Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Fake news: How excessive internetting increases groupthink and stupidity

The following is an excerpt from Log Off by Blake Snow


I believe excessive internetting divides and might someday conquer us.

In fact, it already spoils teamwork and our ability to have intelligent conversations about controversial topics, such as climate change, immunizations, nutrition, and politics. It does this because the unlimited amount of information and opinion found online actually heightens our susceptibility to confirmation bias, the cognitive disorder that most of us suffer from in which we tend to only listen to information that confirms our preconceptions and worldview rather than challenging us toward progress, compromise, and trade-offs.

Put simply, it increases hive-mindedness and groupthink.

Further, excessive internetting increases our susceptibility to information bias and the ostrich effect. The former has proven to weaken our decision-making since access to less information often results in more accurate predictions and decisions. The latter relates to the above. Since we can indulge and decide which worldview we choose to see now by filtering out things we don’t like to confront, it’s easier now to delude and shield ourselves from complex and uncomfortable realities. Thus, excessive internetting solidifies cognitive dissonance.

Make no mistake: I’m no conspiracy theorist. In no way was our current condition deliberately designed, evilly motivated, or put in place by anyone or any group in particular. It’s really just shortsighted thinking and a lack of planning—the early stages and growing pains of the wild, wild, “digital West.”

Nevertheless, our exposure to this brave new world has gone too far, especially among the sizable amount of the more compulsive ones among us. While there can never be too much information, we’ve learned the hard way that you can consume too much of it.

All told, excessive internetting is crippling our society, and so much so that I don’t believe the Renaissance would have happened (or could happen again) with the amount of human distraction taking place now. Significant creative movements and cultural advancements demand far more attention and focus than our current society is able to give.

Of course, we’re still capable of political unrest. We still get angry when we see injustice. And we’re still exploring exciting opportunities such as privatized space travel, driverless cars, and prolonged human life. But, in most cases, we’re too myopic, distant, or both to give a damn about more important things.

As an ironic advertisement from Apple recently asserted, “We’ve started to confuse convenience for joy, abundance for choice.”

The company was talking about good smartphone design. But they may have well introduced a modern metaphor for the life created from overused internetting.