This week, I’ve been observing some of the most awful vitriol on FB on one site in particular – “Where we went and we didn’t like.” The more anger and vitriol which is spewed out, the more ‘excited’ members seem to become . Presently, the group comprises 68,466 at the time of writing this, with the number growing weekly.
I first became aware of this site when under fire by a few who were unhappy about the entrance fee of an event. It was then that I realised that I was unable to defend myself, or to make amends to any clients not satisfied and that it was just a place where people could sit behind the safety of their computers and spew hatred for their fellow human beings. While some of the comments may have validity, the destructive style of commenting is frightful and has put quite a few companies, quite unfairly, into disrepute.
In 2015, feminist writer Clementine Ford reported an employee for calling her a ‘slut’ on FB. He was subsequently fired and she was subjected to a surge of online abuse. Germany took a stand on anti-refugee hate speech that year, and the biggest names in technology vowed to clean up community hate speech within 24 hours of it appearing.
In an analysis done by a leading UK newspaper, over 70 million comments were scrutinised and highlighted positive online comments which provided instant feedback, pointing out errors and new leads. However, the abusive side showed 1.4 million comments blocked. The largest amount of anger and abuse was incited by articles around elections and focused on nationality (33%), religion (31%), race (18%), sexual orientation (9%), gender (6%) and political views (4%).
Social Media is inextricably linked in our lives, in both a personal and professional way. Studies have also linked our usage to personality type. Facebook serves the emotional and psychological needs of introverts. It gives them a place to socialise and chat without having to deal with the elements of face-to-face dialogue which makes them uncomfortable. For extroverts though, the facial cues and physical contact which they crave are missing.
While the vitriol will never be fully contained, I believe that we are in control of how we use it and need to think extensively before simply typing away behind the anonymity of our computers and smart phones. Imagine being on the receiving end of what you are writing – if it doesn’t look good, don’t press the Enter button. Hit DELETE instead.