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L C Moss

Coexistence Earthly Experience Governance

Social Media: Help or Harm?

The way that social media adjusts its algorithms can have a tremendous impact on the public debate.

The term “echo chamber” is already in common usage, describing how we self select into groups or channels of media consumption that reflect our own beliefs, reinforcing them, whether right or wrong, and filtering out any opposing views.

So to increase “engagement,” does that “outrage factory” Twitter only feed us more of what it thinks we already believe?

Does Youtube only show us more videos like the one we just watched and “liked?”

Does Facebook show Antifa more Antifa, and Proud Boys more Proud Boys?

The danger of social media, as well as 24 hour 700 channel cable is that it distorts our perception that our often niche, sometimes kook view of the world is some objective reality. An MSNBC junkie thinks “all reasonable people are democratic socialists” or a OneAmerica addict thinks that “our party and our politicians are ordained by God, thus we must ‘walk by faith’ and support them unconditionally.”


Do humanists see religious viewpoints (and vice versa)?

Do capitalists see socialist viewpoints?
Do Democrats see Republican viewpoints?

Remember, open-mindedness isn’t agreeing with the opposing viewpoint, but rather an openness to understanding it. This is an intellectual version of the emotional trait called empathy.

My fear is that net empathy, along with intelligence is decreasing, as we are fed artificial-intelligence driven iterations of ever narrower versions of what we want to hear: these new media organs, computer controlled (while the computers are programmed and controlled by flawed, biased, clueless humans) algorithms say “he likes that politician, give him more just like that! He likes that preacher, give him more just like that!

After all, it drives “engagement.” 

Yeah. But what about critical thinking? Empathy? Compassion? The notion that you and your tribe just might not hold a monopoly on “truth?”

For all practical purposes, social media didn’t exist ten years ago. Only people in the future will be able to tell if this is as impactful to history as the Gutenberg press, or like CB Radio (A good portion of readers will have no idea what this even was!) something whose time had come–and gone.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 
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Applied Virtue


Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
Listen to yourself,
Listen to others.
I did not say obey,
I did not say comply,
And I certainly did not say believe.
But do listen,
And listen intently.
It is prerequisite to understanding
And there is no knowledge in the absence of understanding.
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
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According to Accounts Applied Virtue

The Business Of The Benevolent Person

Text of 7th volume of Mozi

“It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone” – Mo Di, 5th century BC

Mohism was a philosophical school founded by Mo Di  (also referred to as Mo Zi, Master Mo) that for 700 years rivaled Confucianism in what would become China.  Though the whole ‘school’ of Mohist thought covers a lot of area (as does Confucianism), one principle, and the one I wish to focus on here is that of Jianai: “impartial caring” or universal benevolence.

Mohists believed that all people deserve benevolence, versus the teaching of Confucius that loyalty to hierarchical commitments such as parent, boss and ruler was most important. Mohists were less interested in ceremony and ritual and believed that goodwill must be universal in nature. It is not enough—in fact it is wrong to just love your family, tribe, or nation (or then, kingdom) but your compassion must be universal. “The benefit of all under heaven,” and that everyone, no matter class, status or ethnicity deserved heaven’s (Tian) blessings.

The Mohists of that time were rather ascetic: They were not fans of luxury or even musical performances, saying such efforts are better directed towards feeding and clothing of the populace. They opposed aggressive war, but volunteered as warriors for states being attacked. Remember, this was during the historical period called “Warring States” in China.

Asia would likely be quite different had Mohism not died out—quite literally it seems, in the Qin dynasty when scholars were buried alive and books were burned. Like Confucianism, it was more of a philosophy than a religion.

Beyond anything else, the central tenet of Mohism remains true today.

“It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world.”

Image:  (Pictured sideways for formatting!) Text of 7th volume of Mozi, public domain 

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