Some say laughter is contagious. But when it comes to cyberspace, the most easily transmitted reaction is anger, according to a 2013 study.
That probably doesn’t surprise you. If you’ve plodded around on Facebook or Twitter or have skimmed the comments section of online news articles, you’ve probably noticed that outrage has become ubiquitous on the web. And lately, this seems to be the preferred emotion of armchair activists—people who rage about injustice from their supple leather La-Z-boys.
Injustice should make us outraged, but it matters how we react to it. Responding by wishing AIDS on a person or punctuating a tweet with hashtags like #burn and #die hardly advances the work of justice. This kind of approach only fuels our “outrage economy” and turns the internet into an online battlefield, escalating already volatile issues and dividing people even further.
It’s not that social media is the enemy of justice. Facebook and Twitter can be used to quickly spread awareness of human rights abuses, raise the profile of charitable organizations and bring about fresh perspectives on social issues. But the same tool that can be used for good can also be used for harm. Especially if we’re using social media for the purpose of flipping injustice the middle finger, our influence will be limited at best.
This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RELEVANT Magazine. Read the full article here>>