Jesse Singal urging us to Rediscover Wrongness
People can usually believe wrong things without being dangerous, and in fact billions of people do hold religious beliefs that make no logical sense without becoming violent zealots.
I am wrong, what feels like hundreds of times a day, some days. Occasionally, it’s small things that I didn’t think though correctly and guessed. Sporadically, it is matters I didn’t really understand or misinterpreted the information I had at hand. And every so often I just choose wrong, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
Don’t get me wrong I am right a lot of the time too, I’m not ready for life help yet, but I am not doing anyone any harm. There’s no malice in a lot of the things I believe in that could be wrong, I am just wrong and that should be OK. I’m fine with being wrong, finding out that I am wrong and then changing my world view, but many people seem to have forgotten this skill altogether.
The issue comes when someone that another thinks is incorrect is painted as a harmful, and often portrayed in an exaggerated way. The other side of a disagreement isn’t evil or trying to trick you, they just see the world differently to you and make decisions based on their experiences. As Jesse points out in the linked article, “If everything is dangerous or violent, then nothing is”.
The notion in the article of much of this constant state of angriness is due to the attention economy is correct. The more exaggerated the accusations and finger pointing, the more attention is gained. No-one believes that having a wrong idea about the way the Pyramids are built is harmful, as the author well knows, but that doesn’t get clicks, does it.
There is also a real issue of the bubbles we all live in now. Social media algorithms creates a space where we see posts and updates that we agree with. YouTube and Netflix force content on us that we will like, and issues arise when we bump up against the edges. We, the people, need to learn how to disagree with someone but still appreciate them as a person. To smile and shake your head at the conspiracy theorist next door, but still stop and talk to them whenever you can.
The lines of politics have never been this rigid before, and it’s pathetic. I know we can get back to being OK with this. I was brought up with a friend group that was as diverse as it comes, and with an ingrained bullshit detector that was sharpened in a school without internet access. We learnt to fall out, make up again, argue and bicker but still get along together.
I know this ability is in all of us. One wish for 2023, now the walls of large social media are at least a bit broken, can we re-learn to disagree politely, please? To take criticism, embrace other view points and not worry about it. You might actually learn something too.