People are not motivated to act out by what they see on TV or what they see celebrities do. To insinuate they are is quite patronising, since it characterises people as mindless automata who are controlled by the media. Without a solid motivation for doing something illegal or 'immoral', they wouldn't do it. Most of the things the poster characterised as 'bad' are a healthy part of maturation. Underage and/or premarital sex has happened since the dawn of time, it's not about to stop now, and insinuating it's caused by the media is absurd. For christ's sake, haven't they heard of Romeo and Juliet? Even in medieval times, young noblemen would get obscenely drunk, disobey their parents, fight each other to the death over women, etc.

Disobedience and questioning of authority figures and the law are likewise healthy parts of maturing. If one obeys all the time, then one is made into a machine designed to serve those authority figures. Authority figures (in my anarchist opinion) should always be questioned, since they derive their power from what we allow them to have. If we don't question authority, it can do whatever it likes without being held in check. Remember too that questioning authority is not necessarily disobeying authority. You might agree with the authority on one point or another.

Part of growing up is realising that it's okay to disobey one's parents if they're talking shit, and realising that they're fallible people just like everyone else. The poster seems to cling to the view that parents are perfect and omnipotent, which is equally or more childish than the behaviour he's railing against. That they promote discipline as the 'answer' to these 'problems' is another good signifier of their simplistic view of the world. "Punish bad people, they won't do bad things." This view is wrongheaded and ignores the real causes of youth delinquency while scapegoating various common targets - the media, etc. The poster seems to have imbibed right-wing politicians' words and swallowed deeply.


More generally, I don't think social networking has made people less critical. I think the way our lives are structured and the norms we're socialised into makes people uncritical, and social networking just makes it more obvious than ever before. Trends, consumerism, left wing, right wing, center, liberalism, authoritarianism, any -ism makes people conform and belong to a community, and in doing so murder their autonomy. Which almost everyone wants. In Aristotle's words: "...he who is unable to live in society... must be either a beast or a god." To what extent do we sacrifice our individuality, critical thinking, reasoning, etc. to 'belong'?

I believe in people, not ideas. I believe that our infatuation with groups and ideologies and class divisions and economics and youth crime and politics and capitalism and consumerism makes us fail to empathise with others. 99% of society is based on bullshit designed to maintain the status quo in one way or another, and I don't mean that in a Marxist way, more a post-structuralist way. We should look at people, not general behaviour or groups or ideas or averages or statistics. All we need to do to understand why people will thoughtlessly agree with ideas is take a long hard critical look at how we ourselves behave, and for God's sake empathise instead of demonising them as 'dumb kids'. In the words of Ferris Bueller (oh yeah): "Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself."

05-15-2012, 06:47 PM
More generally, I don't think social networking has made people less critical. I think the way our lives are structured and the norms we're socialised into makes people uncritical, and social networking just makes it more obvious than ever before.
This, this, this forever. because yeah, Tumblr is the most popular social media aggregate known to man (dat reblog), but like with Facebook and any other social media form, you don't have to follow/friend/whatever mindless people. Through my social media experience (largely due to the things that I choose to follow), I have learned to be more critical—not less.

Obviously not everyone is cut out to strategize properly, or even is in the right place to even start looking for things that help them become more critical or learn media literacy (middle schoolers on Myspace). But eh, like Del said, it's a reflection of what our offline society is like, too.

Opinion: In a world composed of mostly opinions, kids should have a media literacy class in school. I've seen some good media documentaries recently that I think more people should be aware of.

05-15-2012, 08:26 PM
Social networking is like hichschool on steroids. In highschool everyone wants to fit in and be like everyone else so the same will come with FB MySpace twitter and all the other "hangouts" of the internet. Its not "cool" to go against popular opinion and to add to that opinion makes you look like you are trying to hard to be cool. I support being uncool.

05-15-2012, 08:28 PM
So we are hipsters.

05-15-2012, 08:30 PM
if its fun.

05-15-2012, 10:35 PM
Social networking is really nothing compared to simple advertising. Though I guess you could argue social networking is just the newest medium of advertising.

05-15-2012, 11:01 PM
Except advertising can be understood as someone directly trying to influence your opinions. Social networking, on the other hand, is comprised entirely of unknown people throwing random thoughts into the fray. Yet others subscribe to them as if they were advertising. A TV ad, for example, is engineered by marketing gurus to target and exploit a specific niche of people (if not people in general). On the other hand, a Facebook status, tweet, or Youtube video really doesn't mean anything. Yet even without the intent of influence, people still subscribe to them mindlessly. In the case of social networking, people basically impose conformity upon themselves.

And yeah, Delphinus, that's a good point. It just seems very strange for a generation that is very up-in-arms about conformist mentality and ideological uniformity to still be doing the same bullshit they condemn, just on a different level.

05-15-2012, 11:21 PM
Um Im not denying the memetic power of social networking but advertising shapes nearly everything in our lives. Like why does anyone give a shit if coke is better than pepsi when they taste nothing alike. And even when you rebel against the adverts somebody profits over it.

But you know what we don't even need to talk about that.

What your thread is railing against is just circlejerks isn't it. The amount of "echoes" an echo chamber produces is just that much more now that you can agree with a single click. Of course it's not healthy for critical thinking. Did you expect anyone to disagree there?

05-16-2012, 12:08 AM
IMO, I think the social networking thing poses a bigger threat than advertising in the long run, mostly because people don't see it as a threat. Whereas it's been a common notion that the mass media is total shit for how many years, people are generally not vilifying the people on the internet they subscribe to. They don't see them as a threat, despite the fact that social networking is influencing them in very similar ways to the mass media. IMO, it's even worse in the sense that, unlike advertising, nobody is "convincing" these people to think a certain way. They are simply giving up their individuality on their own.

05-16-2012, 12:15 AM
Yeah dont worry about that lets talk about the second half of my post

05-16-2012, 12:19 AM
Actually, I did expect people to disagree because the large majority of people I have on my social networks do it. Figured the chances of me finding someone who does it would be higher than they seem to be, and that they might have a reason to defend it.

05-16-2012, 12:25 AM
But you don't agree that what you are essentially describing is a massive circlejerk?

05-16-2012, 12:27 AM
Not necessarily a circle jerk. Rarely do the people who agree to the point in question acknowledge each other. they basically just take the original post and say "this is my opinion, out of someone else's mouth". It's less of a circle jerk than it is just plain speaking in quotes.

05-16-2012, 12:30 AM
Its the same thing really. If everyone agrees, the echo spread farther and farther out and nobody is challenged because they wouldnt subscribe or friend people who would challenge that belief. That's circlejerking to the core just that social networking as made our arms much much longer.

05-16-2012, 12:38 AM
I guess if that's how you'd define it. And you know it wouldn't even bother me so much if people just said it in their own words. In other words, staked claims to their own verbage when stating their opinions. IMO, there is more value in an individual statement of one's opinion as opposed to a re-blogging of someone else's. At least then, you own the words and people can attribute that statement to you because it came from your own mouth. If you own neither the words or the statement I don't even see the point in passing it as an opinion.

05-16-2012, 12:46 AM
So you feel it is like intellectual plagiarism or something along those lines

05-16-2012, 01:11 AM
Not plagiarism in the sense that I feel the person responsible is being dishonest or should be punished for it. Just that the person isn't putting more of themselves into the statement, but rather letting someone else speak entirely for them. You should at least own one part of your "personal" opinions, even if it's just the words you phrased them in.

05-16-2012, 01:13 AM
So a person can't simply say they agree?

05-16-2012, 01:17 AM
I don't think "I agree" is a particularly enriching response for either side of the debate. It doesn't help any kind of debate to simply say "I agree" or "I disagree" and walk off. Those types of people are the ones with picket signs flying catchy slogans who don't actually know what they mean.

05-16-2012, 01:18 AM
What if the goal isn't to further the discussion but simply spread what you find to be a profound statement to other people.

05-16-2012, 01:23 AM
If there is no explanation of the profundity of the statement, then I'd say you're not doing enough towards that goal. Rarely is anything self-explanatory. That's just leaving ideas about and expecting people to agree.

05-16-2012, 01:25 AM
I don't see how it's any different than lending somebody a book you like except instead of saying "i like this book u should read it" its simply implied.

05-16-2012, 01:28 AM
i wouldn't take anyone seriously if they just told me "I like this book you should read it". Reading is a huge time and attention investment and if someone is just gonna hand me a book and expect me to read it under the reasoning that "I like it", I'd have to say "bitch, please".

05-16-2012, 01:29 AM
What the hell is reading like for you

05-16-2012, 01:37 AM
It's tedious, if anything. I stare at the page and fall asleep.

I guess a more relevant example would be a movie. I'm sure a sensible person would try to at least read one thorough review of a movie before they sink 10 bucks and 2 hours (excluding commute times) to see it. Going on "I like it" would be like seeing a movie just because it's rated highly on a scale of 1-10. Amelie is a movie that scores an 8.5/10 on IMDb, but I hated that movie. I didn't see what other people saw in it. Sadly I had to sit through it anyway because I watched it by recommendation.

05-16-2012, 01:40 AM
I find it odd that you find discovering things you don't like a generally bad experience.

05-16-2012, 01:42 AM
I find it odd that you would prefer to waste time doing something you might not like instead of being told about it ahead of time.

05-16-2012, 01:46 AM
Just like I learn from losing games I learn from experiencing stuff I hate. Also there are lots of times I chose to not read/play/watch something based on people telling me not to and found out I actually liked it a lot.

05-16-2012, 01:49 AM
Deadly Premonition?

Naw, but seriously. I guess you and I have different methods of learning. I guess that should have been obvious enough what with the whole MvC3 debate.

05-21-2012, 12:24 PM
Oh god I could just say 'I agree' to jubeh's posts! :P

But yeah, social media for me is not just expressing opinions, but also sharing information and thoughts. Interesting links to articles, news, pictures/videos/creations etc. Besides, what you take from a particular item (article, blogpost, video, anything) can be very different from what the other person takes from it. Also, simply 'liking' and 'sharing' (facebook) or re-tweeting and all that do have some significance. The more responses (in the form of comments, likes and shares) a particular item gets, the more it shows up on someone's timeline, or in general the internet. That way, that article reaches more people, and there's a high chance it is worthwhile for most people judging on the response it gathered.

That's at least how I use the social network. I follow people..things...that have same interests as I do (maybe differing opinions), I get info from them. Anything that impresses/impacts me, I share with the appropriate circle (facebook/twitter/whatever).