Social media, politics, and the bubble of distraction

When the President changes our country so drastically, will we have a new concept of what’s normal? If our social media feeds consist of people who think just like us, how can we expect social change? And why do we always assume the future will be better than the past? In the latest episode of the Interesting People in Interesting Times podcast, Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game, explains what Trump’s lies do to your brain, why we fall for the same tricks every time, and how humanity is hardwired for hope–and why that’s problematic.

Konnikova discusses the idea of changing norms: how we behave as a society, where we get our ideas about how to act, and how fixed vs. malleable they are. She explains that what drives all human behavior is simple. We would much rather be liked, than we would to be right. “Throughout history, human beings want to go with the majority, rather than be the lone person doing the morally right thing to do,” she says.

While social norms can change very quickly — and especially so, when driven by someone in a position of authority — biases, on the other hand, are deeply set. And believe it or not, the most problematic bias we have as a society is our optimism. Humanity is hardwired for hope, and that’s what keeps getting us into trouble.

“Look at the Mueller investigations,” Konnikova says. “[Our reaction to that is] ‘Oh, well, this time, something’s actually going to stick.’ You could see it happening even before the election. People saying Donald Trump is never going to…

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