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Watch out

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I attended one of the neighborhood watch programs in which Ginger Campbell was a presenter ("The Pitchfork and the Mouse," Oct. 22). I found her presentation laced with various stereotypes. Anyone with a hoodie, tattoos or any unknown young person was waiting to steal from you, or was a gang banger, or a druggie with ill intent, or was from the Mexican Mafia. I was shocked as to how opinionated Ginger Campbell was in giving us a supposed factual presentation. The only reason why I didn't walk out was I didn't want to embarrass my neighbors. But I never went back to other meetings either.

Scott Oberlies, Blue Lake


New technologies outrun man's moral capacity to use them wisely. No technology, social media or otherwise, has ever improved human nature.

Thus technology has an interminable history as the source of both good and evil, nuclear energy being a prime example. "The release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking," Einstein said.

The social media evince a lack of thinking, never mind the way we think.

The most trenchant observation in Ms. Stansberry's account came from Aaron Balick, author of The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: Social media worsen the destructive consequences of immediacy. Passion precedes prudence, the keyboard is in motion before the mind is in gear. Sound judgment and critical thinking shrivel and dissolve. Why?

"The two things most opposed to good counsel are haste and passion," Thucydides observed. Per your cover story, haste and passion are the enemies of public safety.

Social media stir boorishness, bullying, bad manners, incivility, small talk, superficiality, insolence, disrespect, incorrigible triviality of mind — and Herculean violence (viz., ISIS).

Social media traduce comity, courtesy, good manners, deliberation, depth, dignity, reserve, reticence and thoughtfulness.

Nearly everything written and transmitted in a hurry would be revised, probably withdrawn, if immediacy were exchanged for reflection. The ancient Chinese had a saying: Wait 10 years before publishing.

A further point: Social media are lionized as strengthening democracy. It is to be regretted that democracy is often a euphemism for mediocrity and the cult of the lowest common denominator (witness that promiscuous tweeter Donald Trump).

What impeaches democracy, said Churchill, "is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

Or as the dyspeptic H.L. Mencken put it, "Democracy is the pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."

Ignorance metastasizes in the social media, compromising not only public safety (the earliest intelligence is usually mistaken) but also the public mind.

Paul Mann, McKinleyville


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