Trial by Twitter

In this weeks podcast Ed and I were reviewing the recent spate of media induced conflicts from Colleen Nolan’s spat with Kim on Loose Women, through the strange behaviours of Roxanne Pallet on Big Brother, to Kirsty Allsopp revelation of having smashed her son’s iPads because they failed to comply with the rules on screen time.

Each of these events led to a media frenzy as viewers took to the internet slagging people off and shouting the odds, often in a cruel and offensive manner that is destructive and un-empathic. 

We are suffering from a loss of media empathy. Perhaps some people never had it. It is certainly true that the lack of eye and body contact in media communication results in a lack of sensitivity. We know that in any communication the bulk of the meaning that is shared is in the body language, movement stance and facial expressions. The words that we use account for only 7% of the meaning in what we are sharing. This allows for a 93% miscommunication every time we share online, text or email. Just think how often we get the wrong end of the stick or someone becomes offended by what we have shared in a way that we never intended.

There is an added layer in this loss of media empathy that makes the situation worse. When we use media to communicate we cannot see or feel the effect of what we are sharing because we cannot see the body language, movement stance and facial expressions of the person receiving it. We are having a 7% conversation and maybe a 93% miscommunication as we are unaware of the effect that we are having.

It is so easy to become the critical, hurtful tweeter and say the most outrageous things about another person because we do not have to face the consequences of our communication. People can say things online that they would never say to someone’s face. In this sense people who use social media to have a go at someone are usually cowards and worse than that they are unaccountable cowards.

One of the worst effects of this behaviour is bullying, that predominates with younger people but does also effect older adults as well. We have seen cases where people have been driven to suicide by negative trolling on social media.

The question Ed asked was ‘how can we change this?’  The problem is that we cannot. We cannot un-invent the internet and because we have a natural negative bias we continue to be drawn to the worst of things. Just consider how many scary movies are out there and how popular they are or our obsession with bad news.

The answer is Mindfulness and Education. 

When people develop mindfulness they are developing their own self awareness and their awareness of the effect that they have on other people and the world around them. If we take mindfulness into schools at an early age we might be able to create a more mindful society and recreate and develop higher levels of empathy and care.

The other answer is to use these platforms less if at all and when we do come across negative media gossip do not feed it, let it go.

Be happy, take care and don’t be a troll

Sean x

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