Blog posts may be the best place for “thought experiments” suggests Danielle to Robert in a discussion that is as much about their criticism of a recent ‘tweet’ by Professor Jordan Peterson, as it is about the social platform on which he made it.
“We are witnessing a cultural sea change,” notes Robert, “with Twitter, Facebook, and social media, just within the last decade or so.” Now a perpetual source for more controversies, on-line social media has become the “global village” predicted by Marshall McLuhan, whose infamous phrase “the medium is the message” takes on a literal meaning in the context of today’s technologies – and discussion.
Traditionally expressed forms of commentary may no longer apply and may in fact be dangerous in the courts of public opinion – particularly on the social platform known as ‘Twitter.’
Just ask Jordan Peterson, whose ‘tweet’ on the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (“if appointed, he should step down”), potentially revealed more about Peterson’s fundamental philosophy and political inclinations than did his many hours of speaking on other social media, like YouTube and Facebook.
Criticisms of Peterson’s tweet from the very community that supported him in his own battle against political correctness were blunt and to the point. (This actually speaks well to Peterson’s core base of supporters, who in their criticisms have demonstrated that they are motivated by principle, and not by a cult of personality or populism.)
Regrettably, Peterson’s follow-up rationalizations for his initial tweet were even less principled and unfocused, as he cited ‘general discomfort’ and other considerations not relevant to the determination of Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence.
Beyond the philosophical implications, what’s the lesson to be learned from all of this? Perhaps it is simply this: When the medium becomes as significant as the message, don’t get caught in the ‘Twitter trap.’ Be sure to post to a platform that’s Just Right for what you’re trying to say.