Social media can suck the life out of you — if you let it.
It is possible to resist this life-sucking effect.
Twitter and other apps have made it possible for anyone to openly share their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and ideas with an enormous audience over the past decade. We’ve also had access to the inner thoughts and personal convictions of celebrities. We’ve seen politicians make grand announcements, and we’ve followed world figures like they are communicating directly to us.
What have we done?
In studying social media trends since the beginning and tracking sentiment on these platforms, it’s obvious we haven’t always reacted with empathy. A study showed that social media posts are becoming more negative over the past five years. These algorithms are being modified to encourage more negative or outrageous content.
I’ve used the term reverse empathy to describe the typical interactions I’ve seen, especially when it comes to Facebook comments and Twitter replies.
Here’s what I mean reverse empathy is to react in a way that not only doesn’t consider how someone might feel when there is a hateful comment or an attack, but is actually trying to do the opposite of empathy. It’s meant to criticize in such a way that the person feels more ridiculedAnd more insultedAs opposed to being encouraged or understood, it is important that you feel empowered.
Here’s a quick example.
Recently, I wrote about Greta Thunberg. She posted information about her new book called “The Book of Greta Thunberg”. The Climate Book. Thunberg’s 20-year-old self would be able to empathize with those who support her efforts, even though they may disagree. It’s quite an accomplishment to write a book, taking many months or even years to complete. It can take a lot of work to research and write a book. Writing one took me 18 months!
The reverse empathy technique sets off an alarm and causes the most damage possible. One Twitter commenter asked Thunberg: “Did you write the book in crayon?” While that might be cheeky, it’s an obvious example of reverse empathy. Thunberg might be hurt if she reads the comments. It is possible that she has read the comments from her Twitter stream. We try to keep the trolls away as much and as little as possible.
Since the app’s inception, reverse empathy has been the most common mode of operation. This is mainly because it allows for anonymity. Apps encourage reverse empathy since no one can know you personally. The trolls, on the other hand, are sometimes allowed to be aggressive and dismissive without real consequences.
It is possible to eliminate the appearance of anonymity.
Real people are behind these posts. Those who just want to ridicule and criticize should be held accountable at the very least. Although the original idea was to allow the best ideas to surface, the truth is that those who are most critical get the majority of attention.
If we could at all identify the criticizers, it would help. Perhaps that will help us to know a little more. Real empathy. Maybe.