There’s that moment when you get that feeling of wanting to punch someone really hard when you are reading their social media post. It’s an urge to smack them so hard that their head spins into next week. Can you feel that surge of energy vibrating down your arms to your hands? What they wrote is so obviously ridiculous that it requires and demands an immediate response. You’re bristling and ready to pounce.
Why is that?
Sometimes people post things to get a rise out of their reader for pleasure, or to share their current feelings, or to manipulate their reader into either siding with them, or against them, and fuel an argument. This is about intentions – why is that person writing/posting that? What do they want from me?
I assume that infuriating things have been written for pretty much as long as we’ve been writing. The behavior is not new as provoking is a natural tendency that humans do all the time. Indeed, provocation is an important part of the maturing and learning processes we go through – how else do you determine limits if you don’t push them? That push provokes. How many times have you provoked a reaction in someone, who was ignoring or not paying enough attention to you, when you wanted their attention?
Combining the urge to provoke and the need for attention, with the dopamine high of the social media experience, gives you aggressive and demanding interactions. They play out in a digital ether littered with virtual salons of distrust, anger, and rage. The furious posting of links to back up or refute an argument fly back and forth. The anticipation generated by someone’s typing… makes your will focus and narrow on the instigator of your wrath. The driving need to slay them and bend them to your will fuels every keystroke. Every time you hit send is another blow against an enemy, whether unreal and imagined, or living and breathing. The dopamine buttons on your keyboard take you closer and closer to that mostly unrealized paradise of OWNING them.
In the earlier days of the internet, it was said that no one knows you’re a dog. Nowadays, it seems that social media turns everyone into a demagogue.