Forgive me father, it has been a while since my last blog.
Now that I’m at my ripe, old age of 40, retired, living the dream (more on that later), I really wanted to see if I can help so many of you that are struggling with a social media fighting addiction and you don’t even know it. Namely, have you ever gotten into a random argument on Facebook and an hour or two later you can’t even figure out how you got there?
Technology that gets you addicted and keeps you in social media fights is written by the generation who never got it’s ass kicked for having a stupid opinion. Or got it’s ass kicked period. That coddled no-spank generation, who knew that any in-person confrontation would get recorded and tagged online for all eternity, learned how to keep it’s blood pressure down while keeping all the nastiness and pettiness online.
Now, what happens when that technology gets weaponized, gamified, and introduced to older people that do know which kinds of arguments will get your ass kicked? Interestingly enough, depression and even more irrational and emotional arguments.
There are too many studies, too much research to quote but I’ll help you double check this quickly: Compare Wall Street Journal articles to Fox News opinion pieces. Now compare them to Breitbart comments. All conservative sources, all discussing pretty much the same event (yes, it works for liberal content, too). Notice how much more combative, derisive, and offensive content gets the further away you get from actual fact reporting and into opinions?
But what you probably didn’t notice is how much more time you’ve spent reading that juicy Breitbart comment thread than the boring WSJ report. There is a reason for that.
HINT: We are naturally drawn more to the content that triggers an emotional response than a dry factual one that requires logic and reasoning.
I’ve personally made millions of dollars on that simple bit of Psychology 101. If you excite people, if you engage people, if you get an emotional response they are far more likely to remember you and engage you than if you appeal to them facts and logic alone. And it doesn’t matter if you’re rude and abrasive while making your argument either – they won’t remember that, they’ll just remember the thrill.
Welcome to the Thunderdome
Far too many of you simply don’t know when you’re being gamed.
HINT: It starts the moment you get on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any other threaded conversation / direct message system.
Sometimes the opinion is so wrong, so stupid, so wildly uninformed and out of touch with reality – that you just have to say something. Gotcha, sucker!
The second you make a comment your argument becomes weaponized – now you’re on the receiving end of a barrage of likes, reactions, counterarguments, mentions, insults, and worse – your friends are likely to see your comments as well even if it’s not a post on your wall. Now strangers, most of whom you’d probably never go with beyond even the basic situational pleasantries, are discussing something with you that is deeply associated with your own values. Your brain interprets their opinion as a personal insult of your core values and the way you see the world around you. And because they are associated with a friend (or friend of a friend) there is an additional weight to them. And because social media will keep on reminding you and using it to drag in other comments and opinions – that attack gets amplified. Your social media profile also gets skewed to keep on showing you the kind of content you like to engage on – so whatever it is you’re arguing about online with strangers, that is weighing on you, is now getting stacked because they want you to keep on feeding it content. It’s really that simple.
So what now?
For far too many people, your own insecurity keeps you from recognizing that you’re being manipulated. Sorry. That same insecurity, that you try to overcome by trying to convince strangers of something you believe, has an unfortunate consequence of making you miserable online. I’ve lost count of people in real life that are trying to unplug just to run back to their accounts like a crackhead.
Now, some of you didn’t have central European grandparents chasing you around the table with a wooden spoon to teach you to act right. But the answer is surprisingly the same. Stupid hurts. Until you can associate stupidity with pain, you will continue being an idiot that wastes time in online fight and you’ll just be more miserable for it.
Get you a rubber band:
Every time you even look at a Facebook post that isn’t making you money or has anything to do with your subject matter expertise, instead of commenting pull that band and let it give you the physical and emotional feedback that you crave so badly.
“But Vlad, they are wrong, I can’t let them be stup…” – If you’re thinking this, your rubber band isn’t thick enough and you didn’t pull it far enough. Add more reps until your skin changes color.
Hopefully this bit of common sense (millennial translation: “life hack”) helps. Just remember: Nobody gives a fuck about your opinion and it’s probably worthless. Someone is making money out of baiting you into it: There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that keep on doing stupid shit that causes ruber band pain and those that use the ruber band to keep their benjamins rolled up. The choice is yours.