Am I an Internet Person?

I was thinking about online polarization the other day and anti-elite sentiment, and I realized that despite what I'd like to believe, I'm an exhibit in the power of the internet. I often sympathize with the people termed "elites" — not financial elites, but academics and in many cases the media and mainstream but progressive politicians. So in this age of Brexit and Trump and Yellow Vests I've been inclined to think I'm not one of the anti-elite members of the public...

Until I thought about my views on animals and how I think what's happening to animals is a moral crisis of the first order. I've had these concerns since early on in college, but it did not dominate my thinking back then. Today, I see what's happening to animals as of overwhelming importance. (I've also come to be strongly aware of moral obligations to help others, the long-term future, and rationality, but those are perhaps less political and certainly less clearcut.) How did this come to be? Well, over the internet, where I met people, formed friendships, and joined organizations in which my thinking evolved.

(For that matter, it's worth noting that it's not clear outrage at animal agriculture is an anti-elite view I hold, as many academic elites and even some politicians and media elites recognize the problem with our treatment of animals more explicitly than many members of the public, although at the same time members of the public do seem to hold radical views as well.)

Do I think my mind has been distorted by the internet? Hell no. I think the way I view the world and act today is more in line with what I already believed, and online resources helped me get there. But from a third-person perspective, it would look like polarization, and it made me realize that what things look like from the outside does not translate as easily to the inner experience.

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