My Social Media Hiatus
By Bryan Caplan
I’ll be travelling most of the next month, so this is a fine time to officially announce my election-year hiatus from social media.
Never fear, I will continue blogging for EconLog. I will continue promoting my work on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll still use social media to publicize social events, especially Capla-Con 2020. However, from today until March 1, 2021, I will not participate in intellectual discussions on Facebook or Twitter.
My reason is simple: People go mad during presidential election years – and I refuse to be part of the madness.
No, what horrified me in 2016 was the transformation of many of my friends.
What transformation did I witness? I looked at many people that I had known for years, thinkers that I believed were – whatever our disagreements – rational and decent human beings. And I watched as they willingly surrendered to partisan irrationality and myopic rage. I saw brilliant minds proudly endorse frankly stupid positions. Even when I agreed with the conclusions, the arguments were awful. And arguments should not be awful. The whole thing was about as entertaining as watching a bunch of my friends inject heroin.
Despite all this, I stayed on social media. I tried to interpret the situation charitably. Perhaps the fault was mine – and even the best of thinkers falls short on occasion, right? Yet continuing the conversation with a calm and friendly tone did me little good. By the end of 2016, I had lost close friends. When I realized what had happened, I tried to win them back. I would take any of them back today, no questions asked. Yet the sad reality, I fear, is that these friends are forever lost to me.
This time around, then, I’m going to skip this ugliness, retreating deep into my Bubble. I’ll return when the collective anger has cooled. And no, I’m not defaulting on my “civic duty.” I’m doing my civic duty right now. As Jason Brennan (The Ethics of Voting) and Chris Freiman (Why It’s OK to Ignore Politics) ably argue, you are under no obligation to participate in this election. If you participate, though, you are obliged to remain a rational and decent human being the entire time.