“Me? I couldn’t care less how other people choose to spend their time, so long as it’s not spent interfering with mine. You hear about this all the time: faceless individuals on the Internet making life difficult for so-and-so on some social network. But remember, those interactions are all playing out on a website. Participation in those dramas is entirely voluntary. Take for example this movement that started last year over a minor incident that exploded into a monstrous hate machine. Maybe for the participants, it’s real. But that’s because they've structured their reality in such a way. I’ve always believed that the perception of reality is fluid and mutable. Try to picture it like this: your sphere of influence, which remember is a two-way mechanism, floats in the ether alongside everyone else’s—like bubbles in space. Sometimes these bubbles intersect, leading to conflict, agreement, and everything in between. These intersections aren’t confined to just a one-on-one meeting of the minds. Depending on your positioning, you can overlap with an infinite number of other realities simultaneously.
“Consider sitting at a table with three others. One of them is a longtime friend who you trust and share ideas with—your bubbles mostly intersect. The second person, a stranger you've just met, leaves a negative impression. Your bubbles barely touch. The last person knows the stranger better than you know your friend and is somewhat familiar with you. Their bubbles overlap almost completely, while yours share just a sliver.
“Here’s the kicker, though: you’re free to move your little bubble any time you like. You’re under no obligation to share or lease any of your brain space with anyone else’s. It’s entirely voluntary. You can be in close physical proximity to someone, and yet be exclusive of their machinations. You want to try and tell me that a bunch of people playing mind games on some website are going to have any impact on my reality whatsoever? Do you really think I have that little control over my own sphere of influence? That’s ridiculous.
“If people are engaged in the kind of social warfare you describe, with a communication-limited social network as the battleground, then so be it. If they derive something from it, great. Maybe there are lessons to be learned. But they're spending their lives engaged in a fruitless battle, expending time and energy on transient, insignificant communication instead of building impactful things. They might argue they're changing the world, but this is likely to stave off the reality of their situation: they're engaged in pointless diversions that have no more impact on the world at large or the future history of humankind than sharing cat pictures.”
2015.03.24 – 2023.10.15