We see that everywhere – the BBC, blogs, news and tech sites.
The question : Does it narrow one’s interests or widen it?
On the one hand, it draws attention to that which we might not have previously been interested in, but on the other, it validates such issues or areas as worthy of interest and relegates others the position of relatively less worth.
But the most crucial point here is that such ‘lists of worth’ are not determined by significance, insight or profundity, but rather associates these with popularity. And given that nations that are most ‘connected’, the young and impressionable, the tired-after-work-and-wanna-just-relax, trend-imbibing ‘fashionistas’, and educated-just-for-economic-utility types, serve as the ‘hits’ behind what’s ‘most shared/watched/listened to/read/popular, it seems that the main value of what’s most shared/watched/listened to/read/popular lies in its being a significant index of the intellectual status of the masses and the developmental potentials of those whom are led by it.
This reminds me of all those times I entered Chinese shops in singapore and was told, most confidently, that product x is good solely because ‘it is popular’. Given the conformity-mindedness of Confucian/Legalist societies where people tend to form a queue simply because there is one, I tended, thereafter, to do my research online via relevant information sources in the west, and shrug off ‘customer service’ upon entering shops with my mind fully made up as to what I was going for as opposed to allowing it to be insulted with advice to do as everyone else.
In my advice to my Chinese acquaintances aspiring to be political critics, I tell them to not underestimate the significance of the masses when it comes to getting it wrong or not entirely right, or their penchant for thinking they are right because everyone else think similarly. Hence, when everyone is looking one way, one can use that as an indicator as to what is being neglected.
(1)Given that the root of all evil lies in that which is perceived to be good, and this (2)being founded on the certainty of the fallibility of humanity, (3)whilst this, in turn, is exacerbated by the belief that we’re living in the promised land of ‘modern times’, looking away from that which the masses fixate on will let you discover much that is relevant for appreciating variables that are relevant for a more complete comprehension of reality - and, as a consequence, puts you in a better position to appreciate the deficiencies amongst the myriads poised in the opposite direction as well. I'm not saying that we ought to simply take the opposite stance for wisdom. What I'm saying is that if we are going to afford an hour to what everyone is looking at, then we ought to set aside 2 for that which skips their billboard-fixated attention. [This also forms the basis for the argument for multiculturalism as opposed to monoculturalism]
The result? You might be far less of a hit, but you can be rest assured that they’re going to be relatively far off the mark.