June 9, 2018

Embracing the Krassensteins

The EmbraceWhen we run across someone who seems to be on "our side" of a particular issue or set of issues that is important to us, it is only natural that we'd react positively. Here's a person who seems to want the same things we want, who has some of the same goals we do, and so on. It makes sense that we'd be predisposed to view such a person in positive terms.

This effect seems to be amplified to some degree if the person is famous or very popular. When we see someone with a few hundred thousand followers on Twitter saying a lot of things we agree with, it tends to capture our attention in a different way than if the person has 20 followers. Perhaps we are even more likely to agree with them or to want to associate with them.

This happens frequently on social media, especially when it comes to politics. If you oppose President Trump, for example, and you see others who are expressing their opposition, you are more likely to follow them, retweet their content, etc. And if they are very popular, you might be even more likely to do so. It makes sense that you'd want to amplify a message you agree with and support those who are broadcasting it. This is how politics works, after all.

Once in a while, something goes amiss with what I've just described. It can usually be traced back to promoting someone without knowing anything about them. Once in awhile, we realize that the person or persons we have been promoting might not be such good actors after all. Think about all those who promoted content they would later learn was "fake news" or even Russian bot accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Or for a specific example, think about all those on the left who continue to promote the Krassenstein brothers in spite of the troubling allegations against them.

I get it. You don't like Trump. They don't seem to like Trump, and they are Twitter superstars with a large following. It makes sense that you might be inclined to promote them. But I wonder if this is one of those cases where you might be more reluctant to do so if you knew a bit more about them. Or maybe this is one of those cases where you've decided that what they have to say matters more than anything they might have done.