As Warzel went on to add
, “the whole long weekend seems like more proof that - just as humans - we are probably not meant to be connected in this way, at this speed!”
I don’t completely share this defeatist attitude. Lightning fast communication, lightning fast opinions, and then everyone moves on to the next big argument – that’s what we have right now. It’s not healthy, but you don’t have to look far to see how people react when technology serves them badly.
Teens hang out and chat in Fortnite (ostensibly an action game, not a chat room) because it’s the best place to meet their needs, people form private groups on messaging apps because they don’t want to converse on public social networks anymore, people abandon email because they find it more of a hindrance than a help to their lives… We build around the problems technology presents us with.
And there can be technical solutions, too. WhatsApp’s new limit on sharing links (see above) is an example of a sensible precaution against the messy, viral outbreaks of outrage that have got people killed in places like India.
So, I believe we as a species can solve the problem of ‘outrage at the speed of the internet.’ We need to learn how to behave in this new world, how to spot bad actors, how to just let some polarising issues go – they’re often just not that important that we need to get angry about every single one.
Maybe we’ll just get tired of all the outrage and become immune to the way social media accelerates arguments.
Don’t ask me for a complete answer right now (if I had one I’d be shopping around for a book deal!) but I’m certain that we can figure out how purge the poisonous aspects of social media from our collective bloodstream. All is not lost, for we are resourceful and tenacious humans.
Now, if only I had the same faith could apply these qualities to the threats of climate change…