Anger & The Internet
A new study has found that anger is the most influential emotion in online interactions. These findings are from research by Beihang University and acquired by looking at “Weibo” a Chinese social network similar to Twitter but with twice as many users.
Researchers looked at over 70 million “tweets” if you will over a six month period. Rage was the emotion that was most likely to spread across from this social media site. It could spark angry “tweets” up to 3 degrees of separation from the original source.
What does this tell us about social media, and why is it so much easier to rage at a screen than at a person?
According to USA Today, although this is really a study of the Chinese social media mindset there are some compelling parallels with the mindset of the Western Twitter community.
In a past blog on Hate Reading, we noted similar findings among Western social media sites from Twitter to Facebook, “Some research suggests that downward emotional comparisons can improve people’s well-being.”
While it has been known that one person’s emotions can influence another’s feelings it is newly discovered and very interesting that the Internet has the ability to magnify negative emotions.
Studies from 2004 noted that people act out more intensely and frequently online than they would in-person for obvious reasons. USA Today goes onto note that new theories suggest that subconsciously talking on a computer can seem more like talking to ourselves.
It’s very difficult to link words on a screen with the reality that there’s a living breathing human being on the other end of the connection.