I have an important announcement to make: I’ve learned something — and what I learned has helped me to change my course.
Many years ago, I started using Facebook (in large part because one of my friends said “facebook” was college slang for ‘[student] directory’ — and indeed, it may have been that at the time [I think ca. 2007] ). Shortly after that, I started using the R-word to describe the way it (and also similar media properties) work(s). However, my description was not well understood, and it caused a lot of confusion (eventually leading me to publish a clarifying article).
Yet the article stuck with the R-word — and therefore it remained disconcerting to most who read it.
Many years went by, and then along came a big man who talked a lot about a big schtick which he referred to as “fake news”. I felt vindicated. The big man became a leader, and then all of a sudden there was much more recognition for the phenomenon referred to by the F-word (which was essentially the same thing I had been referring to for well over a decade with the R-word).
Well, today I am introducing a new and improved R-word: “rational”. There are many positive things about this new R-word — and especially positive is that it already has a widely accepted polar opposite: the negative term “irrational”.
I have never liked the I-word — it didn’t really makes sense to me, because I always thought that there is actually always some sort of logic to irrational thoughts (who knows? maybe this was an irrational idea? 😉 )
But my insight today is indeed newfangled: Maybe “rationality” is not a matter of the way individuals think, much in the same way that “language” is not a matter of the way individuals understand themselves, but rather a matter of how members of a community understand each other.
So from now on I think I will refer to “rational media” vs. “irrational media”. I wonder whether people will immediately understand this to mean that “gobbledygook” like “facebook” and/or “google” are irrational – I hope so!