how do we know what we know is true

the internet can be overstimulating to an obsessive questioner

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Sometimes I find the internet way too overstimulating. There is too much to think about on it, too many arguments I could get pulled into questioning. Even things that seem benign to most people pose weird challenges to me.

For example, this morning I get up and on my facebook feed someone has posted a link to a video of little girls dancing. Comments are split with most comments cheering one child for having really “felt the music” but one commenter points out that she admires the girl who tries to go ahead and follow the choreography without worrying about the other girl’s interruption. So I find myself thinking about different values. Why do people celebrate the rebel? Why do others celebrate conformity? Are there times it is not appropriate to stand out in a crowd? Little kids are just being little kids, but for older people how do we deal with the standing out? Or with different skill levels? What if there was a video of children just a little bit older, where all but one are moving nicely with the music and one is not moving more in touch with the music but really behind? How does racism play into people’s interpretations of the video?

Then there’s a report that Fox News hires sockpuppets to comment on blogs critical of them, and I start to think about the fight over Baby Veronica, where adoptive parents Melanie and Matt Capobianco had a PR company helping spread the word about their fight to get the girl they wanted to adopt back from her biological father. (They won – despite her spending almost two years with a fit biological father that wanted to raise her, they get to adopt her.) People were critical of the PR team commenting on all the news articles and the PR spokesperson responded that they weren’t being paid to comment they were doing it as individuals and why should they not be able to express their opinion. So what exactly is the problem with them responding to comments? Is the problem that their employer presumably gives them extra time to comment? Is the problem a perceived unfair advantage that their commentors are paid whereas people arguing the counter argument have to do it on their own time and presumably have less time? Is it that their employer could be rewarding them in some way? Is it that they weren’t declaring their connection on all their posts so the general public could assume that they were just representing the average joe, when in fact they were representing a group connected with the Capobiancos? I don’t know if the Capobiancos ever actually paid their PR team or if the PR team did it voluntarily. Does that make any different? Does voluntarily doing it at least signify some belief in the cause? Or does the fact that they are a PR team still make them in some way yucky, their opinions invalid?

When Fox News hires sockpuppets to comment, is it the strength of their argument that counts? Or is the problem that they are advisements impersonating normal people? Is the problem that Fox News sees the need to move beyond just offering their product to fighting about it on blogs, rejecting the possiblity that others might have a point about them? Is the problem that the people might not really believe what they’re saying, and are just saying it becuase they are paid, in which case the question is why does it matter if random guy believes this stuff? Would it be okay if they only paid people who actually believe the argument? Is it possible to really believe something and not have the pay influence one’s ability to continue to think about it?

These are just the two random issues that popped up in my facebook feed this morning. On any given day the questions and issues can be different, and I know the sensible thing is just to glance things over and ignore them but the questions still remain. There’s always questions… always more to ask and figure out about life and about beliefs. A political meme can leave me questioning whether the border between humor and legitimate arguments are, or if there are such things as legitimate arguments in the first place. When is something overly emotional so as to hide the fact there are huge flaws in the logic, and when are people just insisting on the tone argument, critizing the tone of something so that they can ignore the truth of the logic?

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