Why Does Anger Fuel Social Media?

Have you noticed that people love to be angry lately? What’s worse is the anger doesn’t seem to fit the alleged crime. For instance, I’m in a reading group on Facebook. We talk about books we love, want to read and recommend. Occasionally a personal question may come up but that’s been the extent of the group. Suddenly, the day before yesterday a woman announces something to the effect of, “Take me out of the group, I’m not putting up with this harassment.” I quickly scrolled through all of the comments. Harassment? In a reading group? We’re usually nerds and proud of it! What was going on? It turns out that someone posted a meme about the Bible being the best book out there. I believe the member pointed out that this is not a forum for religious beliefs and then all hell broke loose. Now as a Jewish person, I’m used to this. Did she mean the new Testament, the old Testament? Would it be okay of she meant the old Testament? Probably not. You know EXACTLY what you’re doing when you post a meme about the Bible. Note to self, do not criticize any aspect of a person’s right to post their favorite book, even if it’s the Bible. The member merely pointed out the inappropriate nature of the meme, separation of church and state and so on. Apparently this heretical behavior was not to be tolerated. How dare she criticize the holy book? In truth, she wasn’t taking aim at the book, merely the appropriateness of the post and meme.  I think they were kinder to Hester Prynne. The poor woman left the group in what I suspect were tears of frustration. People were outraged and unnecessarily angry about…an opinion…? What gives?

My husband joined a grilling group on Facebook and it was like World War III. I’m pretty sure someone asked a simple question or made a statement and he was called stupid and dragged for what seemed like an eternity. We all know you wouldn’t call someone out in person but the internet gives some of us beer muscles. The comments got so heated, they had to be turned off. The days of being polite are long gone. I had someone tell me I was clearly uneducated on a post in a women’s group. Way to support one another!

On Facebook people are so aggressive, and it just doesn’t make any sense. This election I’m sure things are bound to be heated. We all lost friends and family members after the last election. Memes about going back to your country aren’t supposed to bother people like me. Because it’s a meme I’m supposed to just scroll on by, which I admit I do at this point. It’s not worth the argument.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone over something as ridiculous as a meme. Insulting a person for his/her questions or values is a low blow. I would even put it in the category of bullying. I wonder what’s going on at home to make a person so angry, she’ll rip another person to shreds on social media. That’s one of the reasons I post primarily on Instagram, it’s less stressful and more fun. My advice, if you’re going to be enraged, or like to be? Stay off of Facebook.

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4 comments

  1. Everyone finds power in engaging on a social media fight as all they ever have to do is type and hide behind a keyboard. They never realize the power of their negative comments on someone until it happens with them. I try and stay away from all of this negativity and so far have succeeded. Good article, I wish the unnecessarily angry mob of social media would read this and take a leaf or two out of it.

  2. I think people are like that because they don’t see it as real life. I think people have difficulty empathising when they don’t see a person. There is of course a person on the other end of the other device but I must recognise the person in you that’s the same as me in order behave productively.
    I also think theres a lot of outgroup/ingroup dynamics. Social psychology tells us that people view members of their own group differently than other groups which I suppose sounds obvious. A good example might be the bible example in your post. The bible is offensive to one group but suppose that group posted about a Richard Dawkins book. The group that posted on both sides feel that they are justified in their beliefs and the other side is irrational, when they can’t see a real person, they don’t recognise a full human being and it turns nasty. For me I constantly see things online I find offensive, I just don’t engage because I know that engagement fuels the fire even if that’s not my intention. I also recognise that everyone has their reasons for their beliefs. If somebody is being cruel that is one thing, expressing your opinion about a book is another, there is no slippery slope.

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