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The strange psychology of social media: what mask are you wearing?

Social media, and I am mostly referring to Facebook here, provides a rather unique insight into human behaviour given the fact that it is impersonal-players do not have to accept direct responsibility for their actions. They can hide behind a mask. They can say things that they would not say to someone in a normal social situation. We all know this of course but it only comes into stark reality when you are the subject of the negative opinion of others, their projections, their need to make themselves somehow feel better.

There are some wonderful people on social media such as Facebook. They post brilliant anecdotes, pictures, community achievements and innovative ideas. They congratulate each other and celebrate what each is doing. In many respects this reflects the general population, the light side of human personality, albeit in a manufactured environment

As Jung pointed out there is a light and a dark side to the human personality. We are all capable of doing great things and we are also vulnerable to behaving destructively towards others. The positive reaps intrinsic rewards and makes us feel good about ourselves and cements our sense of community, our sense of belonging.

The negative behaviour, the destructiveness occurs when we struggle try to find meaning in our failures for why things have not worked out as they should. We seek scapegoats, attack meaninglessly and randomly and project our inner selves onto others. There are also the psychopaths, the bullies, the damaged who seek to inflict their insecurities, their need for control and power on others. A different breed, difficult to understand by the average person just seeking to find their way in the world.

So, someone, with a hidden agenda of their own invention, can print a whole lot of half truths, lies, distortions about someone and vilify them in a Facebook post, for example. No constraints. Its an angry attack in the public domain as a projection of their own failure.. They'd not do this in a restaurant or on a train but its somehow OK on Facebook.-more distant, less personal for them, more likely to garner the support of other disaffected selves.

The really destructive part in this, however, is the way in which others then take up the cudgel and, without knowing any of the facts, not knowing the person, will then express their own rage in very personal ways, invent their own lies passed off as reason, in ignorance. But it gives them a chance to express their anger, displaced, that they cannot direct at its real origin-the job they hate, the life they hate, their failure, others that do not understand them.

The keyboard warrior thinks nothing of the hurt this does to the target. Instead of finding out what is really happening they just blindly join the fray with their own fictions.

Time to say goodbye to Facebook and probably other social media sites where this travesty is permitted.

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