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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Crowded Lonliness

I found an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times this morning about the digital euthanasia of the individual.
For the pop sociologists of the period after World War II, “crowd” was a scare word, an impersonal entity that would extinguish your personality, spew contempt at your uniqueness, disable the operation of your individual instincts and judgment.

Now the “wisdom of crowds” has become an accepted platitude. “Peer pressure,” far from being a pernicious influence, is something we seek out as we race from one review site to another.
Seeking Out Peer Pressure brilliantly lays out the decline of individual ideas, will, and confidence and their replacement by crowd sourced meta-thought. It's an easy and informative read that I recommend highly.

A friend pointed out one of the falicies of crowd sourced thinking:
  • Everyone professes a desire to eat healthy
  • Oreos are the most popular food item on the planet
  • If the crowd is correct → Oreos are the heathliest food you can eat
The recent crowd sourced investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings on reddit.com was so like an old west posse and lynch mob that several apologies had to be issued to the people it wrongly singled out as the perpetrators. At the same time it completely missed the two who were ultimately accused and arrested.

Sharing ideas and experiences can be a good thing. That's what I'm doing here. Following blindly the digital detritus of others without critical thinking is deadly. Cattle travel in herds and they get slaughtered. Plus, they rarely look like they're having any fun.


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