Why social media loves dogmatism

Not a day goes by where we don’t see tweets and post headlines telling us “you must” or “you need” and similar dogmatic injunctions. Is it because we like being told what to do? Is it because the authors are megalomaniacs?

No. We write headlines like these because the statistics tells us they work.

Does that mean the reader is at fault?

Yes and no, though mostly no. We’re rushed; we want direction; we want ideas; we want something quickly scanned – if only because there is so much other stuff to check out too.

And of course, no one wants to admit to not knowing, even though no one “knows.” The Internet, social media … it all evolves in the moment, as we go. So it’s nice to see “you must” because it suggests certainty, though nothing is certain.

However, the result has all the appearance of an over-simplified world, at least online. Everything is binary. Yes or no. True or false. Either, or.

Simple. Except when it’s not, which is most of the time.

If it were as simple as social media makes it appear, we’d all be billionaires. World hunger would have ended long ago. All parties would be elected to govern – simultaneously.

In a way, when we’re online we create a world of easy answers. We look for them; we share them with one another. But few things are easy.

We don’t want to hear, “Depending on the context, this might improve … might help … might enhance … might work.”

We want the word “might” replaced by the word “will.”

I know I do. But it’s awfully frustrating when something I “must” do doesn’t work and I realize there is a great deal more to it than following step-by-step instructions.

And it’s darned puzzling when something I “must” do does work, and I don’t know why.

By the way … I just did a variation on the “must-need” injunction. My headline suggests the answer to a question but, if you’ve read this far, you know there is no answer here. Just some speculation.

Rather than answering a question, I guess I’m asking one.