Social Media One-Down-Manship

I remember my seminary professor, Dr. David Augsburger, making the point that wherever two people meet there becomes an immediate attempt for one-upmanship. We will seek to be the more impressive person, the one who seems more important and vital than the other person we’re meeting.

With our consumption of social media in recent years the trend has taken a different path. Now it seems that people are prone to strive for one-down-manship! It’s the temptation to say something even more belittling and critical than the previous person and post. For example, one person might post that he doesn’t like a certain person. The next person agrees and refers to the same individual as disgusting, and then the next person calls him a pig. Not to be outdone, the next post says he should be roasted over an open fire. Finally, the capper, someone says he’d like to take him out behind the woodshed and beat the crap out of him.

Each post seeks to take it to a more caustic depth, perhaps to impress the others with their volatility. It is perplexing to see how low someone is willing to go in their attempt to express their opinion. Recently, a parent lambasted a school employee for following proper procedures. The parent thought their child should be an exception to the agreed-upon protocol, and went to social media to express discontent. As a result, others joined in with the assault. Name-calling and insults kept the thread plummeting downward. There seemed to be no bottom for how abusive people could be.

Social media unbinds people’s negativity and duct-tapes their common sense and decency. Words that would not be said in person are suddenly released like pigeons to unleash their droppings. I wonder how the sender will feel about his venomous verbiage ten years down the road?

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