Sunday, July 12, 2015

Memes: The End of Original Thought

For me, the saddest thing about Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media is the constant use of memes. Too many people have given up on thinking. I understand sharing a meme that's funny, clever, or has a sentimental feel, but to completely outsource your thinking to someone with a meme generating app is troubling to me. The majority of the social, political, and economic based memes I see are blatantly false and designed to be click bait. Information is easier to get now than ever, yet too few are willing to invest the time it takes to read peer reviewed journals, attend talks and lectures, or -at the very least- think for themselves.

The amount of scrutiny social, scientific, and economic theory faces before we (the general public) ever get a chance to engage it is enormous, yet all of that hard work can be negated by someone with an app and a high speed Internet connection. I scroll my news feeds and timelines and read some of the most factually inaccurate psycho babble you can imagine. If video killed the radio star then Internet memes killed original thought.

The popularity of Internet memes is a sign that the war on intellect and critical thinking is working. The political and media organizations that invested in systematically misinforming our fellow citizens have won; scholarship, and intellectualism are the sacrificial lambs to the altars of dogmatism and ignorance.

Immanuel Kant wrote an essay titled, "What is Enlightenment". The most powerful quote reads as follows:

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on--then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me.

Kant wouldn't be surprised by our present condition. The ability to mislead and distract has always been the most effective and efficient way for the ruling class to control the demos or proletariat.