We were wrong before the internet, and we are still wrong.

I would like to enumerate some of the ways we are, have been, and will be wrong. Think back… In the middle of the 1980’s, there wasn’t a lot of connectivity to speak of. But it was plain even then that a sea change was coming. Remember modems, BBS systems, freeware, AOL, Compuserve, and so on? Large companies were becoming aware that they could sell excess computing capacity to hobbyists.

Immediately after that we invented spam, trolls, and flame wars, arguments so horrific they went on for days or weeks, predictably ending in accusations of holocaust and/or denial. We should have known this would happen.

1. First a word from xkcd :

2. We are so often wrong transparently, because we don’t really understand our own minds. We think we are reasonable, adult, somewhat intelligent people, but that doesn’t really matter. We are hard-wired to behave very differently when confronted. It’s called the backfire effect, and it existed long before the modes of communication we have today, which are both instant and permanent : The Backfire Effect

3. It isn’t surprising that we make sport of people that are wrong, because this can sometimes be entertaining (many gifs) : 37 spectacular failures

4. But for the most part we are victim to common fallacies that, while they make us feel intelligent, powerful, or righteous, actually do very little to improve our understanding or reach an agreeable conclusion. We are self-centered, combative, and delusional apes : Wrong more than you think

5. Which mean we are wrong so often that nearly everything we do is wrong : Everything you’re doing it wrong . Ok, that is an exaggeration. But we could point fingers less and listen more.

6. We need to pay more and better attention, and make an effort. The big players in this little world we’ve made are fully aware how wrong we are, and how often and easily we can be exploited : The internet with a human face

So be careful out there. Allow some time to pass before you fire off that angry e-mail, and remember your own brain may not be your friend.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Countdown.”

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3 Responses to We were wrong before the internet, and we are still wrong.

  1. I’m doing the laundry wrong? Nooo!

    (Sorry, that’s what I happen to be doing right now. 😉 )

    But sometimes it’s entertaining to watch people have a meltdown on the World Wide Web. And I don’t think many of us would blog if we didn’t have some strongly felt opinions. I hear what you’re saying, however. I’ve stopped adding my two bits in the comments sections of our local newspaper, because you get so many people who are just looking for a fight. They’ll say something horribly perverse or nasty (“Puppies are delicious, especially when barbecued”—that said in response to a story about a neighbor finding dead puppies thrown into her garbage cart), and then invite the wrath of otherwise kind, decent people. Trolls die when people ignore them, but try getting most folks to do that.

  2. Doug says:

    I confess to calling the letters page of the local newspaper a parade of idiots. Because I’m right.

  3. Laura says:

    Lol. Well said. This American life coined a new phrase for when you heard a bit of something about this thing somewhere so clearly now you’re an expert on the subject. “Modern jackass.”

    It’s fantastic. http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/293/a-little-bit-of-knowledge

    We all have our moments. :). It’s not that we’re all so terribly stupid, more that we like our bubbles. Life is far less scary or confusing if you just don’t ask questions..

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