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From Compassion To Aggression

Since that fateful evening fourteen years ago, Twitter had become the public square of the Internet. But in recent months, it resembles the colosseum of the old, where rabid mobs are howling and the gladiators fighting, have been replaced by troll armies and those who command them, fighting each other.

We should have seen this coming. If the early days of Twitter were about tweets (a sound associated with cute birds) and fail whales, the recent years have seen words like “tweetstorms” become part of the Twitter vernacular. We went from using the language of compassion to aggression in our association with Twitter.

If Facebook was a place where we shared stories of our events and experiences, Twitter was where we shared our quirks and occasional randomness. And then came links to articles and news, and then news itself. And it was only a step from news to opinion. And boy, with so much time on our hands and nowhere to go, we have opinions — on everything. And we all want to share those opinions with everyone on the planet.

Humans are now being programmed to crave constant attention. And the algorithms are programmed to intensify engagement —- and as a result, they only reinforce opinions that are on the extremes — for those extremes elicit responses, which feed the algorithms and they, in turn, amplify the extreme views.

Om Malik, It all started with a single tweet

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