12 Days of (Irrational?) Visions – Social Media will Create Racists (Before Curing It)

16 Dec

Over the course of the next 12 days I’ll be posting 12 future thinking concepts and applying the same methods I’ve been practicing with the various Ted Talks.  Why?  Cause it’s freakin fun and pointless, that’s why!

Day TWO – Social Media will Create Racists (Before Curing It)

Alright, yesterday was just pie in the sky thinking about a what if.  In tonight’s irrational examination, I’ll be highlighting something a bit more controversial.

Does Social Media, aka Facebook / Twitter / etc, create a new wave of racists?  (Yes, but its temporary)

Now clearly there hasn’t been a much ideology that has been placed upon this idea so it is going to be a bit harder to find a path of examples.  However, the question above does stem from some old fashioned sociology.

But wait, isn’t such a concept obvious?  Certainly that crazed loner, who lives in the woods, that hasn’t reached an appropriate level of normalization through social interaction, is going to search Google for his favorite related hated group and hit ‘subscribe’.

BAM!  Question solved, the answer is yes!  Right?

Well, actually, no.  Racism is the discrimination from a general majority, and the offshoots are actually part of the ‘ends’ of the bell curve.  So how is this affecting everyday people?

After all, a normal person’s views aren’t crafted by other groups, and the definition of a normal person is someone who is mentally stable.

Before I go off topic (like usual), maybe Racism should be defined.

Good ol’ Wikipedia (btw, I just donated to their drive as I reference it for everything, like a child).

(The below is just copy/pasted right out of the link)

Racism consists of both prejudice and discrimination based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. It often takes the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. It may also hold that members of different races should be treated differently.

In the above, a person can be very mentally stable, educated, employed, married or whatever, and these ‘technically’ have little impact on their social perceptions.  Racism, is NOT a mental disability, it is NOT a radical point of view, and I’ll even sound fucking crazy here, it is NOT a negative influence on a person’s being.

In other words, the ‘fear’ that is placed on admitting it EXISTS, is exaggerated.  People do not want to acknowledge its existence due to the secondary effects of such a culture.

And that is a very long list of crimes that exist historically due to racism.  The most notable are extreme examples clearly, but what I would like to concentrate upon are the little ‘nickles and dimes’ that constantly perpetuate under the surface which occur in ‘non racist’ societies.

What is that?

A real life example I’ve seen is from the hospitality I received while traveling abroad last year.

This is NOT a story about racism, it is a story of a subjective perspective.

I had found myself in the friendliest city in the world.

The clerks smiled, the hotel staff spoke with a tone that invoked a personable atmosphere.  Upon hearing that I needed to go downtown, they were quick to call a cab.  Not just any cab, but one that worked closely with the hotel and everything was being done a first name basis.

“Hey Blahblah, how are you doing?  I’ve got my friend Eugene here, and he needs to go downtown.  What time can you make it?  That’s great.”

And sure enough, Blahblah showed up, smiled and helped me carry a bag.  We talked a little about how great a day it was.  I think we actually, honestly, liked each other.

When I asked, how much was a trip to downtown?  Why, I’d be given a deal and that would be 20 bucks.

Heck, that’s not much.  I’ll do that, no problem.  The fair settled right at the start, the meter never even turned on.  It was a nice drive downtown.

Let me tell you something here, the cab driver either thought I was leaving the hotel permanently or that I wasn’t going to return.  However, I did go back to the hotel, several times.

Cab fair from the hotel to downtown and vice versa, costs less than 12 bucks.  (in a normal off the street cab)

Wait a second..  Everyone was so friendly!  The hotel referenced me by name!  They called me a friend even.  That wasn’t a deal, that was an overcharge?

And here is where subjective opinion may come in.  The taxi driver if asked, would say they made a simple mistake.  Sure they’ve been working with the hotel for years and drives downtown were probably the most common request, so the odds of a mistake were very low.    Nonetheless, an error when made in one’s benefit, can easily be overlooked or ignored.

So it was the tiniest of a ‘ok, they got me’ situations.  However, if this was to be template for every future transaction, I would be quickly out of money (and patience) in no time.

And that is a form racism may take today.  It can be with smiles, it can be with service but at the end of the day, the person in the back of the cab is a means.  A means to place one’s judgement call, so to speak.  It might be a displacement of fear, a misunderstood expectation or a moment where one would rather select to shut down communication instead of reach an understanding, the judgement call might be different each time.

The point I’m trying to make, is that there are ‘errors’ being made which you are willing to ignore.

Now how does social media extend this?

Social media, as a ‘nation of online individuals’ is still in its early development.  I’m not talking ‘Ahoy!  Land Ho!’ situations, that would be days before the internet situation.

Instead, social media is more like the early United States in the mid 1800s.

Ah, here’s an easier example.  Let’s use the movie, “Gangs of New York” as an example (takes place in 1846).

Old fashioned Racism, was at its peak when people lived in isolated branches of self identified groups.  When these groups interacted with members of other groups in a negative light, things escalated.

Today, individuals who ‘arrive’ immediately find their own friends.  Whereas previously, old friendships faded into obscurity, today they are instead forming groups of “historical identity”.

These are not loudly self identified groups like the ‘Dead Rabbits’, but they theoretically could be identified as ‘bunch of people who I hung out with before I got married’ and likewise entire friends lists could categorized into these various sections.

Now with the Dead Rabbits, they were all Irish Catholic immigrants.  It’s really easy to point out that the group had some common philosophies with that description.

Likewise, in the social media version, there is likely a common philosophy albeit unspoken or simply never identified.  In any case, the common philosophy is constantly echoed within the social group.  I’m speaking in modern terms so results may vary.  People aren’t shouting about philosophies anymore but there might be the same links that are constantly being shared again and again. (just echoing a philosophy, as an individual, one does not need to believe it)

So there is your friends list and then there are people you are willing to TROLL.

Trolls, the most aggressive of the social media monsters, might be too extreme an offshoot.  So I’ll just say they exist.

It would take a crazy situation for groups on social media to appear at odds with one another.  And oddly enough, that just happened.

Gamergate, a controversy that was in August 2014, became such a monster that it temporarily took over news feeds for a while.  (But so did gangnam style, so that doesn’t mean much)

It’s actually too big for me to include in tonight’s post, so here’s a link:

Wait a second, isn’t racism about skin color?

You betcha, but it isn’t about overt hatred (except, radicalism), it’s about the constant back and forth of a group’s needs and ignoring the errors happening to others.  In affect, the discrimination is the concept that you are willing to accept that other people can be treated differently.

Y’know what, as a test, take a look at the past 40 people you wrote personal messages to.  Classify them like a jerk would.  Race, age, cultural identity, etc.  These are groups that you MIGHT have insight into, on a relatively up to date schedule.

Now there are a probably many more groups that the list of messages DID NOT include.  And thus it is highly likely that we do not have insight (nor is it up to date).  And in effect, we must accept that we are ignorant of their needs (or echoed philosophies).

There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging ignorance.  Much like how Gangs of New York ended, murder!  Violence!  Leo!  No wait, I’m being distracted by movie action.

I mean, those social divisions eventually faded as social circles became more interspersed.

Likewise, more and more social groups (or friends lists) include a full demographic of cultural identities.  You can still post that racist comment, but one of your friends will call you out on it.

If they didn’t, you might want to think about adding more.

Normally there’d be more links to real examples and quite frankly there is an entire second half missing.  But it’s 3:30 in the morning and its time to stop being so irrational and get to bed.


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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


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