Nov 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

In an online world, we're thankful for real people

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We live in a world where bombastic CEOs, loudmouth politicians and Twitter tantrums often command our attention online.

Why it matters: Let’s give thanks that most people in our real lives are ... normal. They work, they give, they help, they live quietly and generously.

Two thought experiments:

  • First, think of the 100+ people you spend enough time with each year to appraise their character and values. I bet almost all are good, sane, worthy friends.
  • Now, think about your coming Thanksgiving meal. Maybe one loud uncle who slams one too many whiskeys will dominate the conversation. That’s social media! And it’s not reality.

🔭 Zoom way out: The chief reason so many people seem nuts or unhinged is because Twitter, cable TV and TikTok amplify the drunk uncle.

  • And because the uncle gets liked, followed, and invited back, he has an irresistible incentive to get nuttier.
  • This loop creates the false impression that more people than we think are bat-shit crazy.

Hence, the thought experiment above re: people you actually know.

Two stats to savor when you think the world has lost its mind:

  1. 75% of people in the U.S. never tweet.
  2. On an average weeknight in January, just 1% of U.S. adults watched primetime Fox News and 0.5% tuned into MSNBC.

The bottom line: Everyone else is too busy being ... normal.

Go deeper