Bubbles and extrapolation

Earlier today someone tweeted the following: (I’m not linking to it, and I’m not seeking to out the person who wrote it; I just want to discuss the sentiment.)

“Is it just me or is it that people’s political opinions on NHSX have sunk the contact tracing app entirely and there’s no point doing it now? There’s no way in hell we’ll hit the density of users needed for it to work”

Compare and contrast:

Before she committed suicide, the Love Island presenter Caroline Flack expressed her anxiety that she was so well known & so instantly recognisable that she had no possible hope for a future where she wouldn’t be constantly plagued by her past.

(I am not commenting on the veracity of the claims against her, nor on their seriousness).

I was barely aware of Caroline Flack’s existence. I could have walked past her in the street and have no idea who she was. I was aware Love Island existed as a show but I couldn’t have confidently named a single person involved in it.

I’m not saying this to try to convey that as a Mature and Sophisticated Person I should be applauded on my lack on knowledge of something as low-brow as Love Island. I am simply trying to convey that she was outside my bubble.

I have the bubble of my immediate friends and family. I have the bubble of my work colleagues. I have my carefully curated social media echo chambers. I have my areas of interest, my cultural touchstones, the ‘famous’ people I look up to and the people I’ve heard of, who I hate or love-to-hate. Caroline Flack wasn’t in my bubble. I wondered, sadly, when I heard she’d expressed how her celebrity had trapped her, if she might have in fact passed entirely without notice if she’d gone to some of the places I frequent.

So, back to that tweet. This person is sowing Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt about a product intended to help make a horrible situation a bit better. However, I reckon ‘most’ people aren’t aware that NHSX exists as a specific entity, and ‘most’ people don’t have an political opinion about it.

Bottom line: over-extracting from a small data set can be deadly.

Bonus subscribers’ content:

In scrutinising my bubbles, I realise that many of my friends are white, male and very clever. In the main, I love you all. And I’m not saying that the friends I have who are not also white, male and very clever aren’t also guilty of the following on occasions. But, for the most part, it’s the white, male and very clever of you who do this. So listen up:

You are not the Messiah. You are not the only one who has spotted a possible flaw in the plan. The entire responsibility to scrutinise and hold to account does not fall solely on your shoulders. Using your platform, whatever it might be, to simply denigrate the work of others is not constructive. Sowing Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt when you know perfectly well there are other people who are better qualified than you to evaluate the risks of a particular venture is not helpful. You want to blow off some steam about how shit everything is and how the proposed solution might not work? Write a diary.