Social media sours the soul

There’s no such thing as the season of goodwill when it comes to political debate on social media. It’s all about fury and outrage. Even when tweets are funny, you can taste the “anger inside the sugar coating of smug satire”. Rage is contagious – it spreads like an infection across online forums, which have a vested interest in stoking it. It’s part of what has been dubbed the “outrage economy”. Shrill, divisive opinions attract eyeballs and yield a “double payoff” for publishers and platforms, as posts are then shared by people who both agree and violently disagree with them. Sharers come to enjoy, even grow addicted to, this easy way of displaying righteous indignation.

And “so the cycle of provocation continues”, as people yield to the temptation to correct perceived wrongness with “a caustic retort” online and one side’s scratch becomes “the other side’s itch”. Any sense of empathy or curiosity is lost in the “riotous rhetoric of online dispute”. We can’t do without our devices, but now and then we desperately need to log off for a few days to regain a sense of perspective.
(Rafael Behr, The Guardian).

My comment: In the early days of Facebook I went onto it frequently, but quickly learned how negative most of the comment was, posted by people who want to put you down, with no idea of how to debate a topic. And now school children are anonymously shamed and denigrated. What started as a useful means of keeping in touch has become another form of battle, serving no one except the mean and inadequate. I never even glance at any of it, and Epicurus would probably have supported me. It must very seldom result in peace of mind.

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