I’ve repeatedly written about how Facebook and Twitter “likes” cultivate mob mentality, while also being the primary feedback loop retaining users addicted to the tiny doses of affirmation.
A macro-scale consequence of “likes” is that facts and logic have taken a back seat to popular opinion. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether something is true, but whether something has garnered a lot of “likes”. This is Twitter’s “Moments” section in a nutshell.
Not only are many of the Tweets hand-picked by the editors, they are frequently prefaced with “People are [feeling X]” with regards to a particular event, in a method of persuasion that tells the reader if you don’t also feel “X”, you are an outcast.
Eric Weinstein also adds that it is a form of emotive conjugation:
In rhetoric, Russell conjugation is the act of describing one’s own behavior more charitably than the behavior of others.
“Likes” have reduced debates to popularity contests. People can be brainwashed with a simple number. Every day people partake and see the results of dozens of unintentional polls and surveys once limited to the seldom census and phone call campaign. If you can manipulate these numbers, you can manipulate people’s opinions.
Using “like” bots, “subscribe” or “follow” bots, or even just outright hard-coding the “like” number to be much higher than it really is, you can get people to think how you want them to think. That simple “like” number shuts down people’s progressively shrinking region of the brain wired for critical thought.
The question that has evolved into a paradox: if people are thinking less for themselves, how do you reverse the destructive trend of social media if it seems the only way to do so is to get a tweet condemning social media on the “Moments” page with 1,000,000+ “likes”?
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