Eat your vegetables

There’s a great piece by Parker Molloy about the “eat your vegetables” argument over social media: the idea that if you use social media, you should be compelled to read or hear views you disagree with.

Like Molloy, I disagree.

People get to pick what they watch on TV, right? And they get to decide which movies and concerts they want to see, yeah? Same thing for what books, newspapers, and magazines they read, correct? And people get to make their own decisions about who they hang out with, right?

So why is social media different? Why is there this push to ensure that people can’t curate their own online experiences? It’s a weirdly paternalistic, “eat your vegetables” argument, except that these “vegetables” don’t actually have any nutritional value.

…I was (and currently am) questioning the premise of the argument that social media platforms have a responsibility to show us “views we disagree with” in the name of understanding the broader world.

The “views we disagree with” are rarely left-of-centre ones; they’re the ones constantly churned out by right-wingers and their friends in the press. And that means they are not views that we are unaware of, arguments we have not already debunked a million times. We’re not scared of them. We’re bored senseless by them.

What’s going on here is a deliberate twisting, yet again, of free speech. You absolutely have the right to believe what you like and say what you want within your own circles. What you don’t have is the right to force anybody else to listen to you.



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