And Why Twitter Makes People Angry
“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else's path is wrong.” - Paulo Coelho
Yesterday Elon Musk said that Instagram makes people depressed but Twitter makes people angry, followed up with a question; “which is better?”. The perpetual and subliminal comparisons that users of Instagram unknowingly make every time they scroll are long understood to make people feel sad. Not something which is unique to the digital world; this is why I detest everything related to class, social standing, or any other rat race phenomena. Humans don’t progress (or succeed) in a linear fashion, but they compare themselves as though they do. Not only do these lenses (through which people view the world) promote self-inflected torture (think mental seppuku) but they also divide humans. To hell with those things. As Oscar Wilde would say; “be yourself, everyone else is taken”.
I am not a heavy user of Instagram but an ardent user of Twitter. I am also acutely aware of the subconscious influence that the bluebird platform has on me; sometimes having to remind myself that none of it is real or in “the now”. Further, still, I describe it as being nothing that is within one’s physical presence at that given moment, therefore not something to get worked up about. It’s a powerful broadcasting tool, and a great way to make friends, but it’s not for doomscrolling.
But it got me thinking about those times when you scroll through Twitter, and become angry or infuriated at the random “tweets” that come out of someone’s brain. Twitter is like a thousand opinions being hurled into your brain each day; some of those you will agree with (confirmation bias, the brain says “mmm that’s nice”), and some you won’t agree with (defensive, the brain says “who is this idiot?”). Humans have never been predisposed to this volume of daily chatter; we are still catching up. Imagine having a few hundred friends gather in a concert hall, and listening to them rehearse a symphony of spoken-word opinions every few seconds for __ hours a day (however long you tend to spend on Twitter). That’s a lot of stimulation for the brain.
So what appears like simple text on a screen can actually, on the subconscious level, feel like hundreds of conversation-starters that your brain has to process, parse, and then “respond” to (decide how it feels, a reaction). Instead of methodically digesting these opinions using what Daniel Kahneman would call the “System 2” side of our brain, we make snap judgements (System 1) because it’s easier. I find this to be more pronounced when it pertains to people we don’t know (either in real life, or someone we have not engaged with personally online). For instance, I find that whenever I tweet something that reaches outside of its intended audience (ie, friends and followers) it’s more likely I get rude replies from people who have never engaged with me before. They don’t see “Conor” they see “some idiot I don’t know, who said something I disagree with”.
With friends, we tend to be more tolerant. We take the time to use System 2 to consider what they are saying under the bias that “hey, I like this person, I won‘t resort to calling them stupid just because I disagree with what they said”. However, online, people are commonly guilty of letting System 1 take over. They have no inferences about the person they disagree with, so the brain looks for quick bites of information to cling to. Twitter is snarky, it’s quick-witted and exciting. There is a culture of “dunking”. You have to be able to take shit if you are freely giving it out to others. That’s all fine. But I find it hard to believe that many of its users would act in such a way if they were sat across from one other.
*local Florida man discovers what shitposting is
Yes, I know. The main reflection that I wanted to end on is that we are prone to quick judgements of others’ opinions online because we often don’t have the benefit of knowing them (the individual that is) well enough to exhibit tolerance. When making snap calls our brain is too lazy to exercise it. So next time you find yourself triggered by something someone tweeted that conflicts with your own ideals remember that. I also think this meme (a classic) is a good rule of thumb. The original message is different, of course, but it wears the same vibe.
Via Urban Dictionary
In Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, he shares a thesis of the dichotomy between two modes of thought. System 1, the fast, instinctive and emotional part of our brains, and System 2, the slower, logical, and more deliberate side. The two exist in tandem because we need to automate certain brain functions in an almost subconscious way. As an example, stereotypes (as negative as they may or may not be) exist because it makes it easier for our brains to make assumptions about the person we are interacting with. Counteracting that subconscious behaviour would require one to hold no prejudices or assumptions about each new person we meet. Put differently, it would require a deliberate decision not to stereotype them (System 2).
Great coverage, thank you!
Similar with TV, now all about doom & gloom ... even before Covid: 'trade war', Brexit the end of the kingdom and other nonsense for human kind ... chasing eye-balls, not providing true insight ...