Enter the Echo

In the past, I used social media as a way to educate other people. I believed in the “no cause is a lost cause” narrative. This foundation was slowly eroded through several thousand conversations or interactions with other people using major social media. I have come to realize that, all too often, people are not interested in the truth. They are not interested in what data or evidence may say, and they will outright refuse to read something if it does not adequately support their beliefs. Being the skeptic and realist that I am, I would have never believed this if I had not run my own miniature mock experiment.

More often than not, I participate only in conversations that could be objectively proven. I have little interest in subjective debates, because they usually end with spinning wheels – neither side agreeing to anything except to “agree to disagree.” As one should in such debates, I cited my sources and vetted them carefully. I was never a fan of cherry-picking or arguments from authority. I would give a good glimpse at the general trend of the larger topic’s research using only peer-reviewed articles that were often used by other researchers. These links were often long and bulky, so I would use Bit.ly to shorten them. Thankfully, Bit.ly not only shortens links, but also keeps track of the click-through rate. It will tell you just exactly how many people were clicking on that, which gives a good idea to how many people were reading them.

What I found was horribly disappointing to my optimistic “no cause is lost” self. I found that no one would click them. Most of the time, these were discussions about climate change, where one MUST know the science behind it to be able to adequately form a properly informed opinion. Regardless of how well or kind my argument was worded, no matter the length of my argument, no matter the amount of links – whether many or few – no one clicked them. Not a soul. Yet, I would get response after response from Deniers attacking me, using Gish Gallop tactics, citing their own sources (which I would read and respond directly to), and fallacy after fallacy. This was frustrating. I wanted to educate them, but they would not even educate themselves? How was one to spread information when it isn’t even being consumed?

That was the beginning of the end for my belief that all were worthy of rational and well-thought-out discourse. Seeing this over and over again, no matter where I went on Facebook or other social media broke that foundation and replaced it with another one – indifference. I have realized that the majority are blissfully and willfully ignorant. They are not interested in learning new things. They are not interested in changing their world view to end hurt in the world. They only exist to spread their misconceptions. It does not matter how you try to educate them. They exist within their Echo Chamber. They are not interested in anything beyond it, and they are often unaware that they even exist within one. You could describe to them this effect. You could provide for them a list of internal biases. You could do so much for them, but they would fail to recognize themselves in what you provide. They would only see you and what you do. Regardless of how you treat them or what you do with them, you will be the villain, and they will be righteous.

Many of you already know these people. They come in many flavors – MRAs, TERFs, “NOT ALL XYZ,” and the list goes on. They exist to break you down, piece by piece, and refuse to accept that they could be wrong about anything. They are the lost causes of the world. The only way that these individuals will be able to wake up, become enlightened, and begin sipping the tea of truth is if they do it on their own. I no longer waste (that’s relative) my time with these individuals these days. I no longer feel that it is my duty to educate them, because they have failed to recognize that it was their job all along, and they have failed miserably at doing so. Instead, I only exist as a cog in my own Echo Chamber that seeks to reduce the burden upon those I deem worthy – those people that have already sought to educate themselves through proper avenues. Those people that have come to the same conclusions I did about life, people, love, and happiness because of where the data lead them. I do not exist for these people. I exist to make their lives miserable. I do not believe that everyone is “entitled to their opinion” anymore, because that is not the case.

Just because you may have an opinion on something does not mean that it aligns with the facts. If it is wrong, and someone criticizes that misconception to show you why it is wrong, then perhaps it’s time to practice a little metacognition and find out why the other person could be right. You may find that you were right all along. However, if you are generating your own reality from your opinions rather than what can be found through mathematical and objective analysis, you will find that you were not correct, and you were simply lying to yourself the entire time. This is the Echo Chamber. When you have failed to logically follow the information provided to you by other people better equipped than you and come to the same conclusions, you are within the Echo Chamber. Objective truth is replicable. It does not exist in one’s own mind – it exists in a tangible form beyond that. One can ignore what is real in place of one’s fantasy, if one chooses to. However, that does not mean that everyone else that exists in reality must be respectful of these beliefs. This is the state at which I am now in. When I see misinformation being spread or someone’s misconceptions being put out there that may harm others, that individual is no longer deemed worthy of proper discussion. I view them as something to be destroyed – their opinion must be crushed. I exist for the people that are hurt by such fantasies that are forced upon us by the willfully ignorant and openly opinionated.

I do not exist for them. I exist for you, because you are worth it. You are important to me. You have meaning in my life.