A Plea for Mildly Disagreeing
from Studio Morrow's Thoughts on Things
Welcome to the first ever newsletter from Studio Morrow, serving you monthly hits of my POV on culture so you can form yours.
This first one is about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Just kidding I hadn’t thought about it at all until last week. But now that I’ve thought about it, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I mostly agreed with the points the podcast hosts Walter Pearce and Honor Levy were making, but on other points, I kind of disagreed with them. Not fully disagreed, just mildly.
10 years ago, this would have been unremarkable, but recently, it feels like I either wildly agree with people or wildly disagree, and nothing in between.
As I went on wet brain’s Discord, one of the last wholesome places on the internet (their server in particular, not Discord on the whole obviously), there were lots of kids talking about memes, fashion, but also, mildly disagreeing with each other.
I’m not a media genius for realizing we live in a polarized world where social media algorithms push us towards more extreme content and cancel culture has just become, well, culture. But I think a thing that’s happening to me - partially because of the fact that the right and the left have spent 18 months shouting at each other the whole time, partially because of the rise of social activism and probably even more because of an often vigilante-like attitude from the woke left encouraged by social media accounts like Diet Prada, is that I’ve started bucketing people I follow online into one of two camps: people I very much agree with, and those I very much disagree with.
And the way I interact with their content online follows suit. My brain goes into a kind of passenger seat mode. When consuming content from people who fall into the ‘agree’ camp, my thumb is immediately poised to smash that like button or share without fact checking. On the other hand, if I see content come into my feed from a person I disagree with, I can already feel myself fuming in the few seconds it takes me to clock the fact that they’ve just posted a random photo of their puppy vs. something about politics or the vaccine.
It made me realize I miss spaces on the internet like wet brain’s Discord where it’s acceptable to kind of disagree. To have a slightly adjacent opinion without getting up in arms about it. Where there’s a way to talk online that doesn’t feel like either screaming or literally screaming. Where the content you come across forces you to turn your brain on and form your own opinion about it that sits somewhere to the right or left of what you’ve just read, rather than exactly on top of it or diametrically opposite.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a POV, it’s amazing people give a shit about things and are fighting for them. What I have a problem with is the autopilot that it’s created in me when dealing with people’s content online, not just because binary polarization is like, definitely terrible for society, but also because it’s a pretty boring way to have a conversation.
My friend Dan asked a good question when we were talking about this the other day - “are social media platforms like Instagram/TikTok/Twitter/Facebook even built for conversations anymore?” The more I think about it, the more I feel like they aren’t. When your commentary is billboarded in a way that can so easily be used against you a ‘receipt’ to ruin your reputation, it’s natural that we’re all less a bit willing to engage.
Most people share social activism content written by others into their Instagram stories without hesitating, especially because the internet tells us that silence is unacceptable on every topic from Palestine to pronouns, but few of us feel comfortable actually creating our own commentary on top of that, especially if it’s about a minority group we don’t belong to. So instead of having a conversation, we just end up amplifying the same messages from the left or right, wildly agreeing or wildly disagreeing, but rarely with our own voices.
That’s why spaces like wet brain’s Discord feel so interesting to me right now. In the face of the dominant social media platforms that are stamping out nuanced dialogue, these spaces have become some of the last places on the internet we still critically listen and talk about things with each other.
Feel free to respond and mildly disagree with me :)
As a lil’ amuse-bouche between reading this email and getting on with the rest of your day, here are three things I liked on the internet this week:
Examining America As an Internet Aesthetic
Gucci launching a platform new designers
A very great conversation between Michaela Coel & Donald Glover
Thanks for subscribing & catch ya again next month!