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Is critical thinking irrelevant because of social media?

developing critical thinking skills

Here’s my answer Steve:

It’s a circular orbit in every sense. It has made more obvious what we already know: Critical thinking is non-existent on the web. Or anywhere else for that matter.

And it comes back to the same tune we’ve talking about for what seems like forever: Where all think alike, nobody thinks too much.

We’ve gotten to the point where people are passing around dogmas freely. Even in areas where there is supposed to be critical thinking, there is a complete lack perspective. I’m also starting to see that most think that the only ones who should have perspective are scientists, poets, philosophers and such. Simply because they have more “free time” to think.

In reality, time for reflection is a valuable skill we should cultivate in others.

I’ve written about this before, and how I think Facebook is the biggest circular orbit ever. The niceness and vagueness of it all is very predictable. People liking every other comment just because the other guy commented. I even like to say that if my friends don’t challenge me, they are not really my friends. Harsh? It’s the truth. That is why they are are my friends, because I challenge them in every way. What’s wrong with wanting for others to be the best they could be?

Then, there are the other situations where it is obvious that someone is just putting in his/her two cents just to chime in. Never thinking of adding any value. Just regurgitating what others say with the intent of taking away. This reminds me of this timeless quote: “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something.”  —  Saul Bellow

Don’t say something. Have something to say.

But then I remember that the few of us who are in the business of stirring the pot, practice critical thinking with our eyes closed.

Have a Heart Beat

If I could frame this issue around one key principle, it is this: Have a point of view. Because those who stand for everything, stand for nothing.

To make the point more obvious, last week I wrote about how 37 Signals celebrates innovation. Today, I will use them as an example again. This time, read what 37 Signals co-founder Jason Fried has to say about growth:

“I’m a fan of growing slowly, carefully, methodically, of not getting big just for the sake of getting big. I think that rapid growth is typically of symptom of… there’s a sickness there. There’s a great quote by a guy named Ricardo Semler, author of the book Maverick. He said that only two things grow for the sake of growth: businesses and tumors. We have 35 employees at 37signals. We could have hundreds of employees if we wanted to–our revenues and profits support that–but I think we’d be worse off.”

I share his point of view.

And, if you pay attention you will see that there are many other examples out there. Even high-profile people like Shia LaBeouf being criticized for not doing what is rational in Hollywood.

Anyway, critical thinking is the ability to evaluate options, weigh alternatives, and make informed decisions. How?

Here are three tips:

  1. Question assumptions.
  2. Adopt different perspectives.
  3. See potential.

Bottom line: Don’t follow the same road as everyone else, have a point of view.

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