Why “This. Just. This.” is One of Our Biggest Problems

The Internet is the culmination of thousands of years of advances in human communication.  In the distant past, we had no opportunity to interact with the ideas of those across the world.  Hundreds of years ago, those thoughts were accessible, but had to be translated and schlepped hundreds of miles by ship.  Today?  You can be in New York City and ask your friend in Bangalore for a picture of what she’s having for dinner.

I’m guessing you have noticed the same thing I have.  Your friends (likely of the same ideological stripe as you are) will share a piece on social media and say: THIS. or some variant thereof.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with agreement, but here’s why I think that THIS. is a problem:

THIS. is uncomfortably close to blind agreement. Do you really agree with every thought in a piece that you love?  I love Christopher Hitchens…but I disagree with him on many occasions.  I love Reason Magazine, but I seldom find a piece with which I am in 100% agreement.  We should be judicious when it comes to expressing our complete devotion to an idea or the expression of one.

THIS. shuts down discourse.  How many of your friends, perhaps terrified that you are now part of the authoritarian left, will simply choose not to engage in discussion with you?  If you say THIS. SO MUCH THIS. 100% THIS. about a thought piece, you may be missing out on a friend’s intelligent counterargument.

THIS. prevents you from coming up with your own idea. Who knows?  Even if you can’t be argued out of a position (in this case, someone else’s), you may refine the position (in this case someone else’s) or devise a more advantageous way of sharing the concept.

What if the framers of the Constitution had planted their THIS. flag in their ideas and refused to allow debate?  Or made debate so fraught with social consequences that others were dissuaded from argument?  Let us instead remember the words of Benjamin Franklin after signing on the dotted line:

“There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them.”




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