Two videos everyone should watch

As some of you might know, we’ve been talking about social networks and anger a lot on The Phileas Club.

My feeling is that they enable a kind of “anti-bubble”: a parallel of the well know “confirmation bias” bubbles, where you are also constantly exposed to “bad stuff” which you specifically hate. It is the ultimate evolution of 24h news networks (which deliver bad news all day), where you are exposed to stuff algorithmically tailored to make you sad or stressed (or, in computer speak, make you “engaged”: you are fed more of the stuff that makes you react. And guess what you’re most likely to react to: kittens… and Nazis).
It’s not that there are more bad things in the world than before, it’s just that you see the things that you hate the most all the time.

And not only that; social networks will also put you in contact with people who will answer you, personally, with comments that push your buttons. Again, not because there are more of those people than before, but because you have access to them and are systematically matched with them. And “them” might be 12 people in the whole world, but it doesn’t matter: they are always there, on every topic, and you butt heads with them every time. So to you, it might as well be everyone everywhere. It’s “people”. “People are terrible”. “People suck”. “I can’t believe people”. Except “people” might be 12 idiots that you have a direct line to and choose to argue with.

So here’s the worst part: we don’t know how to deal with this constant stream of anger and stress.
Our reactions have no measure or reason. We’res either off… or 200% MAXIMUM RAGE. There’s no other setting. There’s no topic that will just annoy us, or bother us, or upset us and that’s it. When we see something bad, we get angry. I’d argue we should learn to deal with that constant stream of anger directed at us, because it’s not going away. Anger is fine, and it’s useful. But we shouldn’t be making ourselves sick with it all the time. Save it for the things that matter. Maybe get really angry twice a year. Or every other month. But not every day or every week… It’s making us sick peeps. And it’s making anger meaningless, and it’s making conversations impossible, and it’s making living together more difficult. We need to learn to deal with this new world. And I’m sure we will; it just takes time, but it also takes awareness.

So here’s one idea: when confronted with something upsetting, let’s maybe take a step back, decide if this is a 3 out of 10 “bad thing” or an 8 out of 10. And if it’s the former, maybe walk away, don’t reply, or re-share, or boost that signal, because it’s just not worth it. And incidentally, everyone has already heard about it; what will that accomplish, other than give you an ulcer?

Anyway, there are a couple of videos which I think explain portions of the context for these issues really well. Both were sent to me in the context of heated conversations, and I think they are really important concepts to be aware of. Maybe they won’t change our attitude, and learning to deal with new environments take time. But I think they contain parts of the answer at least.




January 10th, 2018