Some of you will know that I have done a fair amount of research into the use (and abuse) of social media and I have always seen the use of it a powerful tool particularly in the realm of politics. Form the rise of fake news (note: the idea of fake news is fake in itself) to the explosion of online bullying. I fear we may be uncovering a problem that is much more deep seated than we would like to admit.
However, I have been really interested in social media as a reflection of the rise of polarization of left and right opinion, and the seeming rise of extremism.
The current theory is that we see extremism because people are wanting to see a reaction and the only way to see that on social media is to have strong opinions, rather than reasonable and balanced ones.
However, I am becoming to think that this may not be true. I have a new hypothesis.
I think (fear) that what we are seeing are peoples true opinions that have not been moderated by fair discussion and group challenge. I think what we are seeing is what people really think, and because it is not face to face and people do not have to deal with consequences of hurt feelings, then there is no drive to listen to other opinion, or moderate their own opinion.
This is all reinforced by example (Trump) and popularity (likes, retweets, responses).
I have no science to back this up (yet) and I hope I am wrong, but i fear we are developing the ability to shout without moderation, to hurt without consequence, to hate unconditionally!