When I write these words, the war in Ukraine still isn't over. And it's hard to tell how much of this tragedy is still ahead of the innocent Ukrainian nation. However, even the most dreadful events can have some positive side effects. The positive result may be entirely disproportionate, but it exists.
In this case, the impulse for the positive effect was the insolent, deceptive propaganda of the Russian regime. The Russians have no inhibitions to distort the facts and distort reality. They reject facts, ignore logic, and derail any attempts of constructive discussions with techniques like "whataboutism".
All of that with total premeditation - to confuse the public opinion and wreak havoc and doubt in whole societies.
But they were too shameless about that. The world (or at least - quite a big part of it) decided to cut the crap off and call bullshit what it really is. In just a few weeks, the public awareness on topics like "troll farms", "fact-checking", or even "OSINT" raised significantly. There's still a lot of work to be done, but many people I know (and are not technical or fully up-to-date with modern media manipulation techniques) are now far less trustful in what they read online. We don't like to be fooled - especially in such a cynical way.
Good. We've learned to appreciate linear thinking (again).
You're likely confused by that term (linear thinking), so let me clarify its meaning.
Linear thinking is the way of ideation (more fancy word for thinking ;P) where every conclusion is based (so it can be traced from) another conclusion (some existing solution) or fact (previously acquired data). It's purely logical, down to axioms (thoughts that don't have to be proven).
Linear thinking was always used (since ancient times) in problem-solving. Unfortunately, it's not easy - it requires:
- a certain level of intelligence (a "capacity" to do reasoning)
- solid foundation (repository of knowledge/facts, so you don't start on level zero)
- enough grit do conduct the disciplined train of thought until the very end
The last ten years or so have brought a vast crisis of linear thinking:
- It's considered something that violates the principle of equity (not everyone has the same potential of linear thinking ...).
- Facts are considered far less important than how we feel about something (or to be precise - how the recipient of the message could feel).
- We intuitively counter objective truth if something else (even contradictory) feels (more) right.
- We tend to favor what the people who we identify with (with whom we belong together) say (even if the facts tell something else).
These are the main reasons behind the "meme culture", fake news, polarization within so-called echo chambers, etc. And their dreadful derivatives: "wokeness", cancel culture, the role of celebrities in shaping the public opinion, the rejection of merit-based authority. Some do call it - the madness of crowds.
Who knows, maybe the tsunami of shock inflicted by the repugnant propaganda that has followed Putin's invasion was the first step in the renaissance of linear thinking.
People were getting so many contradicting messages (that were mocking their intelligence and twisting the most apparent facts), that they've begun opposing the flock instincts. So they've started thinking for themselves - or at least verifying the facts (sources, trustworthiness, logic behind them, veracity & integrity). And rebuke/advise those who don't (and spread/promote the toxic crap).
Maybe I'm blinded by my own optimism. Maybe the effect will be short-lived. But maybe there's indeed a spark of hope for the glorious return of reason.