The Problem Is Easy To Understand but Almost Impossible To Solve
The 2-step problem of consensus and coordination
There are important—if not critical—issues in the world, but addressing them poses a challenge. The first step is getting consensus on the best ideas—it is a process. It takes a lot of figuring out. People need to think, collaborate, uncover the relevant facts, analyze, and draw good conclusions. In other words, there are natural forces that must be overcome, and that’s ok—that’s just part of reasoning and being intelligent.
But even if you get consensus on a good idea, you still have to agree on what to do about it. That coordination is another process. What action is going to make a difference? Try to pass a bill? Protest? Boycott? And who has time, and when do they have time, and does the action require everyone to meet, and is that realistic/convenient? In other words, there are natural forces to overcome when coordinating people’s actions, and that’s ok too—that’s also part of the natural problem-solving process.
But what makes this problem much harder is the two clouds in the illustration above. On the left, people are busy with their own challenges, obligations, and personal goals, so the practical reality is they aren’t available to deal with every problem that crosses their path.
And the cloud on the right further complicates the problem. The truth is, a lot of people are compromised and aren’t interested in the truth, aren’t willing to be reasonable, or are just curiously slow to appreciate the rationale of what you’re saying—in other words, it seems like people are purposefully acting confused or undecided, because if it were a different situation, like some money was missing from their bank account, they would be so quick to get to the bottom of it and suddenly have sharp logic.
This same challenge to get consensus and coordination exists for everyday, close-to-home issues too, like the pros and cons of veganism at the family dinner table, or whether to forgive someone for their misbehavior instead of holding them accountable for a longer or indefinite period.
There is a huge, almost existential problem that is so simple to summarize, but where the solution is incredibly elusive.
See a different explanation for why social media isn’t leading to intelligent discourse
The “entertainment architecture”
Trying to Make Sense on Platforms Designed to Entertain Is Hopeless
If you’re trying to create intelligence on social media, you’re being bamboozled.