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)

Which is why this blog, while pointing up disagreeable and worrying trends, tries to argue quietly and and interperse the serious stuff with the occasional poem or tongue-in-cheek observation, even a joke. Successful approach? I have no idea! All that can be said is that either the crass and vulgar haven’t found this blog, or that the tone and the philosophy of consideration and kindness can be ignored by the extremists and anonymous haters ….so far. They are probably indifferent to Epicureanism and attempted reason in any case. But suggestions about the approach are welcome.


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