The internet is a tough place to hold an argument. Debates pretty quickly polarise to extreme ends. Throw in what I like to call the “Meme Effect” where clever images, usually containing quotes or statistics, often attributed to (or on a photo of) a highly regarded celebrity, if you’re trying to make a positive point, or a hated politician or celeb, if you’re trying to discredit the information.

Often the quote is miscredited (seriously, Morgan Freeman isn’t THAT opinionated), entirely invented or simply out of context. Statistics are as bad, often false or badly used.But these images are so very easy to share, bouncing around the web, sometimes forever, attempting to make a point.

A second issue is the “Echo Chamber”. Where you only read sources and articles that agree with your already held opinion. So Guardian readers don’t read the Times (and vice-versa), so their opinion is almost exclusively formed by the editorial stance of their favoured paper. Wired has an excellent article on this, and how the internet makes this worse.

This has been seen recently here in the UK with the campaigns to Leave or Remain in the European Union. My Facebook newsfeed is filled top to toe with polarised opinions on either side, usually made via meme images. Most of one side has been filled with nationalistic rants and crazed hate filled diatribe regarding immigrants. The other features gushing praise with little criticism of all the wonderful and amazing things the EU has given us, supported by one-sided lists of who’s in and who’s out focussing more on personality than politics. And both sides flaunt statistics with impunity.

Neither seems to offer any grey space in the centre of the debate.

It’s not fair to blame this solely on the internet, the leaders of each of the EU arguments have done their worst to abuse stats, focus on single issues and ramp up the “fear”. The regular media to seem to wallow in the same narrow set of arguments.

But the internet, oh the internet distills this in the most miserable way.

 

A Graphical Representation of my Frustration!