The Dark Side of Social Media
Has social media become ground zero for hatred causing a viciousness epidemic? Recently I witnessed such depravity; I had to take a step back and wonder if there ought to be Geneva Convention Rules for social media.
Eighty one percent of young adults think online bullying is easier to get away with than bullying in person. Forty three percent said they have been bullied before. I wonder where have our young people learned this snarky behavior? Perhaps the source goes back to their parents.
Many of you may have followed the controversial development project in the works in Jupiter. People seemed to have a great deal to say about the project from both sides. If you ask me the online ranting, taunting and, in some cases, defaming people because they had a difference of opinion, went too far. As I followed along to see what both sides had to say, I noticed a spirit of shaming that can only be characterized as a mob-rule mentality. As soon as a post was made the same four or five people would try to shut the post down with personal attacks, antagonistic rants and badgering comments.
I was curious to see what was behind all this hatred and bitterness. I get the fact that people are very passionate about their beliefs and, when pushed, Americans have always been able to mobilize into action. When I went to see what all the fuss was, I found friendly smiling faces some with lovely portraits of children by their side with interests such as church, saving the animals and other assorted noble causes. There were several rapid fire rounds of emotional exchanges sent out across the social media sphere in a mob-like wave. I returned to some of the repeat offenders profile pages and found they had removed most of their personal information.
How brazen the exchanges became from these bullies cloaked in anonymity living out their lives in The Matrix of social media. One person seemed to attack every post within minutes and even went on to attack any person who disagreed with her position. In one exchange, the post writer tried to comment back and was met with this response, “This is America, I can shame and bully if I want to.” Really!
Not only do we seem to have an epidemic of hatred and bitterness on-line but we are clearly having a famine of kindness and love. The whole exchange was just ugly and left me wondering if social media has amplified the bully on the playground to the point where anonymous personal attacks have become the new weapons of mass destruction. I can only hope this is just a small sliver of reality and not what my America has really turned into. Have a Happy New Year and may we all spread a little more kindness!