Saturday, November 19, 2016

Social Networks and Election Hysteria

I wanna know what you're thinking
There are some things you can't hide
I wanna know what you're feeling
Tell me what's on your mind
--Information Society

Some have theorized that the hysteria on display following the presidential election, particularly among anti Trump types, demonstrates that extensive social networking can prompt many people to create virtual realities that are difficult to shed if facts that challenge their personal worlds intervene. Such individuals cope with election-related cognitive dissonance by retreating further into the comfort of the world defined by their social network connections.

A competing but not altogether unrelated theory is that people with extensive social network connections are too tightly coupled to their environments. In the social networking context, tight coupling can make it more difficult to think for oneself because of constant exposure to the thoughts of others. Time and attention that can be allocated to personal matters offline is reduced. Highly networked individuals are more subject to influence and control by others.

Tightly coupled individuals respond to every little stimuli--even those that do not demand response--thereby making highly networked types prone to overreact to their environments.

Because of its capacity to 'overconnect' individuals to their environments, social networking can be viewed as potential source of instability--one that is potentially maladaptive in nature.

No comments: