On the Well Astonishing Verdicts on Social Media

Published on January 21, 2024, filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

We may speak anything from 470,000,000 to 860,000,000 words in our lifetime.

Although these estimates don’t include written words, let’s assume they are covered by these numbers.

Let’s then use Twitter/X for a representative social media platform, and an average of 6 words per tweet (and, therefore, social media message). *

And let’s say that any given person may block or “cancel” another person for a single message (i.e., for 6 words).

That would mean that it’s possible that 1.277 × 10–8 or 0.000001277% of what anyone ever—ever—says or writes can get them blocked or canceled. For something done in a similarly miniscule fraction of their lifetime.

Now, this isn’t an argument not to block or cancel. It’s just to say that the scale is—astonishing. â€ 

If you’re interested, I’ve commented on the public discourse in other places, as in Reasons to Listen to Whom You Don’t Agree With, The Reverse A-Hole Rule of Social Media and Why Online Communication Is So Not-Great. But these are my personal views, and I’ve put together a whole book about how easy it is to find fault in everything.

* This 6-words number came up before the end of Twitter’s 140-characters time, however later data suggests that little changed, with a similarly low count of characters and words used. Even if word count had doubled in relation to Twitter’s changing of tweet length, the point made in this post would still hold, so I didn’t scrape more data.

† Well, one could also argue that we’re not good with numbers. That’s at least my take, having learned how we may even miss how much 1,000 is.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!