Centralized communications are, on a long enough timescale, an existential threat to a free society.
I'm rapidly becoming anti-tech, and I live and breathe tech. People no longer seem to know how to actually talk to each other, unless they already agree 100% with each others positions on any given subject. I don't see all of this heading in a positive direction for humanity, and I think we see that unfolding all around us, every day.
My reason for reducing my social media presence is the Like count next to every thought expressed. By adding a publicly visible number next to every expressed human thought, you influence behavior and thinking.
From a philosophical viewpoint, the danger inherent in the new reality of mankind seems to be that this unity, based on the technical means of communication and violence, destroys all national traditions and buries the authentic origins of all human existence. This destructive process can even be considered a necessary prerequisite for ultimate understanding between men of all cultures, civilizations, races, and nations. Its result would be a shallowness that would transform man, as we have known him in five thousand years of recorded history, beyond recognition. It would be more than mere superficiality; it would be as though the whole dimension of depth, without which human thought, even on the mere level of technical invention, could not exist, would simply disappear. This leveling down would be much more radical than the leveling to the lowest common denominator; it would ultimately arrive at a denominator of which we have hardly any notion today.
As long as one conceives of truth as separate and distinct from its expression, as something which by itself is uncommunicative and neither communicates itself to reason nor appeals to "existential" experience, it is almost impossible not to believe that this destructive process will inevitably be triggered off by the sheer automatism of technology which made the world one and, in a sense, united mankind. It looks as though the historical pasts of the-nations, in their utter diversity and disparity, in their confusing variety and bewildering strangeness for each other, are nothing but obstacles on the road to a horridly shallow unity. This, of course, is a delusion; if the dimension of depth out of which modern science and technology have developed ever were destroyed, the probability is that the new unity of mankind could not even technically survive. Everything then seems to depend upon the possibility of bringing the national pasts, in their original disparateness, into communication with each other as the only way to catch up with the global system of communication which covers the surface of the earth."Men in Dark Times"
Why can't we state what we mean, what we think, what we're uncertain about, what questions we'd like to discuss in order to foster discussion instead of provoking it. Playing devil's advocate is fine when it's understood what's going on and why you're playing devil's advocate, but when there's ambiguity you play this game of "yes I said that I didn't mean it though" which ends up sounding weak as it does in those case. Devil's advocate is a great cognitive strategy for exploring an issue together, but it's a very poor conversational strategy.
There's a pattern on the internet where as soon as someone's name is mentioned, people trot out the #1 worst meme about them and act like it ends the discussion. It's as if there's a big hash table in the sky that maps public figures' names to most-rage-inducing detail, and when a name in the hash table shows up, someone invariably rushes in with the value. That is a Pavolvian reflex, not thoughtful discussion.
The easy possibility to write letters must - seen theoretically - have brought a terrible disruption of the souls into the world. It is communication with ghosts, and not just with the ghost of the receiver, but with one's own ghost as well, which develops under the hand in the letter one is writing, or even in a series of letters, where on letter substantiates the other and can call on it as witness. How could the idea come up that humans can communicate with each other through letters! One can think of a person that is far away, or touch a person that is close by, everything else is above the power of humans. But writing letters means to bare oneself in front of the ghosts, which they are greedily waiting for. Written kisses don't arrive at their place, but get drunk up by the ghosts on the way. Because of this plentiful food they multiply so outrageously. Humanity is feeling that and fighting against it, it has, to disable the ghostly between humans, and to achieve the natural communication, the peace of souls, invented the train, the car, the airplane, but it's too late, apparently they are inventions made while falling, the opponent is so much calmer and stronger, and invented after mail the telegraph, the telephone, wireless telegraphy. The ghosts won't starve, but we will perish.letter to Milena Jesenská (March 1922)
My carrier pigeon just arrived with some TCP/IP/pigeon protocol packets, and I see I've caused someone's head to explode on the Internet.
How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.
You have to remember that in democratic societies citizens talking with each other is very important. We've lost a lot of that with the mass media. Now we have an opportunity for citizens to create their own communications with each other. So when these big deals with the big companies and the big governments carve up this new territory, I feel it's very important that we keep a kind of "social green belt", that we keep the ability for citizens to talk amongst each other.
.. it's why I don't go on Fox news. I don't go on CNN either, because the most you're ever gonna get is 4 to 6 minutes. And so you have to use the language of easily identifiable clichés in order for the audience to resonate. And if what you're thinking doesn't fit within those clichés, then you become unintelligible. And that of course has now been carried out through the wider culture.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
The following extract shows how a messaging client's text entry could be arbitrarily restricted to a fixed number of characters, thus forcing any conversation through this medium to be terse and discouraging intelligent discourse.
<label>What are you doing? <input name=status maxlength=140></label>
When you stand before me and look at me, what do you know of the pain in me, and what I do I know of yours. And if I threw myself to the ground before you and cried and told you, what would you know more of me than of hell if somebody told you that it is hot and terrible. For that reason alone we humans should should face each other so reverend, so thoughtful, so loving, as if facing the gates of hell.