Friday, June 26, 2015

Bigotry and Social Media

It's good to follow people with a variety of opinions on social media. 


At the very least, it keeps you sheltered from the filter bubble effect of only communicating with people who already agree with you.

Pop Quiz

But what do you do if someone you follow on social media reveals a nasty bigoted streak?
Do you ....

  • put on your social justice superhero shield and educate them ?
  • unfriend or unfollow them (consequences be damned)? 
  • ignore the post, while secretly resolving to give them the cold shoulder?
  • shrug and move on?

                    flickr photo by Lunchbox Photography http://flickr.com/photos/jcorduroy/7016143189 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Newsworthy events can easily trigger strong emotions, and it is all too easy to "spill your guts" on social media without thinking.  Now take a look at the issue from the other side. If someone messaged or tweeted you that they found a post of yours offensive or hurtful, how would you react?

Accounts such as @yesyoureracist and @yesyouresexist on Twitter regularly re-tweet cringeworthy sentiments...but does this social shaming teach people a lesson, or merely open them up to ridicule (or both)? One could argue that these accounts unintentionally teach people to hide their prejudiced beliefs due to their lack of social acceptance. In all honesty, accounts like these appeal to the sense of schadenfreude in all of us. And although the targets of these accounts often use the phrase "Free speech!" when confronted, the concept of free speech (in America, at least) actually refers to the fact that the government is not allowed to censor citizen speech.  It says nothing about people not reacting to the expression of each other's ideas.

What do you think about this issue?

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