Here’s a question for you: Is it safe to express your true feelings anymore or are we all becoming neutral on any given topic or issue, at least publicly, to avoid persecution from the herd via social media and the like, and if so how does this creep into your private life? Can it weaken your conviction on an issue because it’s something you don’t feel you can openly discuss, or does it strengthen your resolve because it seems more and more prudent to keep these thoughts and feelings out of the light and close to your heart?
It’s amazing how now-a-days, whole segments of, if not entire talk shows are dedicated to people’s tweets and Face Book post with a keen focus on dirty laundry. We have all seen stars or politicians and even private citizens make off-color comments or remarks deemed to be racist or otherwise politically incorrect and then watched them squirm in front of the camera or on social media trying to get back in the good graces of the social medial herd. That is if they want to save their careers!
We are social creatures, and increasingly social media creatures, who are influenced by an Echo Chamber Effect defined by Wikipedia as “A situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an enclosed system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed or otherwise underrepresented.”
A statement given in confidence or taken out of context or a bad joke can be redistributed by thousands of Twitter and Facebook users and then instantly be judged anonymously by millions of people. Some say this form of social Darwinism is fine and natural because it exposes and weeds out people with dissenting or unpopular views. The quintessential Orwellian scenario.
I think it’s perfectly fine for someone to express their views freely no matter how distasteful or even infuriating they may be to me. When the free opinions of the individual become trumped by the social machine and by the herd’s need for homogenized “Group Think” by any means, whether it be the Salem witch trials of 1692, McCarthyism of the early 1950s or the social media shaming events of today, we are all left with something that falls short of democracy.
For a very interesting case study on this topic, I strongly encourage you to check out this link: https://www.ted.com/talks/jon_ronson_what_happens_when_online_shaming_spirals_out_of_control?language=en#t-206258