I try never to engage in discussions about politics or religion, because they always seem to turn negative. Once, against my better judgment, I commented on a political statement from one of my friends. I was immediately “jumped” by people whose leanings were obviously the opposite of mine. But, they didn’t leave it there. They started name-calling (apparently I was birthed by a female dog), swearing and being unbelievably rude. Why?
If people are to have a discussion of any consequence, why can’t we dispense with disrespectful, rude behavior? State your case logically; don’t make it personal and emotional. Why can’t that happen? The only answers I can reason are that:
· Attacking another person helps to boost the attacker’s ego which suffers in self-worth.
· We behave differently in varied environments; i.e. in a meeting, with friends, in front of our parents. Face-to-face is absent in social media and provides a “shielded” environment.
· According to an article by Elizabeth Bernstein in The Wall Street Journal research from professors at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh found that browsing Facebook lowers our self-control. The effect is most pronounced with people whose Facebook networks were made up of close friends, the researchers say.
· The study goes on to say that most of us present an enhanced image of ourselves on Facebook. This positive image—and the encouragement we get, in the form of "likes"—boost our self-esteem. And when we have an inflated sense of self, we tend to exhibit poor self-control.
· "Think of it as a licensing effect: You feel good about yourself so you feel a sense of entitlement," says Keith Wilcox, assistant professor of marketing at Columbia Business School and co-author of the study. "And you want to protect that enhanced view, which might be why people are lashing out so strongly at others who don't share their opinions." These types of behavior—poor self-control, inflated sense of self—"are often displayed by people impaired by alcohol," he adds.
Sadly, this only contributes to a feeling of isolation and a need to withdraw in some who are attacked in social media. In others, it only encourages them to fight back. It’s the old flight or fight scenario.
While technology is a beautiful thing, those who use it need to realize that the image they are creating with rude, often destructive, behavior is one from which others want no association. Inevitably, it forces those of us who long for a more peaceful, loving world to just hit the “unfriend” button.
Yes, unconditional love does have its limits. No one should have to take cruel behavior, whether in-face or on-line.
Til Next Time,