Is social media dehumanizing us?

#1

I don’t feel a dehumanizing effect in this community – quite the opposite. This community is positive, supportive, and overall a wonderful place to be.

However, on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. it seems like the loudest voices get the most attention, already-marginalized people are put down and treated like garbage, and people say horrible things they would never say in real life (or maybe they would).

Is social media dehumanizing us? Is it bringing out the best, or the worst, in humanity? What can we do to improve social media?

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#2

I usually go to work by metro. Most of the people just zoom in their smartphone screen and don’t recognise nothing more. If they would buy vr accessory, they would probably have been isolated.

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#3

I think it is a tool and it can be as positive as toxic. Great platforms host communities and open doors. It is mainly used to connect people so if it serves this purpose I don’t think it is dehumanizing us. Used properly it is very good to be able to connect with everyone, to practice argumentation skills, to express our opinions on different topics. Once feelings of jealousy, hatred start to arise from some platform, I think we need to take a step back.
Personally, I dont think it has ever had any bad impact. Looking forward to know the others’ opinions.

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#4

Great question, @austin.

@David & I had a one-hour long conversation the other day on this topic that we recorded, which we might or might not release in the future.

My answer is no. Social Media amplifies the worst of humanity but also elevates the best of it. It is a true, albeit slightly distorted, reflection of us as a species. We are only as good as the internet we create.

There is a disconnect between what people would do behind the keyboard vs. what they would do “in real life” for sure. But I’m not sure which one is closer to “the truth”. For example, if you only comment the most racist things online to certain groups of people under a pseudo name, yet in real life you would never utter such thing, to me you are still a racist. The internet does not dehumanize you, it reveals aspects of who you are that’s otherwise unknown.

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#5

I wouldn’t say it’s dehumanizing us. I’d say this same behavior has been around since the onus of it all, in newsgroups and mIRC chatrooms. It’s the GIFT archetype playing out to the letter.

I would say that the way we improve social media is by actually making an effort, like Reddit is trying to do [and…sort of failing, honestly] to crack down on the hatefulness.

Inevitably, however, they’ll just flock elsewhere…tying some actual consequence seems to help, but it’s just endemic of how much hatred and pain people have within themselves.

Maybe the only real way to make social media better is to help society, at large, change for the better.

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#6

I think quite a few recent terrorist acts, like the Christchurch massacre, were inspired by groups the attacker found online. Even if they didn’t tell him explicitly to do what he did, they galvanized him. They reinforced his beliefs. They made him feel justified.

That’s fucking terrifying.

I’m glad y’all mentioned this, because I was thinking it as soon as I posted the thread: social media is really just a (distorted) reflection of human nature.

That’s downright profound @linh…you should tweet that!

I’d have to agree here. Ultimately, we have to change as humans before we can expect our creations to follow suit.

I’d like to end this post by quoting Bobby Kennedy (I’d highly recommend reading the whole speech):

Some looks for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

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