Misattributing sources and sticking to it

This morning … this (un)happy daylight savings day morning … I set out to practice a little re-wilding my attention thanks to this post I found recently.

I completely agree with the idea that we get locked into toilet-y swirling mire of algorithmic echo chambers. The internets are intelligently tracking our behaviors and loves. They learn what you like and they start amplifying your politics and showing you all the same viral bullshit that everyone else is consuming. It’s as if you think you’re so special only to find out that everyone else is special, too.

Especially stupid.

While I was researching a quote, which I’ll share in a second, I saw another quote attributed to Socrates: “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”

And while I certainly agree with the quote, I can’t find a real source for the quote. I’m guessing Socrates said something with a similar sentiment, but someone much more recently enriched it and slapped his name on it for emphasis.

Admittedly and unashamedly, I love that I do not have all the answers. I do not stake claims in certainties about 99% of topics. I don’t believe any one person can know or have all the answers. That’s why we must rely on a collective knowledge base. We look to the pros for the answers in their fields.

One problem with today’s algorithmic whirlpools is that people are misattributing their sources. Churches and pastors become the leading voices for scientific questions. Internet memes become the resources for health advice. People who graduated from a small college with a Philosophy major are dolling out how to battle the Coronavirus.

I was just talking to a friend recently who was giving me a big head for how I process photos for my clients. He carried on about my talent. When I work with photos after a photoshoot, the results are a careful blending of several images until it looks like, or better than, how it appears in real life.

But the same friend told me that that was my strength and that perhaps nothing else in my ability set was nearly as strong as that one.

Boy, that was a real kick in the pants.

He’s not completely wrong, though. Maybe I’m not as good at several things I love, but haven’t spent my 10,000 hours cultivating and strengthening. I loved to draw as a kid and into my teens and early adolescence. I drew a lot of portraits, and I felt like I got pretty good over time. But my drawing muscles have atrophied to near flaccid nothingness.

The uphill battle to strengthen those muscles again would take too much time.

I make no claims that I’m an expert, even in my own field. I’m still learning and don’t plan on plunging a battle flag of success in Photoshop or how to work my cameras or lenses.

The quote that initially caught my attention and became the impetus for this post was this one from a columnist named George Will:

“Ours is an age besotted with graphic entertainments. And in an increasingly infantilized society, whose moral philosophy is reducible to a celebration of “choice,” adults are decreasingly distinguishable from children in their absorption in entertainments and the kinds of entertainments they are absorbed in — video games, computer games, hand-held games, movies on their computers and so on. This is progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity.”

You and find the column it was in here from 2001.

The first reading of the quote seemed so modern. So now. That it’s 20 years old is almost like misattributing a quote to Socrates who lived some 400 years BCE.

We’re moving so fast in time that 20 years is the new 400 years.

But, yes George Will, we have progressed to delivering a more sophisticated delivery of stupid. Our addictions to the social medias and the games and the mixture of the two are contributing vastly to the realization of Idiocracy.

It’s this decline in civilization or being civil that whose marching leader is social media. A friend recently made the clichéd case for Trump’s episode of locker room talk. It was appalling. It was also unsolitcited. We weren’t talking about Trump, but the person talked his way from a question I asked about local politics all then way to a recording made in 2005 and made it on the scene in 2016.

This person told me multiple times that certainly I know someone who talks like that. “No, no I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t.”

“I guarantee you every president has talked like that at one time. If you think differently, they just covered it up better.”

No, I don’t believe that every president bragged about assaulting a woman. And while I’ve heard men talk about women’s boobs or how hot someone is, I have never heard someone talk about grabbing a married woman by her pussy because that’s what a badass like Donald Trump can get away with. Everyone would know it, too, because there would be an orange imprint on her jeans.

The echo chamber convinced an otherwise intelligent person that “we all know a man who locker room talked.” And while we all know someone who made a casual pass at something deemed uncomfortable by most people in civil society, my friend’s echo chamber convinced him (and many others) that it’s okay to use language like that.

It’s not.

If I heard a dude talking about assaulting another woman, I wouldn’t be friends with him. And if it weren’t for strong ties to this friend in question who defended it, I wouldn’t be friends with him entirely because defending the indefensible is a horrible sin.

How anyone can be convinced, especially people who claim moral superiority through the blood of Christ, that we all know someone who talks like that therefore it’s okay, that’s disgusting. My friend missed a great opportunity to denounce incivility rather than promote it. But being lost in being “right” for the sake of being right is too attractive.

These algorithmic echo chambers are tearing us all apart.

The social medias are biggest source of misattributing all the goods to the wrong experts. It points at all the wrong resources and deems them worthy. Instead of a collective knowledge base searching out professionals in their fields, it points at chiropractors as doctors of medicine. It has even convinced doctors of real medicines to wade into the cesspools of ignorance and promote bad information, because it’s more popular in today’s lazy hunt and gather of stupid info.

Stupid people have the the answers. Smart people ask questions and learn.

Stupid people’s curiosities are limited to single source materials, and they scream, “No, Dr. Soandso is not the expert. I am.” And down the road they go, remaining stupid, because the smartest guy in the room on the subject was called an idiot by too many people in their algorithmic echo chamber.

And on and on we go.

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