Saturday, August 02, 2008

Pondering Modern Witch Hunts

[A] great many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.
-- Obi-wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi

Many stories detail the impact of online activities on people's lives. The consequences of "revealing" behavior run the gamut. Marriages are destroyed. Parents are found. Arrests are made. Jobs offers are revoked. Jobs are lost. An indignant community expresses outrage.

Yet, these carefully edited stories are almost certainly far more involved and detailed than our sound-bite society has the attention span care to investigate.

We marvel at stupidity, wonder at the incredible, and comment on the outrageous. And while we do so, we are distantly removed from the genuine emotional drama through the safety of our screens. We go no deeper than the surface presented to us. We pass judgment and move on to the next scandal.

I wonder at the impact this behavior has on our reasoning abilities. I wonder if we're forgetting how to think critically. I wonder if we've become so addicted to scandal, that we've forgotten to question the provenance of scandalous information. I wonder if we're forgetting how to ferret out hidden secrets and genuine motivations.

Isn't it a little unfair to respond to things taken solely at face value? Shouldn't we take the time to understand the context of a person's actions? Shouldn't we educate ourselves about the circumstances that led to certain behavior?

At what point does "judgment" become "judgmental?" At what point does "judgemental" become "just mental?"

And when do we realize that people are judging our judgment[s]?

Photo credit: Consumerfriendly

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