The Humbling of Social Media

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One of the oddest and I think healthiest (but also most frustrating things) things about social media is bumping into strangers with whom little communication seems possible.

I traffic mainly in the world of politics and culture. And there’s little surprising about the kind of intense political disagreement that makes it hard to have any real sort of communication. Other times it’s simple ignorance or even lack of intelligence. You find yourself in a seeming disagreement. But it’s actually not quite a disagreement because the other person doesn’t understand what you’re saying. And the thin straw of social media contact is simply too narrow to overcome the gap.

Other times – and these are maybe the most frustrating but also most important – the person’s no dummy. They’re not uneducated or ignorant in a general sense. But the points of reference, experience, the simple ‘what they’re trying to talk about’ and vice versa, is so different that real communication is very difficult or not really possible. And in any case, ‘Why am I even trying since I just randomly bumped into you in this thread?’ So why bother? What’s the point? It’s frustrating but also humbling in an important way because it brings you face to face with how parochial, limited your own experiences and points of reference are.

Maybe limited and parochial or refined and esoteric. But at the end of the day, these are other people with whom basic exchange, basic communication, is difficult. It’s exacerbated by the faceless and abrupt nature of social media communication. But it’s humbling and a good way to be humbled.

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