The sinister case of mob mentality on social media eating away at society
By: Esther Chan
Being the flawed, complex creatures that we are, not much is needed for our thoughts to become a concoction of emotions, stirring around and bubbling in the exuberant mess that is our brains. Of all these emotions, anger seems to flaunt its ugly face quicker than any other. Adding to this equation the volatile nature of social media, it comes as no surprise how easily the online mob mentality seduces an individual. These “mobs” prowl the internet, scouring for slip-ups and misdemeanors, eager and salivating at the chance to devour with their latest tactics of hate and personal attacks. Social media has evolved into an echo chamber where individuals have found the power to form one, resoundingly loud voice—a development that is encouraging yet frightening.
There is no denying the benefit of social media’s ability to provide a community, especially to those who are initiating a movement. Two of the latest, most significant examples would be the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movement. However, there are always two sides to the same coin. Considering the constant influx of new horrors materializing in our newsfeed, it is hardly difficult to see why online “mobs” arise so rapidly. It begins with the intention of holding people accountable, but they evolve into a chaotic, mad rush of hate. In anticipation to “cancel” the latest celebrity, individuals eagerly jump onto the bandwagon of personal attacks, threats, and hate-filled suggestions—all the while never bothering to complete their own factual research.
Not to mention, social media mobs are all too quick to quell and ravage against the voices of those whose opinions deviate even the slightest from their own. Rather than rationally explaining the issue with someone’s mindset, mob mentality encourages individuals to immediately assert as much hate as possible. The sheer amount of energy spent on harassment is astounding. Beyond forcing out a public apology though, this erratic anger ultimately does little in terms of creating progressive change. This is not to say that an individual should not be held accountable nor is it to say that anger cannot often be justified. However, meaningless hate such as attacking someone’s appearance and family or suggesting they kill themselves—this is volatile anger that anyone who claims to uphold justice should be ashamed of.
With mob mentality on social media, it is frightening to realize that the concept of forgiveness has become all but obsolete. Admittedly, forgiveness cannot always be given, and sometimes, it should not be. . However, whether it should be granted, forgiveness should still, at the very least, be regarded as an option. I believe that forgiveness and the willingness to help someone grow and change from their mistakes is one of the only ways to truly improve society. If forgiveness was genuinely, sincerely considered, one would find that so much energy can be conserved by repressing the mob-like instincts to respond with maximum hate and anger.
Think of society like a garden. Every plant and flower is in a different development stage. Some are in full bloom, ready to be praised for their beauty and growth. But others have hardly begun. They are barely out of the ground or have not even germinated. These plants possess the potential to be just as beautiful given time, guidance, and patience. Yes, there will always be weeds that ought to be uprooted. However, if you were to step into a growing garden, perhaps you’d be surprised just how many “weeds” turn out to be flowers waiting to bloom.
Unpopular, idealistic, naive—call it what you want, but nothing can eradicate my belief in forgiveness. Though, I’d hardly consider it naive to say that there is enough hate in this world. It’s not worth it to let mob mentality seduce you into pressing “enter” on your next hate-filled tweet. Have patience, have love, have forgiveness. Let those damn flowers grow.