Social Toxicity

The problem with social media isn’t anonymity. It’s that people don’t get all of the feedback they need from an interaction. All they get is the literal words or pictures, and lose body language, expressions, glances, and so forth. They lose all non-verbal communication. To get the same total response, the aggregate of verbal and non-verbal communication, they have to change their verbal communication to elicit such an intensity of response that they’re getting quantitative emotional content comparable to an in-person communication. This drives people toward highly polarized positions, extreme reactions, and toxicity.

I don’t have a good solution to this. When you read messages written with emoji, sound effects, wide varieties in text and font to express non-verbal cues, it comes across as being immature, embarrassing, or childish.

“Here’s the paper.”

“Thanks, Bob. ^_^”

See? Looks absurd.

But in real life, smiling at someone when they do you a favor is perfectly reasonable.

I think the cue comes across as absurd because it’s only reinforcing how much isn’t coming across, now much nonverbal communication is being lost. The attempt to communicate non-verbally through text reminds the reader of its own failure at the same.

But the fact that people try reinforces my belief that that non-verbal responses and connections are vital to communication.

I don’t have a solution to that.

I just don’t think anonymity is the problem.

Leave a Reply