Over the past few months, my wife asked me “when will Facebook be fun again?”. I cannot take credit for her rational and condensed insight to my personal experience the past few months. There has been a big change, and this goes much deeper then new highlights and current politics. The social aspects that made Facebook fun, have recently turned dark, scary, and just plain mean.
In addition to sharing all of my family pictures and activities, social media has been an open and constructive place for dialogue. The structure of social media is designed for you to make “Friends”, “Like” content, and literally “Share” what you are reading. The algorithms of these softwares are calibrated to connect you to people that are sharing or reading similar items with the mission to increase your network. All of this results in raw and unfiltered reporting through a platform of sharing.
Social media provides the opportunity for us to connect on the basis of common shared ideas. Right-Left or Red-Blue, social media allows us to constructively come together with broad backgrounds to support for ideas.
Something has changed, and social media is no longer fun, and this free flow of ideas has slowly transformed into rage. Civility seems to have left the feeds and replaced with polarizing anger. The normal social cycle of discourse should be idea, challenge, and debate. We now just jump to personal attack. All the social norms seemed to have eroded away.
I was recently introduced to the work of Jonathan Haidt. Haidt is a social psychologist who is studying why good people are so divided. He has several Ted Talks and written several books on this subject that have helped me to get my head around this great divide. He discusses moral diversity.
We need to have what he describes as moral diversity. If our goals are to have a deeper understanding of the world, it will be harder if we all share the same values. As he describes in his talk; once we have the same moral values, we become a team. These teams lack diversity and shut down open minded thinking.
I encourage all of you to watch Haidt’s talk before you craft your next social media post.