Web Miscellany: Compilation #107

Hello friends!

Happy Friday! I hope the week has been good to you. If you haven’t had the chance, I invite you to check out my latest post on The Heart of The Matter.

I’ll be attending a board game day on Saturday, and then my book club meeting on Sunday. We’ll be discussing Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and finalizing our book choices for 2023. There are some great options, so I can’t to see what we choose!

Hope your week to come is a good one!


Food for thought

“The more credible threat posed by dramageddon is much simpler than civil war: it is, to put it frankly, turning our brains to shit. By presenting us with a pantomime of reality performed by trolls and narcissists, and by convincing us that this pantomime is based on a true story, social media is afflicting us with a chronic paranoia that dements logic, destroys goodwill, and obstructs dialogue.”

Gurwinder

I don’t use social media. Wait, does WordPress count? Anyways. I don’t use social media, I don’t watch television, I don’t read newly-released books, and I don’t follow the news. I generally find myself looking inward, rather than outward, for my entertainment. I’m far more interested in creating than consuming. And, as I become further and further removed from my past (already minimal) media consumption habits, the crazier the constant-consumers look.

Per the article, a 2021 Pew survey of 10,000 US social media users found that only 9% of people shared or posted political content online. Furthermore, research suggests narcissists are more likely to be political activists. On top of that research suggests that people with narcissistic traits are more likely to use social media, and more likely to have social media clout. So, it appears that a small and vocal group of needy narcissists drive the majority of toxicity online.

But there’s more. A 2021 study analyzed 2.7 million tweets and Facebook posts, and found that social media posts that attack the opposing political group receive twice as many shares as posts that champion one’s own group. The high engagement that online belligerence receives has a double effect: it means that toxic posts are more widely circulated, but it also means that people who attack others online are rewarded.

Social media both attracts and amplifies dramatic, narcissistic people, making them seem far more representative of humanity than they really are. Then, the consequence of believing that people are extremer than they are is that it makes you extreme. In a longitudinal study incorporating over 16 million comments on CNN.com, researchers found that people who saw antisocial posts from others became embittered and were then more likely to act antisocially themselves.

The solution? The author proposes careful curation. Utilize Twitter, but don’t hesitate to block and mute those peddling lies and amplifying fear. That may work. For me, abstaining all together has been the right call. I’ve bookmarked a few Twitter accounts that I check it on occasion, but it seems the social media has become a swampy whirlpool that is sending everyone into downward spiral of pessimism, hatred and, as the author so eloquently puts it, “turning our brains to shit.”

Something actionable

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”

Ram Dass

We have a tendency to judge other people, while we allow nature to be her wild and imperfect self. The next time you find yourself criticizing another, try to view the person as a tree–uniquely shaped by environment and experiences, and doing their best to thrive where they have been planted.

Just for fun

In the fourth grade, we had an assignment to use CAD software to design a bridge withing a particular budget that could sustain a certain weight threshold. I became so obsessed with bridges that I spent my recesses in the computer lab and was given a copy of the software to take home. I must have logged thousands of hours constructing and testing bridges. Someone should have advised me to study structural engineering.

The obsession lives on, and I recently found the below Twitter thread on some extraordinary bridges and their history. If you, too, have a strange fascination with impossible structures, check it out!

Meme of the week

Chew on this: You’re much more lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry if you’re fat. Therefore, “big is beautiful.”

You can’t be healthy at any size, but you can get healthy from any size. Every decision matters. If you’ve set a New Years resolution to eat better, exercise, or get more sleep, focus on the future reward rather than the current sacrifice. Your future self will thank you.

20 thoughts on “Web Miscellany: Compilation #107

Add yours

  1. “a small and vocal group of needy narcissists drive the majority of toxicity online.”

    Very true. As you mentioned, curating what we see and click on is crucial to what we see in our feeds.

    I have spent the past few years carefully curating who I’m connected with and what I choose to see in my feed, that now the things that the analytics software recommends for me to read are more artists posts and pictures, wire wrapping, nature, recipes and positive memes!

    I do my best not to click on clickbait. I ask myself each time if I want it in my life and if I want to give it more life by clicking on it. If the answer is no, I keep scrolling, no matter how tempting it may be to check on the drama.

    Political drama is something I’m working hard to stay away from, especially when certain players are involved. I don’t want to add to their shenanigans trending. I don’t want to add to their online clout by rewarding their toxicity.

    Yes, I have those thoughts in my mi d as I slide by their posts or people reporting on them. I derive a sense of satisfaction, knowing that I am purposefully withholding the currency that they seek to keep in the spotlight, and hence in the flow of money and donations. Yes, I do get satisfaction from that! 😁😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would have guessed that the loudest messages were coming from a select few, but to see the objective evidence is eye-opening. I love that you’re so intentional and “purposefully withholding the currency that they seek”… brilliantly put!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it, Tamara! Way to go! I was never addicted to social media, but I spent too much of my early-twenties on it. I’m glad to have cut the cord.

        Like

  2. Wow — what a powerhouse post, Erin! I love it…and I’m with you about social media…I struggled and walked away and I’m only now dipping a baby toe back in. Slowly. Your thought about WP and social media – gah! You’re right – I hadn’t put that on my ‘watch list’ but I see parallels…
    Lastly, I am thunderstruck by your tale of bridge-building using CAD in 4th grade? Whaaa? I’m pretty sure I was still being schooled to NOT eat crayons at that point. You continue to impress and amaze me! Big hugs! 🥰🥰🥰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Big hugs, Vicki! 🥰 I think Deb is right that while WP may be a form of social media, it’s self-curate rather than an algorithm, longer form content, and people just so much kinder… maybe WP is a far-removed second-cousin of the soul-sucking social media site. 🤪

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t use *other* social media, but I do define WP as a part of the package. I find it’s easier to be selective if you will, on WP and not get caught up in the endless scrolling cycle of other forms of SM. Also reading deeper, thoughtful writing allows you to see a good bit of the person on the page. You don’t get that from a tweet necessarily especially when the entire goal is simply sharing others crap. I’d like to think there’s something more behind who those folks really are.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’ve absolutely nailed it, Deb. Thanks for the smart comment! There’s far more self-curation, thoughtfulness, interesting ideas, positive interactions here. It’s social, but not the addictive “doomscrolling”… personally, I don’t come back due to addiction, but rather a curiosity about what my digital friends are thinking and doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this collection of web miscellany. About the food for thought – I recently started reading Anand Giridharas book The Persuaders. He spent a lot of months reading the twitter feeds produced by the troll farms in Russia about our 2016 elections. What he found was that they were working to exacerbate our American tendency not to talk to “the other side” by making us feel like it was pointless. And his point – the disengagement is a bigger threat to democracy than anything else.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment – what you said about people posting about politics triggered this interesting (I thought) observation.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “The disengagement is a bigger threat to democracy than anything else.” Bingo! I try not to veer too far into political stuff, but I think this is the precise reason the media is continually highlighting the differences–black vs. white, pro-life vs. pro-choice, two genders vs. infinite genders, vegan vs. carnivore, pro-vax vs. anti-vax, “big is beautiful” vs. “you’ve only fueling pharmaceutical profits,” etc. We are no longer a collective of human being nor ever Americans. Everyone, even within households, is divided. It seems we can no longer look at one another and identify the commonalities in history, values, and hopes… instead it’s a argument over the latest hot button issue. And it’s not just a threat to democracy, but a threat to our humanity. We’re killing kindness, empathy, and our shared sense of human history.

      Thanks you for the thoughtful comment, Wynne! I hope you have a great weekend, as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so with you, Erin. I don’t watch TV at all (don’t even have one, actually). I don’t watch shows. I read. As to social media, I’d gone off of everything, then went back on when I was looking for a virtual job (figured any potential employer would want to get a sense of who I am/was), but I go back and forth on keeping any of it. I become disenchanted with it very easily, and am always about half-primed to pull the trigger again. I’ve had a post in mind for a long time about how our society is being dumbed down (in my opinion), by the constant drivel of.. well, nothingness. Funny memes, pithy quotes, ads, and there’s nothing wrong with any of it, but it’s all so mindless. Sorry, you’ve hit a button. Can you tell? 😆 As a side note, you came to mind the other day and I was wondering how you got to be such an old soul at your young age. It’s really sweet the way you have your priorities straight. And if you couldn’t tell, I loved the post. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, reading is so much fulfilling that television. I understand what you mean about having a digital fingerprint out there. Remote work is great, but the lack of face-to-face interaction does change the dynamic. I share your opinion that society is being dumbed down and I think it’s by design. People don’t have the critical thinking skills or attention spans needed to understand that they have control over their lives, if they put in the effort. It’s much easier to control a mindless populous. I would be really curious to see a post with your thoughts! It’s a hot button for me, as well… people are so deep in it, they don’t even realize. It drive me bonkers!

      Oh, you are so sweet, Kendra! That is one of the kindest compliments I could ask for. 😀 I think time I was called an “old soul” was around age 10, and I’ve often wondered when that comes from… a good upbringing, avid reading (including adoration of Aesop’s Fables and Bennett’s Book of Virtues), or the ancestral lessons of my forefathers in my bones? I would love to know! Anyways, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment, Kendra! ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope to get around to it sometime, if nobody else does. I’ve started a couple of times, but need to do more research. I want to be sure it’s not just my anecdotal experiences clouding my view. I wouldn’t think so, but… As to the old soul thing, it’s very fitting of you! And I’m so glad you took it as a compliment. After hitting send, I thought you might not, but it was definitely a compliment on my end. I’m not sure where it comes from either – I suspect it’s a combination of things, but personality and DNA have to play a large role. In any case, it’s a delight and I’m thankful for you. ❤️

        Like

      2. I understand. I also have a few half-baked opinion pieces on the dumbing down of society… it’s a tricky topic because I don’t want to call anyone dumb and I don’t want to offend anyone by suggesting the impetus for change is on them. Ah, thank you, Kendra! And am so thankful for you, as well! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I like that meme about the dog. We also have to watch out not to feed ours too much. As it comes to newsgathering I always want the two sides of the story and the geopolitical background so you can see who gains the most of a war. I read the newspaper two times a day. But books are more valuable sources of information.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Social Media is so toxic and such a huge waste of time. I walked away from IG with almost 20K followers because everyone was “too perfect”, 😬, I’m rarely on FB, but do have to use FB for my business, but at least it’s only my own stuff there! lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a smart approach, Carla! Social media can be a great tool, if you leverage for your benefits, rather than allowing it to leverage your data for its profit. It sounds like you’re doing just that!

      Liked by 1 person

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