The outrage on social media

I read a post recently over at Atheist Revolution in which the author wrote of how he’d decided to stop watching cable news back in December. He noted how this decision led him to feel less angry and he wondered if limiting his intake of social media might also be a benefit to his mood and wellbeing.

This got me to thinking about how angry people seem these days.  I wondered how much of a role social media plays, if any.

The reason I ask is because I recently had a conversation at a coffee shop with the owners where we discussed the election and politics in general. And, although we disagreed on a few points, it was a pleasant conversation. I listened to what they had to say, and learned some things that I’d never considered before.

Driving home I wondered, if this conversation had taken place on Facebook or in the comments section of a website, how soon would it have devolved into name calling and blocking? Probably pretty quickly.

And it’s not just politics that get us riled up either. If you were to go onto virtually any website that allow comments, you’ll find people becoming obnoxious rather quickly regardless of the topic.
Which makes me wonder whether our true nature is one that is combative and nasty or if the relative safety and anonymity of the Internet creates an environment of intolerance to different viewpoints and opinions.

As a side note, I realize the irony of this post seeing as how Winston can be acerbic and rude on social media.

In my personal life, I’ve removed myself from Facebook because there are more posts now that look to illicit a response. I see posts about religion, politics, guns, more religion, anti Obama, etc. And I know that were I to engage any of these people, it would only be a matter of time before the gloves came off, and the block party started.

So I put it to the readers: Are we humans nothing more than anger bombs waiting to go off or has social media caused us to become more isolated and tribal?

Does social media play a role in our being less tolerant of other opinions and views?

  • I think we can be far more than anger bombs, in the right context. But the internet can be isolating even as it is opening all these windows on the world, and social media in particular allows us to pick our own windows, live in our own bubbles, and then we react badly when someone from a another bubble challenges our world view.

  • Let me an advice: turn off the TV. I did it years ago and was for my brain as stop smoking for my lungs…

    More time to read, to chat, to fuck…

    As the saying goes… “lo que se come, se cría”. Translated, it’s more or less “what you eat, what you breed”. Our thinking must be feeded properly, and TV it’s a alienating garbage collector.

    Greets from Spain!

  • LoveSW_Prequels

    Probably some of it loss of tone from live speech , people interpret “i disagree” as “u are wrong” more often

    • treos

      quite true, tone most certainly does not translate well through text alone. i’ve run across that problem myself sometimes when responding to comments across the internet. :/ DText helps (italics, bold text, and the like) but not all sites or comment systems use or allow such formatting.

      as for things such as emojis…why even bother? pretty much no one using a browser (firefox here) on a pc can see them unless it’s a bunch of unicode boxes. i’d just as soon direct someone to the “list of emoticons” page on wikipedia…an older version of the page.

      the current version of the page got edited by some fool who only left the Latin-only section of unicode so some such as ಠ_ಠ (look of disapproval) or ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) (lenny) are no longer included in the lists. >.> someone should go and reverse those changes as theres more than just latin when it comes to western emoticons.

  • Walt Garage

    It is possible to have a civil conversation on FB, but it takes patience and tolerance. I have found that if I just refuse to engage in the outrageous rhetoric, and let some of the other persons outrageous rhetoric pass without comment, that a lot of times the conversation goes well.
    Some people are just angry and abusive and there’s nothing you can do about it.
    Some people come on as angry and abusive because that’s what theyve encountered elsewhere and see a good offense as the best defense. Sometimes you can reach those people.
    I’ve found that a lot of people DON’T automatically go negative and only respond that way if I respond that way.
    Like in many areas, there is selective bias at work here – you see, read or get attacked by someone abusive and it makes you think it’s ALL abusive.

  • Dana W

    My life is MUCH better without Facebook, I’m staying away till the election is over. My partner has my password and its doled out to me in small amounts and if I start to get nuclear, she has orders to manually log me out. Ghods, I love her…….