Social media is gossip — global and anonymous gossip

November 23, 2019 by Joshua
in Blog

People fear social media. They see what it does to relationships and communities.

Next time you see people say something on social media self-righteous, mean, condemning, etc about someone you know or at least know of, ask if the people are gossiping — except instead of over the backyard fence in private, to the world in public, which responds in kind.

All cultures gossip, I hear. Evolutionary psychology tells us that it plays a role in regulating society. Using guilt, shame, and other emotions to keep people maintaining community standards.

Gossip

People study gossip. Apparently it plays a functional role in regulating moral behavior among other things. We probably evolved to enjoy gossiping for its effectiveness.

Gossip used to affect only people the gossipers knew. Social media, in offering the world to learn your views and anonymity to remove accountability, allows people to gossip worldwide.

People have in them the propensity to become self-righteous and holier-than-thou, to judge, to put on airs, and so on. These feelings and the behavior they lead to can feel good in the moment and probably help regulate communities, but made global and anonymous, they become often just mean.

This perspective changes how I look at social media. I recommend trying it. Someone tweeting about someone else is just gossiping about them.

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