Friday, March 10, 2017

A generation of sheltered spoiled brats

How do we learn social skills, and how to act with other people in social interactions? How do we learn to act in a manner that makes us socially acceptable, and even pleasant to interact with?

In part, by us being taught by our parents. However, that's only part of it. Perhaps the smallest part. The most important way is by learning from our mistakes. By us not knowing, because of lack of experience, how to act in a given situation, acting badly, ie. making a mistake in our behavior, and either making a fool of ourselves or sometimes even hurting someone, and then realizing the consequences of it, and learning from it.

An important part of this process is other people telling us of our mistake. Criticizing us. Pointing out where we went wrong. When this happens, especially if it's a really bad mistake, it can be very shameful and embarrassing, and it can even hurt. But that's the process of learning. We learn from our mistakes, and know how to do better next time.

However, what happens when somebody grows up in an extremely sheltered environment, isolated from the larger population, almost never having any social interactions outside of a minuscule inner circle, and never having any of his or her actions being questions nor criticized, and learning that they will always get whatever they want? What happens when they never get their feelings hurt by being reprimanded and their mistakes being pointed out and criticized?

A spoiled brat, that's what.

Spoiled brats, if they grow to adulthood thus sheltered, often will have a very hard time in life. They will be socially awkward and, quite often, will be extremely egotistical, demanding, obnoxious and, in general, be very unpleasant people who nobody likes to be friends with, because they have lived their entire lives without learning proper social skills, and having everything they wanted. When suddenly they get to the real world and people don't actually do everything they want, nor give them everything they want, they will get upset and throw tantrums. And adult tantrums can be really destructive.

Oftentimes such spoiled brats will only suffer themselves because of their lack of social skills. However, if they are more powerful (eg. because of having been born in a very rich and powerful family), they can make the lives of other people a living hell.

But what happens if an entire generation of people grows up as spoiled brats? What happens if the majority of people have lived sheltered lives where they have never been criticized nor reprimanded for their mistakes, and have learned to get everything they want?

This is just not hypothetical. It appears that the current society, at large, is trying to make the next generation like that.

Generations to come are internet generations, for good or bad (I'd say mostly for bad). They will be people whose majority of social interactions will happen through the internet, rather than real life.

A free and open internet can be a harsh place. It's an open marketplace of ideas, where you can find all sorts of opinions and viewpoints, all kinds of political stances, and all kinds of claims that can be true or false.

Openness is in itself a relatively good thing overall. People should be free to express any opinion they like, and have the opportunity to hear other people's opinions.

However, current society at large is trying its hardest to change that. This... what could we call it... quasi-organic entity composed of megacorporations, governments, politicians, international organizations, activist groups, and so on and so forth, is trying its hardest to make the internet essentially an echo-chamber for each group of people with different ideas.

"Wrong" political opinions are being silently censored and shadow-banned (which means that the poster of the opinion doesn't see that his opinion has been hidden from everybody else). This is happening on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and increasingly everywhere else.

Moreover, the shadow-banning technique is incrementally being taken further and further. Rather than outright censoring people (which seldom works), what they are starting to do is isolating people with differing opinions into their own inner groups, often without them even noticing. In other words, what they are doing is to not actually shadow-ban people's opinions entirely, but shadow-ban them only from people who have different opinions from theirs, while still showing it to like-minded people. This is a significantly more devious tactic because now people will be getting feedback to their posts, giving them the false impression that their post is open for everybody to read, when in fact it's only being seen by other likeminded people.

The technology to do this automatically is still in its infancy, but it's already being developed and used in some social media platforms (including many that are owned by Google Inc.) They are developing learning AI algorithms that will detect and categorize the kind of opinions that people express in their posts, and thus categorize users into groups based on which kind of posts they make and follow. There are already social media platforms that will "redirect" posts that are "off-topic" (which in practice means posts with dissenting opinions) to their "proper" groups. Or, in other words, isolating people into their own echo-chambers based on their opinions.

As said, this is much more devious than simply removing such posts, or even shadow-banning them.

Governments are, of course, all for this kind of thing. More and more governments are pushing for censorship of "fake news" and "hate speech". Of course "hate speech" is a broad concept and can be, and is, used as an excuse to vilify simply dissenting political opinions and criticism. It doesn't consist solely of eg. actually racist agitation, but also things like criticism of immigration policies, or any sort of political opinion that, in our modern world, is classified as "right-wing".

If these megacorporations and governments succeed in making the internet consist of isolated groups of echo-chambers, we will see more and more a generation of spoiled brats that have never encountered a differing opinion, have never encountered criticism, and have never been exposed to ideas that differ from their own, and have instead been reinforced their whole lives with the same narrow ideas.

What happens when these sheltered spoiled brats become politicians, parliamentarian representatives, heads of state, judges, the police, CEOs, and so on? What happens when an entire generation of people will throw temper tantrums when other people don't agree with them, nor immediately give them what they want? What happens when these spoiled brats are people in power, people with actual power to seriously hurt the lives of other people?

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