Discovery: 20 Minutes Into the Future

Social media is making you into an asshole

I recently came across a great Substack blog that spends time exploring something I spend a great deal of time thinking about: Internet outrage mobs. You’ll likely be familiar with the way social media engenders bad behavior, bullying, and what I can only describe as virtual witch hunts.

Facts do matter. They’ve always mattered. In an age of near ubiquitous connectivity, however, it is often hard to get to the facts because of all the outrage and the confusing white noise that outrage generates.

Enter the idea that social media is making you into an asshole (and me too). Despite appearances to the contrary, the human perception of reality is often very far from factual.

Outrage is not healthy. It poisons the source and the intended target. I get disgusted talking about the current president of the United States, but sometimes it is necessary:

2016 was the 6th time Trump explored running for president. He also considered it in 1987, 2000, 2004, and 2011. In 1999 he ran as a Reform Party candidate, testing his platform and evaluating the response, and eventually deciding he couldn’t win. After that failure Newsweek noted there simply wasn’t enough outrage in the country to propel an independent candidate to victory.

Outrage defined the 2016 campaign: the more outrageous his words, the more coverage he received. The more coverage he received, the more viable his candidacy became. The analytics firm Mediaquant estimated that between October 2015 and November 2016, Trump received $5.6 Billion dollars in “free” earned media from this strategy, three times his nearest rival.

Trump is the king of toxic outrage. He also has a very limited connection to reality. The 45th president of the United States lives in a fantasy world where his personal perception of reality is king, and where facts are ignored unless they match what he wants the truth to be. In Trump’s tiny tunnel vision universe, outrage mobs are the bullets, and Trump is the assault rifle.

Don’t contribute to the insanity. Go read about why you should limit or even sever your connections to social media. We can make the world better together by refusing to be social media assholes.

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