In real life you get exposed to moderate opinions, because conversations are friendlier when other people can look you in the eye. But even though moderates make up a majority of the spectrum on any issue, most don't feel the need to wade into the abyss that is online discourse. When you begin to consider horror the norm you have to constantly remind yourself that countless non-crazies are lurking in the background. Otherwise you start to think that most of the country shares the beliefs of the guy screaming, "Kill Obummer and his monkey friends," and you end up with a view of the world that's as depressing and unrealistic as theirs.
You Start Viewing Local Information as Unimportant
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Hey, would you like to know how the latest Nicolas Cage thriller, Left Behind, is doing critically and commercially? The Internet has an ironic love for it, which means I could summarize half a dozen reviews and the opening weekend results. In fact, because the Internet generally loves pop culture, I could probably tell you the reception of every major movie and video game released recently. I can also tell you all about the latest American political scandal, or draw the latest battle lines in Syria, or where to find the newest "Han Solo with breasts" porn site that was created within the last six minutes.
Another marriage saved. Thank you, Internet!
When you get your news from the Internet you tend to only learn about what the Internet thinks is important -- big global affairs, American politics, news of the weird, sports, and pop culture. Local news? Forget it -- unless something in your city exploded, it's probably not interesting enough for the Internet to care about. For that kind of stuff, you have to turn on your TV like a caveman.
So I can confidently brief my friends and family on the current geopolitical situation in the Middle East, yet stare at them blankly when they ask me what I think about the dude who got murdered down the block last week. More often than not, I learn about something the mayor said or some crime that happened downtown by listening to my friends talking about it and then feigning knowledge.
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"I as well cannot believe that the mayor robbed a liquor store. Current events, am I right?"
When the Internet (and see how I'm already referring to it as a hive mind again?) talks about a subject, you go and read up on it extensively, because it must be important and you want to look like a not-dumbass. But you don't go out of your way to read about anything the Internet doesn't discuss at length, because how big of a deal could it be if the rest of the world doesn't care?
On some level, you know that's silly, because while someone who lives in North Africa won't care about the new restaurant opening a few blocks away, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't go check it out. But you have to consciously remind yourself to follow local news, even though the delayed opening of a local nursing home isn't trending on social media. Otherwise you could be more well-informed on world events than anyone you know and still come across like an ignoramus. For most people, local news is more important, since they have a tendency to actually go out and interact with the places and people that get reported on.
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"You didn't hear that Jim-Bob replaced the diner stools? It was on the news, man."
I'm not saying you should ignore world news, mind you. I'm just saying that it's important to remember your own backyard, or else the municipal government might announce a purge, and you won't have a clue until someone's chain-sawing through your front door.
You can read more from Mark, or spend way too much time with his writing on his website.
For more from Mark, check out The 5 Most Aggressively Crazy Websites on the Internet and The 5 Best Places to Make (Creepy) Friends.