Image by Peter Zamiska
Source: Image by Peter Zamiska

In today's world, condemnation seems to come at the speed and simplicity of a click or like. It's a limbic or visceral response that seems to leave the neocortex out of this dynamic. An image without context or witty slogan drives action along a slippery slope of intended and unintended consequences. And the result can be catastrophic.

Just ask United Airlines.

Of all the visuals and video dominating the cybersphere (yes, I'll spare you another gratuitous display) here's one that doesn't often get as much attention. It's the stock price and the loss of almost $1 billion in market capitalization.

Yahoo Finance
Source: Yahoo Finance

I wonder if a billion dollars is the price to pay for this transgression? I also wonder what sort of "knee-jerk" reaction may be driving this and how the focal point—United—might be both culprit and victim in this event. And make no mistake, my reference to "knee-jerk" is in reference to both United and the social outcry.

It's not uncommon to find ourselves in a similar position where fate drives us to action. It really happens all the time. From a police officer acting in a split second to a parent on an soccer field responding to emotional call. More and more, the arbiter of what's right is the smartphone and the image that first becomes ubiquitous, then becomes truth. And it's odd truth at that. The intellectual construct comfortably rests as visual reality or at other times, as the tyranny of the perceived majority.

It seems that today, the fuse is lit very quickly. And that fuse is evolving to be shorter and shorter so that blast of information, emotion and reaction is functionally instantaneous. Perhaps there isn't even a fuse. The tweet or post is self-igniting and there's no fail-safe. And those of us who live in glass houses might regret the destructive power that can come with a swipe or click. Today's social media provides the power to put you on both the giving and receiving end of a good "knee-jerk" response or, as many have learned, a good, life-changing kick in the ass.

So, I'm going take sides here.

I'm taking the side of reason—the side of the neocortex that seems to get over-powered by the lizard that lives deeper in our brains. Evolution has given mankind a gift of reason. Let's try not to let technology and our smartphones trick us into activating our flight or fight response. That trip might not be worth the fare.

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