Tag: Twitter (page 2 of 12)

Moral outrage and social media

I’ve largely quit Twitter these days, mainly because the social network I joined in 2007 turned into a rage machine sometime in the last 5-10 years. I suspect it had something to do with their IPO in 2013 and transformation to what I term “software with shareholders”.

This Yale study proves a link between increased outrage and the number of likes and retweets received. But then, we already knew that.

Moral outrage can be a strong force for societal good, motivating punishment for moral transgressions, promoting social cooperation, and spurring social change. It also has a dark side, contributing to the harassment of minority groups, the spread of disinformation, and political polarization, researchers said.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter argue that they merely provide a neutral platform for conversations that would otherwise happen elsewhere. But many have speculated that social media amplifies outrage. Hard evidence for this claim was missing, however, because measuring complex social expressions like moral outrage with precision poses a technical challenge, the researchers said.

To compile that evidence, Brady and Crockett assembled a team which built machine learning software capable of tracking moral outrage in Twitter posts. In observational studies of 12.7 million tweets from 7,331 Twitter users, they used the software to test whether users expressed more outrage over time, and if so, why.

The team found that the incentives of social media platforms like Twitter really do change how people post. Users who received more “likes” and “retweets” when they expressed outrage in a tweet were more likely to express outrage in later posts. To back up these findings, the researchers conducted controlled behavioral experiments to demonstrate that being rewarded for expressing outrage caused users to increase their expression of outrage over time.

Source: ‘Likes’ and ‘shares’ teach people to express more outrage online | YaleNews

On Twitter addiction

I used to be addicted to Twitter before it was cool to be addicted to Twitter. Back when all you got was 140 characters, and I’d find myself composing tweets about my IRL experiences and find that I was basically thinking in tweet-sized chunks.

I’ve since switched most of my attention to the Fediverse (join me?) but there’s something insidious about Twitter that pulls you back in. At least turning off the algorithmic timeline (something you have to keep doing) dials down the rage a little bit…
Circle of chairs with Twitter logos

I know I’m an addict because Twitter hacked itself so deep into my circuitry that it interrupted the very formation of my thoughts. Twenty years of journalism taught me to hit a word count almost without checking the numbers at the bottom of the screen. But now a corporation that operates against my best interests has me thinking in 280 characters. Every thought, every experience, seems to be reducible to this haiku, and my mind is instantly engaged by the challenge of concision. Once the line is formed, why not put it out there? Twitter is a red light, blinking, blinking, blinking, destroying my ability for private thought, sucking up all my talent and wit. Put it out there, post it, see how it does. What pours out is an ungodly sluice of high-minded opinions, sharp rebukes, jokes, transactional compliments, and mundane bulletins from my private life (to the extent that I have one anymore).

Source: A Twitter Addict Realizes She Needs Rehab | The Atlantic

Online personas and liquid modernity

blue black icon

Drew Austin references Zygmunt Bauman, an author I referenced in my thesis, in relation to personhood and social media. Really interesting.

Austin’s blog, which he seems to have abandoned in favour of a newsletter, discussed his friend recommending the creation of an an ‘alt’ persona “in order to break free of some of the restrictions that an online persona imposes.” I find this interesting in light of my thinking about nuking everything and starting again.

(PS what are we calling Substack newsletter displayed on the internet these days? I think I’ll just call them web pages.)

In his 2000 book Liquid Modernity, Bauman wrote: “Seen from a distance, (other people’s) existence seems to possess a coherence and a unity which they cannot have, in reality, but which seems evident to the spectator. This, of course, is an optical illusion. The distance (that is, the paucity of our knowledge) blurs the details and effaces everything that fits ill into the Gestalt. Illusion or not, we tend to see other people’s lives as works of art. And having seen them this way, we struggle to (make our lives) the same.”

[…]

As Bauman presciently realized, the constraints of these digital environments and the sheer volume of users endows even the flimsiest online presences with an illusion of unity. Showing up frequently enough in the feed might elevate one’s presence to a work of art, at least from everyone else’s distracted perspective, and this in turn motivates us all to present our own selves more artfully. The speed of the information flow is essential to the entire illusion: A platform like Twitter makes our asynchronous posts feel like real-time interaction by delivering them in such rapid succession, and that illusion begets another more powerful one, that we’re all actually present within the feed.

[…]

Something I frequently joke about—a dark truth that begs for humor—is how social media requires continuous posting just to remind everyone else you exist. I once said that if Twitter was real life our bodies would always be slowly shrinking, and tweeting more would be the only way to make ourselves bigger again. We can always opt out of this arrangement, of course, and live happily in meatspace, but that is precisely the point: Offline we exist by default; online we have to post our way into selfhood. Reality, as Philip K. Dick said, is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it, and while the digital and physical worlds may be converging as a hybridized domain of lived experience and outward perception, our own sustained presence as individuals is the quality that distinguishes the two.

Source: #162: Minimum Viable Self | Kneeling Bus