Social Media’s Oppressive Anger

By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
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Social media users are becoming stale at creating new and interesting own-content
, thus allowing the networks to be hijacked by partisan politics, extremist religion, and to a lesser degree causes, anti-phobias and conspiracies. It is a hot pot of grumpiness.

Recent surveys suggested that “more than one-third of social media users are worn out by the amount of political content they encounter”. And, individually, you really are not contributing to the groundswell of content or discontent with fresh ideas. Same old, same old.

Both Facebook and Twitter are being populated with so much unoriginal content that they have become the premier platform for re-messaging (sharing/re-tweeting) partisan interests. The volume of conflicting ideas and philosophies in single medium has never been surpassed. Stop the internet, I just want to get off… enough, I just don’t care what you think, really!

Social media users are suffering information overload, and often this excess is of material they do not wish to deal with. The Pew Research Center suggests that “more than half (of users) describe their online interactions with those they disagree with politically as stressful and frustrating”. People with causes are using brutal force feed tactics to deliver their messages, often with horrific, gory images.

Content is stressful indeed. Those users let loose on social media who do create original content seem to pursue very blinkered views. They will not entertain contrary thoughts that may be different, unconventional, or even from a new perspective. Dogmatic content sometimes reflects, sometimes poorly, on the user’s general upbringing, philosophies and shaping.

To cap this, there is an awful lot of anger out there in social media. Clearly, this is an angry little world and so too is the content of social media. It is nasty. The tone of content is often disrespectful, condescending and, frankly, troubling. This anger is a reflection of the broader climate in our societies today. Who foments this anger and what is the end objective?

Add to this spurious, fake news. Social media users have a penchant for fake news distribution. They just cannot help themselves. Few take time to check and verify. Gullibility is at its peak. The more outrageous the better, and why not one might ask?

Governments and the mainstream media have been the masters of fake news for years. We used to call it propaganda. But today’s fake new is sensational, good reading for the bored masses and angry people. They are being fed, and we are all being manipulated.

Governments, in their infinite wisdom (takes tongue out of cheek), busy themselves with anti-hate laws in the hope that the problem will subside. It will not go away. Racism was never properly suppressed, its use moved simply from one hue to the other. It’s a cause that will not die. Nor will religious extremism.

Populations have aversions to those who are different and do not conform to custom. Social media provides a ready platform to offer discontent and multiplies the issues when legislated against. Germany’s proposal to fine social media companies for failing to remove illegal content “is a significant moment in democracy’s battle with digital giants”, according to some!

Social media moguls are extending the science of social media with artificial intelligence. Google has launched a new AI program called Perspective to detect “abusive” comments and hatred online. Facebook recently admitted “it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like”.

With both government and social media controls creeping in, users are actually seeing little relief. In fact the problem is getting worse, and the majority of users now try harder to avoid political and religious argument on social media.

Often, when avoidance fails, users take steps to filter or curate their feeds, frequently then eliminating the good material too! When the State takes a role in the media, the news is always biased, but boycott often leaves one without useful information.

The solution may lie very much in your choice of contacts and friends in social media. The average user is actually carrying too many contacts. Once it was vogue to have as many as you could muster, but alas, that is biting back.

Some interesting statistics suggest that two-thirds of your Facebook friends are generally known to you personally, while Twitter is almost the reverse. Yet of your contacts, only about a quarter have similar views to you, less than 6% opposing views about politics and the rest have mixed or neutral opinions. Selective pruning of your contacts may well be necessary.  But do you want to stick your head in the sand?

Unless you can achieve some peace of mind in social media, angry information overload will wear you down. One would think that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, yet social media, especially Facebook, membership continues to climb. Clearly humanity needs its little dose of anger, its gripes, whinges and whines. We are being overwhelmed, it may be time for some to pull the plug on this social monster.


African Lessons of Vanquish and Triumph

He moved forward slowly, the sweat dripping from his forehead, the sun baking down between sparse mopani canopies.  The warmth of his dusty environment challenges him every step through the thick brush, the dryness overwhelms, but he must progress, ever on the lookout for any guiding sign.  The wisp of a warm breeze brings the mild aroma of the African bush, the sweet spring fragrance of new tree blooms.  He is silent, hopeful of hearing a twig break underfoot or the crack of a branch broken by his browsing quarry.  Alas, the silence of the bush is broken only by the cry of a distant fish eagle, down towards the river’s edge, or the excited twitter of birds above, betraying his presence.  The signs are few.

The gentle monster is there, somewhere, but stealthy, silent and aware of his pursuer, although not fugitive.  He is not feeding in the heat of the noon hours.  The bull moves without a sound, his huge feet pliable and sensitive to the trail that he follows, occasionally stopping for idle moments in the shade of the larger trees.   His uplifted trunk scans the air with periscope movement for foreign smells, for his sight is not good in the mid-day glare.  The beast offers the occasional rumbling, a distance communication mostly inaudible to humans, and then moves on in the sweltering heat.

Suddenly they are upon each other, face to face, surprised and both cannily brave.  The bull elephant towers at almost three meters, just huge, the largest land mammal.  Weighing five tonnes or more with ears flared, tusks protruding and startled.  He trumpets his disapproval, stands tall, tossing his head.  Extreme dangers prevail upon the man.  Instinctively, the camera is levelled at the big fellow and film flows through its sprockets, while photographer seeks to capture that ‘perfect shot’, oblivious to the threat for those critical seconds.  Both of them stand down, back off a little, but not loosing eye contact.  The adrenaline begins to flow, heart rates accelerate, and the camera begins to shake mildly.  Discretion dictates that the photographer should be the looser here, but in his own special way he is a winner too.


Startled Elephant


Life is full of encounters which bring you to the threshold of victory or defeat and by standing forever tall against your opposition you will triumph, even as the vanquished – Andrew Field – October 2009