Reason

Ideology is so attractive right now for the exact same reason it's so dangerous: it lets us stop thinking.

When we’re bombarded with information relentlessly, critical thinking is too slow and too much work to make sense of it all. So as a survival mechanism we throw away logic and reason, and reach for faster, more holistic ways of understanding—like feelings, humour, and imagery.

When you join a tribe you plug its ideology directly into your nervous system. In return, you get lightning fast ideological reflexes; your tribe's dogma gets baked directly into your perception of the world. You can see a photo or read a name in a headline and know exactly how to respond without even thinking. And that's a relief because none of us really know what's going on. The flood of information we consume is full of contradictions, hype, and bias. Our view of the world is invisibly shaped by the decisions of algorithms. And, the truth is, most of us are technologically and culturally illiterate; that sounds harsh, but it's true.

In a chaotic, turbulent world, holding on tightly to an ideology gives you the illusion that you're on steady ground and in control.

Together, abandoning reason and contracting around beliefs make a perfect recipe for radicalism and fundamentalism. Unfortunately, they're also perfectly sensible reactions to living in a world of hyper everything. It's a lot easier to get angry at a tweet than it is to think about it. And the faster you get through this tweet, the faster you can get on to the next one, and the next one.

It's tempting to look at the culture wars on Twitter and think that most people on social media "shouldn't be discussing issues, but re-learning the basic structure of a logical argument". [1] But that's like saying most people who are drowning shouldn't be flapping their arms, but re-learning the basic structure of the breast stroke.

We’re drowning in information. All of us. And when someone is drowning they don’t have the luxury of being reasonable. Actually people who are drowning can be quite dangerous. Lifeguards are taught to approach drowners from behind because if you swim towards them they'll often try to push you down under when you reach out a hand to help. Something to keep in mind the next time you have the urge to reach out with a handful of facts and logic thinking you're going to save someone who's clearly drowning in the Flood.


Hypeocracy is a growing collection of meditations on our new electric politik: Anarchy Democracy Disrupt Empire Free Speech Justice Nervous Reason