P.1.2 Narrow Down Your Research

Contagion

contagion    –    coincidence   –   silences    –    matrix   –   reactive

Contagion would be the word I would use to describe my phenomenon in its entirety. I wish to explicitly state why conspiracy theories are detrimental to society and how the internet plays such a critical role. Contagion stems from latin word “contagion” which means to make contact in a negative way and is now referred to “a communicable disease; a harmful or corrupting influence”. In the past conspiracy theories were spread by word of mouth and would become obsolete if there wasn’t someone to continue the theory. Nowadays humans become less important in the transmission of information, humans only exist to receive. The spread of misinformation was simplified through two very important roles, cyber bots and packaging. Misinformation is spread by automated bots that push information that corresponds with their directive. Another role that determines the success of the spread is packaging, the information has to be ridiculous enough to catch the attention of users but also carry an ulterior motive.

Coincidence stemmed from the definition of  “exact correspondence in substance or nature” to currently being defined as “occurrence or existence during the same time”. Neither definition implies that occurrence at the same time results in a relationship of any value. Coincidences often are seen as a conclusion in conspiracy theories. The logical fallacy is that reasoner is trying to end with what they began with.

Silence is the “muteness, state of being silent”. Its meaning has not taken much transformation over time but in my meaning of silences I define it as “absence of”, which plays a role in comprehending data but also breaking down the complexities of information we see on the internet (memes, articles, photos). If something aligns too well with your ideals you always have to take a look at what’s missing. Media is often framed to cater to certain people, leaving out information that doesn’t fit the narrative. Ignoring silences in the narrative is how conspiracies successfully spread, they often leave out opposing ideals, deeming them as fake. Often these ignoring these absences is what make the aligning coincidences seem even more factual. 

The word matrix has definitely evolved over time starting with “matrice, ‘uterus, womb’ from Old French matrice”. In a way matrix still embodies its original definition, as an origin of something or “embedding or enclosing mass” from the 1640s. Now it exists as an array of possible combinations of truth-values, which is a clear way to define the range of truth something holds. The reason conspiracy theories live for so long is because truth and false are relative. 

Reactive stems from the word react and means to  show a response to a stimulus. Under the umbrella of my phenomenon to be seen as reactive has a negative connotation. A word unique to the past couple of decades is reactivism, the act of engaging in activism or politics primarily on social media and in response to an event. Being reactive or participating in reactivism is seen almost as a bystander activity, the opposite of being proactive. The consequences of being reactive often result in a large detrimental event occurring and then provoking a response, instead of being preventative. 

What are the psychological anomalies that create the desire to form connections between coincidences?

What sort of companies hire/buy bots?

How does the influence of social media affect the political climate?

How do we prevent echo chambers with the narrative created by algorithms?

In what way do memes play a role in the spread of misinformation?

Citations

Silence (n.). (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.etymonline.com/word/silence