Social media is the perfect platform for hearty debate, just look at all the conversation you’re involved in at Starts at 60.
But from time to time the vigorous discussion can turn into abusive mud slinging, which gets you wondering ‘what is going on?’ You’ve all seen it. One person will pound the keyboard in a caps lock rant, while others are left scrambling to fill the thread with calming emoticons in an effort to stop the abuse.
In days gone by you might have saved the debate for dinner with friends or taken it to the pub to be energetically discussed with your mates, but today it’s all about sharing your feelings — with as few filters as possible — via social media.
Facebook with its 1.5 billion active monthly users worldwide is still the platform of choice for those wanting to stay in touch with people you know, but there has also been a surge in posters on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, among others.
Unfortunately though, shaming seems to have become a ‘core competency’ of internet use, and it has the potential to destroy lives and livelihoods.
Laura Hudson of Wired wrote some time ago, “The question of who’s responsible for the destruction — the person engaging in the behaviour or the person revealing it — depends on whom you ask.”
She says at best social media has given a voice to the disenfranchised, allowing them to bypass the gatekeepers of power and publicise injustices that might remain invisible. But social media also has the ability to heighten muckraking, bullying and cretinism on a scale previously unseen.
Twitter and Facebook seem to generate some of the worst in abusive commentary. Celebrities and politicians have often highlighted the toxicity of those environments where people feel they can behave in mean-spirited and confrontational, even threatening ways.
Surely community standards are being lowered when one partakes in such behaviour? Yet to call someone out on it has even worse consequences.
Sure, there are rules on the types of content posted on social media (Facebook takes exception to nudity and sexually explicit content) but it doesn’t filter everything.
A study released in 2014 found that nearly 40 per cent of adults experience bullying and negative behaviour online.
Society needs to think twice before unleashing.