Ross Pomeroy has an interesting piece on RealClearPolitics that delves into the question as to why even Smart People post stupid stuff on social media, such as Twitter. He quotes a book called “Thinking Fast and Slow” which divides human modes of thinking into system 1 and system 2.

System 1 thinking consists of a quick, visceral reaction

Let us suppose President Donald Trump says or does something that triggers you. (For those who like the president, imagine someone like Hillary Clinton doing likewise.) If you take to Twitter, you have 140 characters to describe either the president’s or the would-be president’s ancestry, sexual habits, and probable destination.

It doesn’t take a lot of thought or time to say, “You suck!” on social media, hit the send key, and displaying your caustic observation to the entire world. This is the way flame wars start, a phenomenon that predates social media, first showing up on computer bulletin boards in the 1980s. Twitter is not very encouraging to lots of thought and analysis.

System 2 thinking consists of long, thoughtful analysis

Now, imagine that the same thing happens and you are someone like me who gets paid for writing opinion pieces. One cannot write “You suck!” in a 400 to 1000 word essay, which would get boring pretty quickly. One is forced by the nature of the medium to analyze and take some time to consider why what Trump said about immigration is so annoying or why Hillary Clinton’s thoughts on why she lost the election make one have a stomach ache.

One has to write a reasoned article that argues why what the president or the former presidential candidate is wrong. As a bonus, Twitter allows us to post a brief message linking to the article.

The great and the horrible thing about social media

The one aspect about social media is that everybody gets to express their opinion for all to share.

The good thing is that Twitter and Facebook democratize opinion sharing, creating a new medium for argument and debate. The sad thing is that there are little or no filters for fake news, uninformed statements, and ad hominem attacks. The lack of such discipline can cause even the most erudite person to sound like a street corner ranter.

Just compare the tweets offered by Bill Kristol to his long form articles. The difference could not be starker.

We leave with a good word of advice. If you like posting your opinions on social media, try finding a medium that forces you to be thoughtful and analytical. You’ll come across as more informed and a little less frightening.