See what you want to see

Posted by on Oct 4, 2008 in Uncategorized | One Comment


Been following the US election v closely, even though I am a Brit, living in Britain and not a US citizen.

It just feels as if it is inappropriate to comment. Indeed, as Jonathan Freedland notes, this inappropriateness is often made very and directly clear by certain US citizens.

What strikes me – from reading the online comments about what peeps are saying about the Republican VP Candidate – both over there or over here – is how partisan folk are. How they see what they want to see and not what is said.

Comments are more like expressions of tribal loyalty. They seek agreement or vanquishing those who disagree.

As if the commenter sensed a threat or potential damage to the tribe or its interests…rather than a balanced view of what's being discussed. I'm beginning to feel that this is a large factor shaping the tone of quite a lot of online commenting (of course, anomymity etc help encourage it).

(Just so you The same is true btw over here and here re reappointment of Peter Mandelson to Brown's cabinet)

On the other hand, Adriana has pointed out this interesting piece of research from Wharton:

 "We focus on incidental emotions, emotions triggered by a prior experience that is irrelevant to the current situation"

How often is this what's going on? Other unhappiness/fear/general grumpiness being played out?

Just think it's important to remember that what folk do and say (online) is often not much to do with the thing they're talking about or commenting on but rather a. their interest group's interest b. how they feel because of other things…(and much of that will be the result of interaction with other peeps)

1 Comment

  1. David Burn
    October 5, 2008

    “Tribal loyalty” is a blinding issue in America. The nation is in crisis. We need to pull together and identify solutions to our common problems, but we fail time and again to act rationally or for the common interest.
    All the anti-Palin Tweets I’ve been seeing from the partisan left, simply fail to grasp that plainspoken “I won’t raise your taxes” messages work. It’s a message and a style that connects with a large segment of the voting population. But the left doesn’t want to accept this hard fact, it would rather make snide comments that lead to nothing but more ineptness.
    As opposed to the Republicans as I am personally, I’m absolutely disgusted by the cluelessness of the Dems. The Dems are inept, have been inept and continue to be inept. Proof of this declaration is everywhere. Take the current Congress. The American people wanted out of the war two years ago, and where are we today? Have we moved even an inch toward that goal? No.
    Both parties in America represent global business interests (that’s what Imperial power does). They have for decades. The problem for the Dems is they try to dance around this basic reality in the public arena, which costs them precious attention and resources. In other words, they’re conflicted. The Republicans, on the other hand, just step up to the mic and lie. It’s a much simpler, more effective, means of doing business. It’s immoral, but it works for them.