Doesn’t anybody like anyone anymore?
Are we really so busy that we can’t be bothered to rustle up some respect for each another?
Apparently not. Everyone is so critical, negative and angry. Our collective inability to find anything good about anyone is downright embarrassing.
And at the risk of blaming technology for our interpersonal problems, here’s my theory.
Computers make humans meaner. They give us permission to act from our lowest selves without consequence.
Think about the last time you read the comments section on a published work. Did it add to the conversation and bring out the best in the audience, or did it just enable mob behavior?
Probably the latter. And here’s why.
Turkel’s research on the negative impact of technology on relationships found that we allow ourselves behaviors online that we never would in person, and these behaviors have do consequences beyond the online realm. When people talk to one another virtually, there is an escalation of critical comments, and also an increase in the frequency with which people respond with negative messages.
It goes back to anonymity, which is the best and worst feature of the internet. Being anonymous loosens our fingers on the keyboard. Not having to take responsibility for our words and actually deal with someone’s immediate reaction can be disinhibiting, and it gets us spitting vitriol like chewing tobacco.
Makes sense. If the world doesn’t know who we are, then we can safely and cowardly make comments in a critical, snarky and nasty tone.
The problem is, it’s exhausting. We have convinced ourselves that becoming critical thinkers mean just finding fault in everything, and we wonder why stress is at an all time high.
Look, we are better than this. Moses, the famed controversial urban planner, was quoted in his obituary for saying:
Those who can, build; those who can’t, criticize.
Maybe that’s what people need. To go make things other than noise. To add something to the conversation other than the white sugar of criticism.
And most importantly, to actually sign their names at the bottom of their work and stand by their opinions.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Does your online identity get its definition from anything positive?