In the age of consumption, the need for intentionality in seeking knowledge is a relic of the past. The bulk of the ideas we engage with are those broadcast at us, and determined by a blend of mass media and tech algorithms - each governed by their own sense of what they think is best for us to see and consume.
We still have discussions, but often these are illusory at best, as the topics are determined by an endless churn of quickening news cycles and shortened attention spans. When you consider private content production, the trend has gone from long monologues and discussions on platforms like YouTube, to shorter and shorter bites of information on new, faster platforms. Information is shared through stories that last 24 hours and TikToks that last 15 seconds.
There is no longer an urge to develop our understanding through iterative discussion or Socratic debate. You see someone share a supposed fact on Twitter. You share it, comment on it, and within hours an edited version appears on Facebook, then Instagram, and multiple more copies spread through WhatsApp like wildfire - each copy being further from the original than the last. Then tomorrow you find out it’s not true. None of it was. Not the copy, not the original - but it’s too late. We have grown used to instant communication in both work and play, but the speed of transferred thought means that disinformation travels faster than correction.
As we become servants to the news cycle, outbursts of passion, empathy and activism are dictated by how long our memories can withstand a constant barrage of information. Despite people forming strong and nuanced opinions when fresh topics arise, it is a light that quickly fades once the next one comes along.✓
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