A Billion Angry Brains I

A Billion Angry Brains I

July 09, 2013 By Janko Predovic

An interesting 15-part series about online viciousness has been started at Psychology Today. I am excited to learn about how this research informs the unfortunate phenomenon of online bullying, a growing problem in our society as Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media invade schools, and every other aspect of children’s lives. Back in the day, if you made a mistake it was forgotten… kids today make mistakes that end up on the internet, and as it tends to be today, once it’s uploaded, it’s uploaded forever. Will kids (and even some adults) ever be able to escape their mistakes? (And perhaps a secondary question might be whether online bullies will ever be able to leave their own mistakes behind as they mature.)

Anyway, the blog hasn’t discussed that problem yet but it is promising.

Here is a snippet:

“Drawing from the fields of Big Data, neuroscience, animal studies, game theory, and anthropology, the central discovery of our investigation is that online hostility can be accounted for by four distinct emotional systems hardwired in our brain, three of which we share with other animals—and one of which is found in humans alone.

They are contempt, spite, raiding, and outrage.

The testosterone-fueled contempt system (what biologists call intermale aggression) drives individuals to diss and duel online and produces trolls.

The oxytocin-modulated spite system drives individuals to target opponents’ social networks.

The male raiding system drives groups of raiders to team up to attack enemy installations and gives rise to hacker groups.

But the most prevalent and influential form of online hostility is outrage, a uniquely human emotional system in the most evolved part of our social brain that drives us to collectively punish transgressors and gives rise to crusaders. Social media turbo-charges our outrage circuits and generates ever-increasing numbers of online petitions and lynch mobs.

Why do ordinary people become so vicious online?”

Follow this interesting developing blog.

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