Really enjoying the Ziporyn translation of Zhuangzi, how's this for a 4th century BCE description of social media:

Let me tell you a little more of what I've learned. Human interactions, when handled face-to-face, are founded on mutual trust. But when handled at a distance, they must depend on words to establish reciprocal loyalty. These words have to be transmitted by someone, and there is nothing in the world more difficult than communicating mutual esteem or mutual anger between two people.

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The esteem gets exaggerated into flattery and the anger into insult. These exaggerations then become outright lies, and once the lying starts trustworthiness is lost, and then the ability to communicate is destroyed-and perhaps the messenger as well. As the maxim says, "Transmit their usual characteristic inclinations, not their occasional exaggerations, and you can probably preserve yourself intact.

Another thing: when two people test their skills against one another, it starts out brightly enough but usually ends darkly; when it really gets extreme, they end up engaging in all sorts of outrageous tactics to defeat each other. A drinking ritual is orderly at first but usually ends up in turmoil, and when it really gets extreme, the amusements start to get perverse. All things are like this.

They begin in good faith, but in the end they get ugly. They start out simple but end up oversized and unwieldy. Words are like winds and waves, and actions are rooted in gain and loss. Winds and waves can easily shake a man, and gain and loss can easily endanger him.

So the rage comes forth for no apparent reason and the cunning words fly off on a tangent like the panicked cries of a dying animal with no time to choose.

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