The video clip I posted on YouTube about a month ago showing Jonathan Haidt discussing the catastrophic effects of social media has gained significant traction in YouTube’s home page and recommended video feed algorithms.
A bit of a paradox, I know — a video condemning the concept of going “viral” goes viral. Trying to bring awareness to echo chambers and mob mentality ends up only reaching those that already are aware of the damaging effects.
I suppose the one instance that mob mentality is justified is when everyone unanimously agrees that mob mentality must be avoided.
Have we reached the point where the only way to raise the discussion about the dangers of social media is to spread it on social media in order for everyone to get off social media? It makes sense to fight fire with fire. The psychological manipulation employed by Facebook and social media companies can be opposed with reverse-psychology.
Some comments in the video have anecdotally suggested that the young generation claim “Facebook is for old people”. If true, this is effective persuasion in western culture. Nothing says “uncool” and “social outcast” more efficiently among the teenage crowd than conformance.
The only issue is that the alternative platforms being used are still subject to the same psychological weaponry. Instagram and SnapChat are anecdotally the latest fad, but it is still a one-to-many, mob mentality enforcing platform. Furthermore, the former platform, Instagram, is in fact owned by Facebook. Sadly, the next generation isn’t going to fare much better in avoiding the pitfalls of social media.
Perhaps a better persuasive statement for the younger generation is that “social media is for old people”, not just Facebook. Being able to think for oneself should be fashionable, rather than mindlessly following the herd, identifying with groups, and isolating oneself in that group’s echo chamber.
Alternatively, if people simply started dropping social media in droves, the group-think psychological exploit can be used against itself — no one wants to be the one still using social media when no one else is using it.
In the next few articles we will address more of the comments from the video as there are plenty of good points that merit further discussion.
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For reference, the video clip can be seen here.
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