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Modern Isolation.

10 July 2015

I am feeling completely cut off from the online world. Since ending my promotion of this blog on twitter, there is minimal readership, and almost no interaction. My professional account online is dull and doesn’t connect on a human level with anyone. Most of my community on twitter is ruled by trolls who flit from outrage to outrage, mindlessly parroting the latest political fashion. I can be happy there as long as I am willing to replace my own insight and thought with the groupthink.

But as soon as you step back and say you’d like to think a moment before climbing onto the latest torchwagon, you’re labeled an infidel. The community has become a bizarre incestuous hate-fest. Ruled by trolls. And even when (as is usually the case) the general consensus is one of justice and rectitude, it’s still patrolled by small-town cop/school marm assholes bent on enforcing the orthodoxy and running anyone who doesn’t agree off the internet.

Politics is religion. And academic twitter is a particularly pious church. I wish I knew how to interact with that community without being shamed for failing to participate in the show trials. I wish there were a community that accepted diversity of thought, as well as diversity of personage. But there isn’t. Not in the online academic world. It’s disturbingly ironic that in the world of online scientists, awaiting evidence is one of the greatest sins there is.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. aimee permalink
    10 July 2015 10:35

    It sounds like your experience is mine, times a million. I’ve only dipped my toe in The waters of online politics, and the water was too hot for me. if you are pining for electronic social interaction – Come back to Facebook, we miss you!

  2. 10 July 2015 10:52

    I feel like I should apologize for a few weeks ago; I think we had a good discussion about GMO labels, but that article you linked to cited some of the worst science and misconceptions about genetically modified foods/products.

    As Dr. Folta said, I don’t believe that education or expertise is always patronizing (but it does need to be acknowledged if someone is familiar and expert in a subject); and there are likely ways in which labels might be implemented that would be fine, informative, and useful; but as constituted now, they are a sign of “avoid this because unscientific reasons” too often (which I think is patronizing from the other side of the issue).

    Not to rehash our conversation, but I didn’t mean to come off as attacking you and I probably did. And I apologize for that. I try to be civil and respectful online always, and try to listen more than speak and try to ask intelligent questions. I think I failed that w/ you in our convo a few weeks ago, and I’m sorry if I contributed to making Twitter a less friendly place for you to hang out.

  3. Beth M permalink
    11 July 2015 11:26

    It’s an interesting question, where DOES one find a community where people of differing viewpoints and opinions can have a rational discourse? Perhaps there’s such a place online, but I’m skeptical. Most online forums make it easy for posters to maintain anonymity, and the knowledge that you can say what you want without anyone knowing who you are seems to bring out the worst in people. Combine that with knowing you’re never going to have to meet your conversational partners face to face, and the social norms that moderate behavior start to break down.
    It’s probably because I’m not active on Twitter, but I would have thought things would be different there – less anonymity, no?
    It’s become so easy to filter our media and social interactions so we only hear from people who agree with us, I wonder if most of us haven’t completely forgotten how to have challenging, but calm, rational discussions about controversial topics with people we disagree with.

  4. 13 July 2015 07:10

    The ugliness of anonymous people is why I had to leave my old blog behind. I still miss it because of the great interactions, the ability to sometimes help someone, and the friends I met. However, the ugliness keeps me away.

    I am sorry for your loss. It really is a loss.

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