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Love songs are everywhere. But does anyone have a definition of love, which — people claim — makes the world go around? Sure, it’s easy to tell when you’re in love with someone. [The heart pounds and you act like an idiot.] But it’s much harder to say if you actually love someone.

Enter the mind of Harry Jenkins, as he is about to make love to Natasha,

And then he laughed at himself as he sank beneath the covers. No sane man would question such free and voluptuous pleasure, as if it could only be valued through thought. Only an idiot or a fool would try to analyze love and passion

Nonetheless, like the fool, I seek a definition. Perhaps it is the lawyer in me. On the subject of love, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, is a sobering read. All of us, supposedly, carry within us, an animus [if you’re female] and an anima [if you’re male], which is the idealized image of the person you love. And so, when you are in love you are projecting this idealized image on a real, live person who might be naturally quite entitled to be different.

After the honeymoon, those annoying little cracks in the image appear, which could certainly explain the high divorce rate. When you find the real person doesn’t exactly match your superimposed ideal, what do you do?

All of these thoughts led me to explore people’s ideas of all kinds of love, not just the romantic variety, in Final Paradox, the second in The Osgoode Trilogy.

Harry Jenkins is the lawyer protagonist throughout the trilogy, which contain storylines of murder and fraud. He is in the thrall of the beautiful Natasha. His aging father, who abandoned him as a child, has just asked his forgiveness. Harry can’t seem to find that in his heart. Natasha asks him—

What do you think love is?
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s about wanting someone as part of your life. Wanting them always with you.” He looked into her eyes. “Why? What do you think?”

“I think it’s about getting outside yourself and seeing another person’s life from their point of view. At least that’s a start,” Natasha replied.

Harry heard his father’s words. It’s all about you, is it? Would he always be the kid, he wondered?

Another character musing about love is Norma Dinnick — an elderly client of Harry’s who trips back and forth between lucidity and madness. She recollects her stew of feelings for various men.

Going back to her hotel, Norma tried to understand. She knew about affection and caring for Arthur, her husband, who kept her safe from the emptiness. But she did not understand this business of love, which David talked about. She did know that such emotions gave her a sense of power. The sheer lust she experienced in the presence of George made her feel weak and vulnerable.

Norma simply doesn’t understand about love and neither does Bronwyn — another character. An embittered soul, she has married a gay man and on her honeymoon – She wandered the narrow beach of sand and stone where the boats ferried back and forth to the grottos. No Peter. But then she saw him at a distance on the beach walking slowly with a younger man she did not know. Where had they come from? Right from the start, she had known. Of course, the bargain was unspoken but well understood. For money and security, Bronwyn had sacrificed any chance for love.

But in the end, Harry does begin to get it. In bed with the lovely Natasha, he was

…transported outside his own body, he was overcome with the desire to know the dreams, fantasies, and mysteries she held within. He would enter her world with love and understanding and never leave. The awe he felt in her closeness made his breathing slow and deepen in rhythm with hers. He watched his hand reach out of the shadows to smooth the sheet. She was at last in his bed and, fearing a mirage, he dared not wake her. In the past two weeks, his world had been shaken. His mind had become a jumble of colliding, conflicting events and consequences. Now he felt her power to draw his life together. A still peace gently settled over him like a silken web of meaning.

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Americans share fake news to fit in with social circles

  • Journalism and Facts
  • Social Media and Internet
  • Politics

Fear of exclusion contributes to spread of fake news, research finds

Read the journal article

  • Tribalism and Tribulations (PDF, 495KB)

WASHINGTON — Both conservative and liberal Americans share fake news because they don’t want to be ostracized from their social circles, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Conformity and social pressure are key motivators of the spread of fake news,” said lead researcher Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, an assistant professor of decision sciences at INSEAD, a business school in France. “If someone in your online tribe is sharing fake news, then you feel pressure to share it as well, even if you don’t know whether it’s false or true.”

The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The proliferation of fake news contributes to increasing political polarization and distrust of democratic institutions, according to the Brookings Institution. But fake news doesn’t always proliferate due to dark motives or a call for action. The researchers began studying the issue after noticing people in their own social networks sharing fake news seemingly without malicious intent or ideological purpose.

“Political ideology alone doesn’t explain people’s tendency to share fake news within their social groups,” Lawson said. “There are many factors at play, including the very basic desire to fit in and not to be excluded.”

One experiment analyzed the tweets and political ideology of more than 50,000 pairs of Twitter users in the U.S., including tweets sharing fake or hyper-partisan news between August and December 2020. (Political ideology was determined through a network-based algorithm that imputes ideology by looking at the types of accounts Twitter users follow.) The number of tweets between pairs of Twitter users in the same social circles were measured. Twitter users were less likely to interact with each other over time if one of them shared a fake news story and the other did not share that same story. The same effect was found regardless of political ideology but was stronger for more right-leaning participants.

A second experiment analyzed 10,000 Twitter users who had shared fake news in the prior test, along with another group that was representative of Twitter users in general. Twitter users who had shared fake news were more likely to exclude other users who didn’t share the same content, suggesting that social pressures may be particularly acute in the fake news ecosystem.

Across several additional online experiments, participants indicated a reduced desire to interact with social connections who failed to share the same fake news. Participants who were more concerned about the social costs of not fitting in were also more likely to share fake news.

While fake news may seem prolific, prior research has found that fake news only accounts for 0.15% of Americans’ daily media consumption, and 1% of individuals are responsible for 80% of fake news sharing. Other research found that election-related misinformation on Twitter decreased by 73% after Donald Trump was banned from the platform.

Many complex factors contribute to people’s decisions to share fake news so reducing its spread is difficult, and the role of social media companies isn’t always clear, Lawson said.

“Pre-bunking” methods that inform people about the ways that misinformation spreads and highlighting the importance of the accuracy of news can help reduce the spread of fake news. However, finding ways to ease the social pressure to conform in online spaces may be needed to start winning the war on misinformation, Lawson said.

Article: “Tribalism and Tribulations: The Social Costs of Not Sharing Fake News,” Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, INSEAD, Shikhar Anand, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and Hemant Kakkar, PhD, Duke University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online March 9, 2023.