The things that people believe usually take somewhere between a few weeks and a few years to arrive at. Most of the conspiracy theories that I study, or even believe in, came about as a result of thousands of pages of books, days of YouTube videos, and possibly entire minutes of contemplation.
Those books themselves often required years of research. The YouTube videos, well, they’re all at varying levels of scholarly rigor, but they are on the internet, and therefore true. And my contemplative moments took up several moments that I could have spent doing something more useful, like reading the label on my bottle of Dr. Bronner’s.
It’s important when reading almost anything on Twitter to remember that most people go through a similar process of arriving at the things that they believe. Even if we’re just talking about Tweets…how many words have you read in the decade you’ve been on Twitter? It’s gotta be like, bigger than the Bible…maybe even two Bibles!
It’s probably a number so high it would make you weep. Thank god it’s all been worth it.
There are so many moving parts to belief that I take what most people say at face-value, unless they’re a blue check, which means that they are unquestionably financed (either through clout or cash) by political action committees and/or the CIA. Did you know that Brooklyn Dad guy got $50k last year from Democratic orgs? No wonder his takes are dog shit.
Anyhow, a rule I now have on Twitter is to remind myself, before every tweet, that nobody knows me on there, not even my mutuals. No one knows “where I’m coming from,” the kind of research I’ve done, or the vigorous thought experiments I’ve conducted while watching water swirl down the drain.
And, conversely, I don’t know anybody else. There are reasons people are where they are, and if you want them to change, you should be able to provide a body of work and references that will allow them to explore the same trails that you went down on your way to thinking the way you think. Otherwise, they’re not going to give you the benefit of the doubt.
In the meantime, while that body of work is compiled, I have that policy that I mentioned earlier in the post: “don’t spook the zombies.” Shout out to Gordon White and Rune Soup for that one. It’s valuable, not so much in the “everybody is a sheep except for me” way (which isn’t how Gordon means it, either), but in a practical manner. It’s a way of separating how you present from who you are, which have always been two separate things. Especially in work environments.
I wonder how many disasters could have been averted, both personally and for others I see getting their asses beat online, by taking a step back and thinking “how would this look to me if I’d never read that one book, or listened to three hours of that one podcast, or had that one personal experience?”
Nobody knows me, and that is very freeing. Now…how best to communicate?