Swimming pool lanes and steps

I might pay for Noah Smith’s publication if it weren’t on Substack. While it’s a shame that I may never see the bit beyond the paywall of this article, there’s enough in the bit I can enough read to be thought-provoking.

He riffs off a Twitter thread by Mark Allan Bovair who points to 2015 when lots of people started to be extremely online. This changed society greatly because we started understanding the world through a political lens, both online and offline. (Although there isn’t really an ‘offline’ any more with smartphones in our pockets and wearables on our wrists.)

We like to think that our worldviews are based on facts, but they’re much more likely to be based on emotion. Given the increasingly-short social media-fueled news cycles, our tendency to favour images and video over text, and our willingness to share things that fit with our existing worldview, I think we’re in a lot of trouble, actually.

(I’d also point out in passing that the moral panic around teenagers and smartphones whipped up by commenters such as Jonathan Haidt says more about parents than it does about their kids)

Those equating this to events or technology are missing the point. There was a shift around 2015 where the “online” world spilled over into the real world and the way we view/treat each other changed.

After 2015 things in everyday life started to go through the political lens. We started to bucket people and behaviors along the political spectrum, which was largely an online behavior pre-2015. We started judging everyone as left or right, or we walked on eggshells to avoid it.

Before that, you knew your neighbor was Republican or Democrat based on their lawn signs, but it had little bearing on your daily interactions or behaviors. And it only seemed to matter every four years for a few months. Now it’s constant and pervasive.

And pre-2015 we had phones and social media, but there was more of a boundary, and most people would “log off” most of the day. The dopamine addiction, heightened by the polarization, was much lower. Only fringe message board and twitter posters spent their days arguing online, now it’s everywhere, and there’s no real boundary.

Source: Noahpinion