LinkedIn and Facebook Dementia
“I don’t have to live in your world. I have created one of my own.” ― Feliz Piez
I’ve been posting content to LinkedIn lately, for The Relational Democracy Project (RDP). Some of it directly challenges capitalist norms because they conflict with democratic norms, and RDP unapologetically promotes democratic norms through research-based content and cultural work efforts.
Posting on LinkedIn is intended to create a contrast between the status quo and a healthy, thriving electoral democracy supported by humans who also relationally share power (which is largely not the status quo). Sometimes the contrast is stark and ugly, at least for the capitalist norms.
The content also shows what’s possible when business professionals embody democratic norms in an electorally democratic country. It has made some on that professional platform uncomfortable. There have been direct, lively conversations. It has been instructive, as I continue documenting — as a critical researcher for RDP — the relational conflicts between embodied democracy and embodied capitalism .
In those conversations — and in observations over months — the data show that many (older, mostly white) professionals still don’t know the difference between an opinion and research. I’m calling it Facebook Dementia.
Opinion | What Facebook Fed the Baby Boomers
Opinion Many Americans’ feeds are nightmares. I know because I spent weeks living inside two of them. In mid-October I…
(Remember who opened all those emails with viruses? Who never fundamentally understood how any of the interwebs actually worked? Whose brains are now wonky from the poison in their feeds? Yeah, they’re also on LinkedIn. Retired and trolling, some of them. Spreading the virus of intentional ignorance through misinformation, baseless opinion, and anti-intellectualism. I found a few of them. Or, they found me.)
With the limited word count, this was a quick, narrative way to illustrate the difference for those who probably won’t grasp the distinction. Hope it helped someone. Made me happy, anyway. Thought I’d share.
What’s the difference between opinion and research?
So, I buy a little place in “the country” to write for a couple of years. (Cabin porn got me.) I find the culture is radically different than my home in the Bay. Its norms — what the humans regularly do and say — literally make my body ill and my mind hurt. I am solo and have a very serious problem I need to solve to survive.
An opinion is “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” I need much more than opinion if I am going to make it home in one piece.
I’m a trained researcher, so I begin a systematic investigation of how the humans around me relate, with each other and with an outsider like me. I pay close attention to my own experience. I attentively observe others. I talk with my neighbors, with others in the community. I collect evidence (data) for the record: notes, recorded interviews, cultural documents, and digital images. I compare my evidence with what other researchers have found.
I analyze the data. Patterns surface and connections appear. Power emerges as a central theme. Questions are posed and answers tested in-field. Solutions are generated and implemented. I get home.
The difference between opinion and research can be the difference between floundering and falling, or surviving, with all the stories still to tell.
a note: I quit FB for good — permanently deleted two active accounts — on November 3rd. That’s when the 30-day waiting period expired. That felt like the right day to blow the bridge to that particular power-stealing and hoarding site. Left Comcast as a grad student, and divorced Amazon about 6 months ago after reading about all of the suicides. You should’ve SEEN that Bezos break up letter — it was epic!
Cathy B. Glenn, Ph.D. is an independent critical researcher, creative, and cultural worker whose areas of expertise are power, culture, and change. Formerly Private Principal Investigator for The Center for U.S. Rural Cultures Studies, she is now Educational Content Director and Developer for The Relational Democracy Project. She spent 5 years functionally outside capitalist demands, and it changed her fundamentally as a human being.
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