Shameless Self-Promotion of Virtue

For years the need to be first has been surpassing the need to be right. Unfortunately it has now reached epidemic proportions. The attention span of the general population has become incomprehensibly short.

Once an event manages to capture the ever fleeting attention of the public viewer there is but a moments pause before establishing our first impressions of condemnation or praise. Moments later we send it out into the twitter-verse in the hopes of creating a viral response.

The truth, it seems, is something that is no longer reasonably available to the modern consumer. We are not motivated by the pursuit of a complete and comprehensive understanding of the world, rather our agenda is much more self centered. We comment, share, like, and dislike videos not to be agents of truth but instead to leverage them as self promotional tools of our personal values. It doesn’t really matter at all if the story in question has turned out to be false.

For example, we may see a situation where it looks like someone is being mistreated, so we share the story and state that we are against this mistreatment. Now the world knows where we stand on the subject. If it turns out there was no mistreatment at all, who cares?? I am not in it for the absolute truth, I am participating in this community for the primary purpose of promoting my virtue.

The collateral damage from this behaviour is enormous but also largely unseen. For the attention of the masses has moved on to something else and the new story isn’t serving as a promotional tool for anyone’s identity anymore.

Social Media has created an epidemic of selfishness. Many of us have multiple online profiles and on each of them we are trying to carve out our unique space in an increasingly crowded environment. I get it. And I have probably participated in it. But we need to do better.

There is value in restraint and level-headedness. Let your first response be to ask more questions. Give it three days grace before joining the internet mob. It’s not a lot of time and definitely not enough for the whole truth to emerge, but it allows the seeds of doubt to break through the soil.


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