When a Pundit Is a Pundit (and a Scourge)

This was originally written on my Mastodon account. Current circumstances are very good for reminding me of the ephemeral nature of social media, so I’m copying it here.

I’m muting a bunch of pundits around here again, both because of the Twitter migration and because I had to start over with a new profile. That means I have to know what a pundit is. So.

It’s not just a highly opinionated person, or a person who’s opinionated on multiple topics. I like following opinionated people. I value following opinionated people who challenge the ways I interact with the world.

No, to me a pundit is defined by two things.

1. They treat news and persuasion as “content”. They’re filling space (columns, timelines) because that’s what they do rather than because they had something substantive (knowledge, perspective, solutions) to add. And their purpose usually stops at “engagement”. There’s nothing *wrong* with engagement, but it’s a perverse incentive on its own.

2. Because their content is meaningless except as content, they don’t engage with its effects. Were they wrong? Did they make life worse for other people? [shrug] You can’t win them all. Time to create more content.

I didn’t boost pundits on Twitter, but I also didn’t hide them and deny them access to my cortisol pump. That hasn’t helped me recover from activist burnout. So I’m muting them here. No more demands that I look *for the sake of looking*. No more free-floating opinions from people unfussed by being repeatedly wrong.

It won’t eliminate disturbing knowledge or SIWOTI, but it will mean they come from people I respect, who I know aren’t poking at my stress for mere fun or profit.

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When a Pundit Is a Pundit (and a Scourge)
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