I’m listening to a podcast discussion in which both sides are pretty clearly sympathetic to a certain mega social media platform and its attempts to regulate free speech in the name of keeping the members from “getting into silos”. The idea of the discussion is that you have to step in and regulate things, or else, the participants in the community will be drawn only to the camps that gather around their own favorite points of view. And so the hunt is on, it seems, for the most effective and efficient ways to do this—apparently, to inject an alternate point of view into discussions on the platform.
And is anything wrong with this?
Does the mission itself seem worthy?
And is it important how it is done, and whether it is done equally to all parties involved?
Well, none of those questions seemed to come up in the discussion. Rather, it was the a priori and unspoken assumption that the mission is a no-brainer. And so from there, they went on about how hard it is.
But let me poke some holes in this.
- First of all, human beings almost always want to be “siloed” to some extent. Whether it’s a good occurrence or not, it’s want they want. In fact, even among those who have learned to say that they don’t want it, you’ll still observe them staying in their “silos”, and even resenting or shunning alternative points of view that make it into those discussions.
- This is true of “Liberals” and “Conservatives”. But do we have statistics at how often the platform has sought to inject alternative views into each side in this “two-party system”? I have a hunch that it is not applied fairly and consistently. Rather, it’s being done to sway political outcomes.
- Regarding the practice of interrupted natural conversation in order to present an alternate view, isn’t this based on the assumption that something is wrong or incomplete about the prevailing views of the person in question? Or do we take the position instead that, “No! ALL views need to be well-informed with alternate possibilities.”? If it’s the latter, when what about the interrupting itself? Do the interruptors present more than one alternative view? Do they present information that disagrees with their own view? I would love to see statistics on how often this happens. I don’t recall having seen it happen a single time so far.
- If being in a “silo” is a problem, is it also a problem for the ones who presume to correct the rest of the world? Or are they somehow above the penchant of the rest of the world to deceive themselves by way of having too little information?
While this sort of regulation may sound quite righteous to many, I see many problems with it. And I have yet to see it righteously implemented or consistently practiced. I see Liberals and Conservatives alike cheating with it. And it seems to be the rare person who doesn’t want to cheat with it. So in my view, it’s just another excuse for tyrants and scoundrels to get away with bad things.
As Dan Ariely points out in his most excellent and helpful book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How we lie to everyone—especially ourselves, one of the easiest ways to excuse one’s own lying, cheating, or stealing is to tell oneself “It’s for a good cause!” And I think that’s what’s going on here. They want to censor the speech of opposing views, so they claim that they’re doing it on a quest to free the world from a lack of ample information—as if they themselves were actually interested in knowing all points of view for every belief they hold.