Hurt and Outrage: The Depravity Of A Social Media World
Social Media's seduction is that it finds the worst in you, and like any good drug keeps you coming back for more. A media that allows the user's most primal feelings to be nurtured, and then unleashed, on a plethora of victims. These can't possibly be human beings you are socializing with. These are motives and opportunities. You aren't hurting anyone right? It's just a screen name. This isn't their internet, it's yours.
I woke Tuesday morning, after a night full of nightcaps, to see this personified in the living moment. A business (to remain nameless) had made the grave mistake of responding to a bad review in the worst way a business can do, honesty. A man (to remain nameless) had claimed a product was tasteless, and gave said product a very poor review. The company's Public Relations department responded by calling the man an "ignorant moron." The 'you know what' hit the fan shortly after in a moment that, with a little luck, would change both their lives forever.
I lit up a smoke, sipped my morning coffee, imbibed a provisional, and prepared myself for the profane escalation that was sure to follow in this internet standoff for the ages. Down the rabbit hole you say? Why yes, I'd love to see where it goes! Come follow.
I waded through a few comments posted to content-associated groups, and quickly witnessed someone make a call to action. The call is what we see with much increasing frequency on social media today. A person wanted to destroy a brand, a staff, and a livelihood, over a tit-for-tat exchange that one might find themselves in with a dive bar derelict on a Friday night. Now no one would ever publicly admit they want to destroy someone's livelihood over a mild insult in real life, but this isn't real life. This is the internet. The opportunity to bring pain, and strife, to others presents itself more seductive than a scantily clad woman inviting you back to her place after minimal small talk.
I found myself as I always do, feeling mixed emotions for what was to come. Excitement for the entertainment that was to undoubtedly follow, as trolls prepare to one-up the next in their attacks, and vitriol. I also felt empathy for the victim and their business as everyone has surely made a mistake before, and perhaps, said something they soon regretted.
The attacks on the company's facebook, and other social media related sites came in a way that would have made Napoleon Bonaparte proud. They were swift, harsh, and all enveloping. One upstanding gentleman hiding under a cloak of anonymity took a picture of himself giving the finger to the company's product. Another high class member of society suggested they would rather perform sexual acts with a crack addict, devoid of washing for months, over trying the company's product ever again. The company responded as expected. They tried to scrub their Facebook and social media sites of anything negative as fast as they could, hoping it would all just blow over. They failed to do so, in fact they had to delete several of their social media sites, and heavily moniter others as their ratings dropped from 4.5 out of 5 to less than 3 out of 5 in about 45 minutes.
This may seem overly harsh, and a little outrageous to you, but remember this is the internet. You are not dealing with human beings, just motives and opportunities. The more deprave you act the more hurt you cause, and isn't that the whole point, really?
What's sometimes worse than the attacks of the professional offender, is the professional victim. Those of us whom believe everything, and I do mean literally EVERYTHING is some form of directed aggression at us. Manner of speech, looks, political views, entertainment tastes, sexual preferences, food choices, casual greetings are all the source from which these "oppressed" individuals feast happily. In the world of professional victimhood, a good defense is better offense.
How does one cross the line in the sand and transform into professional victimhood? Taking serious, and grave offense, to anything and everything is the answer. There is no line in the sand. There are no mistakes. There are only perpetrators and fellow victims.
"Your hair offends me." "Your views on government offend me." "Your lack of sexual interest in me offends me." "I offend me!" Truly, professional victimhood is as rampant and common, as the professional offender.
Now, I am not in anyway accusing either the man who made the bad review, or the business that responded, in a less than cordial manner, of being professional victims. What I am saying is that when you look at both sides, and how this all started, you see a picture that is all too common on social media today.
Someone makes a comment that is known to probably rub someone else the wrong way, but they make the comment anyways. The other side takes offense to this comment and decides to respond themselves with their own insulting comment. The two sides have a brief scuffle, and then one side always ends up transgressing into a state of victimhood, and makes a "call to arms" of their online associates against the other party. Hurt, and embarrassment, is the goal here, not the consequence of over-playing one's victimhood.
There are two sides of every coin, and there are two stories to every social interaction. This doesn't dismiss the notion that there are some very bad people out there that only want to hurt, and embarass others for their own personal amusement. These are both the professional offender looking to start trouble on every online forum, site, or application they socialize on, and the professional victim looking to over-dramatize, and over-react, to every situation they find unpleasant.
What we have seen come to be on social media is the complete human condition on the internet. Love, cat photos, jealousy, and even hate are everywhere to be seen on social media. The good doesnt negate the bad, and the bad doesn't negate the good either. There is a balance that needs to be struck. A degree of thick-skin civility that needs to develop for healthy online interactions. Remember, you are not a human being to others, just a motive or opportunity. Don't be either for anyone. Don't engage those that cry victim to your preferences, or tastes. Don't engage those that would provocatively offend you with no cause, rhyme, or reason.
I often wonder to myself how much social media interaction can people take before they completely unplug themselves for a more real-world experience, but I know that day will never come. People need their voices to be heard, and social media has allowed that voice, and interaction, to get louder than it's ever been. When it comes to Social Media, you have to be a player.
Have you ever been in a social media fight that crossed the line?
© 2017 C R Wolf