I first heard the phrase “the tyranny of the Like button” from Perry Marshall.
A quick Google reveals the phrase’s widespread use and varying degrees of meaning.
Perry’s take was that we all want to say something people will like, and they want to say things we will like. After a while, we’re all trained to say what others will like, so that’s what we keep saying and that’s what we keep hearing.
The danger of course is that we come to think that opinions are universal and our subculture is the only culture.
It’s called an “echo chamber.” The same ideas just keep bouncing around.
A solid recipe for a closed mind.
Many Christians follow this recipe. Many atheists follow it. Right wingers, left wingers, hunters, vegetarians, both sides of the vaccine “debate”, pipeline, anti-pipeline all build and fortify their intellectual safe zones.
Sometime ago I read Jack Layton’s book Homelessness. Layton was the leader of Canada’s federal NDP party, the furthest left mainstream party in the country. Not a place my vote will likely ever land.
And yet the book inspired me. It gave me hope. I realized that maybe, just maybe there is a solution to homelessness in my country.
Even after I’ve purged hundreds of volumes from my library in recent years I’ve kept Layton’s book.
Other ways to save your brain cells include:
Reading the platforms of political parties you think you will never vote for
Developing friendships, online and offline, with people outside your philosophical or racial subcultures
Listening more than you speak
Working hard (and it is hard!) to be open to changing your mind on a matter if the evidence warrants it
There’s nothing wrong with having a solid conviction. But if we think it’s solid, maybe we should take it out and put the boots to it from time to time. We might find it reshaped.
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