Breakfast of Champions is a satire about America, describing, from a I’m-not-from-the-Earth point of view, what we’re all about. The following is a passage describing a science fiction book written by a prominent character in the story, Kilgore Trout.
And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: “Ideas on Earth were badges on friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.
“The ideas Earthlings held didn’t matter for hundreds of thousands of years, since they couldn’t do much about them anyway. Ideas might as well be badges as anything.
“They even had a saying about the futility of ideas: ‘If wishes were horses, begars would ride.’
“And then Earthlings discovered tools. Suddenly agreeing with friends could be a form of suicide or worse. But agreements went on, not for the sake of common decency or self-preservation, but for friendliness.
“Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead. And when they built computers to do some thinking for them, they designed them so much for wisdom as for friendliness. So they were doomed. Homicidal beggars could ride.”
This reminds me so brilliantly of the Twitter positivity ecochamber we so frequently see. Why it makes me throw up a little in my mouth when I see some influential person only tweet out the posts of their closest five circle of friends or otherwise, business, independent of the quality of their content.
Why it equally makes me bitter when I view the negative left who form the other side of the coin, ranting with negativity over and over on SEOMoz, Google or otherwise without ever offering a positive opinion on something great they might do. And it goes on – forever. Or at least until a new pessimist is born to take their place.
Friends agree with friends, in order to express friendliness.
Enemies disagree with enemies, in order to express enmity.
So it goes.