As I’m sure many of you are aware, it’s insanely easy to bully others in this day and age. Long gone are the days where we just had to worry about the class bully or the one person at work who tried to get us to crack. Nope. Now it’s easy to be the target of the millions of those who use the internet, to become a viral laughingstock, and to be harshly drug down by those who wish to pull themselves up for a moment.
I won’t pretend I wasn’t surprised when popular technology website, Gizmodo, promoted an article in late January that gave you step-by-step instructions on how to go through your “enemies’” twitter and find their embarrassing tweets to rack up and use as blackmail. But then I remembered that Gizmodo is in partnership with the blog “Jezebel”, a blog that seems bent on bringing negativity onto the internet. It works, too, because they want the clicks in order to get any money they possibly can, and I clicked on the article in order to combat it (they won again — they got me).
Because of this, I refuse to link the tweet here, as it would just implore more of you to click. Because agree or disagree, it’s just in our human nature to let ourselves click anything we either agree with, are curious about, or loathe. I will, however, provide a screenshot just so you know I’m not fabricating this story.
THERE — NOW WITH THE PROOF OUT OF THE WAY …
In fairness, author Libby Watson, ‘unearthed’ some of her own bad tweets. However, it wasn’t as though she showed anything that was incredibly embarrassing, or could ruin someone’s career. That being said, the entire article was about how to use Twitter’s advanced search, and even gave ideas about what to search to make it easier to find something that could harm your supposed enemy.
Again, FemSTEM will not give those out. The words were anything that could pick up tweets potentially juvenile, or political viewpoints, or using words that may find when someone tweeted out an ‘alternative fact’. This could lead to minor embarrassment, or it could lead to the loss of a career. It has before several times.
RECOMMENDED WATCHING: TedTalk “How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life” by Jon Ronson.
We should be appalled at the idea of using technology to harm and bully others. To harm others in any way is incredibly petty and disgusting. The fact of the matter is, if these people are our ‘enemies’, why on Earth would we want to stoop down to their level?
WHY WE’RE PRONE TO ACT ON ANGER
Anger and revenge are incredibly rewarding to our minds. When we are angry, our brain chemistry works similarly to when we feel happy. “When experiencing anger, we have observed in our study an increase in right ear advantage, that indicates a greater activation of the left hemisphere, which supports the model of motivational direction,” said Medical News Today in 2010.
Anger may have its place, but when used improperly and in a revengeful state, the emotion can become addicting. Not to mention, our reward comes quickly. We may tweet something harsh or mean, bringing out a flaw about another individual, and we get an immediate chemical reward in the mind.
When we feel like we’ve caused some kind of social justice for bringing out something harsh another may have said, or we found some kind of personal reward in humiliating someone we just don’t like, our brain chemicals reward us. The brain releases dopamine, often times called the ‘feel good’ chemical, which makes us feel a kind of honor we feel the need to reproduce. And it’s easy to reproduce this. Just send out another mean tweet. Every re-tweet, or like, or positive comment our way helps release more dopamine. As a result, we can, and often do, become addicted to dopamine. This can cause us to become addicted to seeking an easy, online revenge because we feel pleasure when we do so.
This, of course, is not healthy. Becoming addicted to anything is unhealthy, but becoming addicted to something that will just harm others is even worse. Technology is an amazing thing, when it’s not abused. So let’s not use it to bully others just so we can feel a temporary reward.
RECOMMENDED WATCHING: “This Video Will Make You Angry” by CGPGrey on YouTube.