When starting out an article like this, I feel it’s very important to mention that everything mentioned henceforth is just an opinion of a student who is frustrated by the content he watches, the comments he reads and the stupidity of a billion herds he scrolls through on social media. This concludes the most effective disclaimer for this article in an age where they’re not really effective.
I thought of taking some help from statistics to support my argument, when I realized I don’t have an argument. I have a question in my mind and various scattered thoughts that do not seem to answer the question; which is, “Can we truly stay unaffected by Hate on social media?”
The short answer is, “I don’t think so”. I think by design every social media platform, and even content that’s on various social media platforms, exists to illicit a reaction from the audience no matter what that reaction is. Social Media platforms are driven by the number of likes, retweets and share. This isn’t new information; we’ve known this for a while, and yet we turn into digital zombies chasing the warmth of validation from strangers the moment we switch on our smartphones.
The thought of extending the above metaphor is very enticing, but I'm afraid that it’s been covered by more accomplished writers than me, so we’ll come back to the hate. Most conversations on social media today are driven by hate, and if that seems too strong a word, let’s go with anger, which personally is too subtle a word to describe the emotions and intent of the conversations that occur on social media.
You can post something as harmless as a photo of you with your friends, socially distanced, with masks - and even then, there can be a bunch of comments that’ll make a mountain out of a non-existent mole hill. Why?
I think the reason for that is, that as a society the world has slowly transformed into almost infinite micro-colonies rather than a finite number of macro-colonies. There’s a constant flow of new information and sub-groups and the sub-groups to those sub-groups and this isn’t inherently a problem. The problem is the human tendency to de-humanize someone who does not have the exact same set of beliefs as us. The left and liberals do it by considering others stupid, the right and the conservatives do it by not considering others at all.
This basic human tendency is dialed up to the max when social media gives everyone a platform. In essence, every social media platform is a tool to connect and have discussions with people around the world, and in practice every social media platform is a tool to determine how fast and how petty can a conversation become when you’re having discussions with people around the world - especially the ones you don’t agree with. When you do find people you agree with, you end up creating an echo chamber.
That’s when the hate grows even more. More hate means more disagreement in the comments section, which means more visibility to the pettiness on display, ultimately meaning that you’re bound to know about it. So, you truly cannot remain unaffected by hate on social media. Once you’re exposed to the hate, every decision you take is because you’re affected by it. That’s the difference between your normal vanilla hate you get in real life and the anonymous chocolate fudge hate you witness on social media.
The hate stays in your sub-conscious. I mean, I wrote an article because I was affected by the hate on social media. That’s why I think the conversation should be about dealing with hate and not about ways to ignore it. Because at the end of the day, it’s not a username you’re unfollowing, it’s a human.