Why Are People Being So Aggressive On Social Media?
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Politics

Psychology Can Explain How 'Certainty' Is Making People Post Aggressively On Social Media

Your certainty is showing–and it isn't a good look.

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Psychology Can Explain How 'Certainty' Is Making People Post Aggressively On Social Media
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In the wake of a year marked by much turmoil, I'm sure we're all familiar with hearing or seeing "If you believe in/don't agree with 'x' then you can unfriend me/never speak to me again/unfollow me."

I'm always in awe when I see posts like this, regardless of if I agree with the culprit's perspective or not. And, yes, all people have their opinions and some from all beliefs fall fate to the "Never speak to me again if you don't agree with me" mantra.

Seeing someone I know explicitly say "Don't talk to me if you think [blank]," always strikes me in one of two ways. If I agree: Yikes, you're being a little aggressive, maybe tone it back a notch. If I disagree: We've been friends for three years...do you seriously want me to unfriend you just because I disagree with you?

Albeit there are certain beliefs some hold that TRULY do not agree with your personal moral compass. Sure, I'll openly say, "If you believe that killing puppies is okay, feel free to never speak to me again." In talking about the mantra, I'm focusing on sweeping generalizations, such as, "If you like anything about cats, you can unfriend me."

As a disclaimer, I have to clarify that this article is by no means me offering up my perspectives on any matter, as you will realize as you delve deeper into this article. That's not my point.

My point is that we all have our "certainties", and everyone is absolutely positive of their own certainties. Furthermore, your certainties aren't going to align with everyone's, but that doesn't make your opponent a bad person, and it does not mean you can't be friends.

Let me explain:

In a social psychology course I'm taking, we're reading Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. This book focuses around the premise that we all think we're right and we rarely realize/remember we're wrong. What happens when we do? We take it out on ourselves or other people or try to find a scapegoat for why we were wrong. In Schulz words, "Leaving behind our more thoughtful and generous selves, we become smug, patronizing or scornful...that's when we are fighting with people we love."

Passion is great. Be passionate! It's totally okay to have your opinions, but there's a reason for why people become so condescending, and often aggressive, when it comes to their personal beliefs, their certainties: it's psychology.

I'm focusing on those times when there is no evidence to prove that one point of view or the other is correct. These can be noted as beliefs, or opinions.

Everyone thinks their belief is right (and I'm not saying it's wrong, but I'm also not saying it's right). To go a step further, many are certain their belief is correct.

Schulz points out that what she coins "certainty" is toxic, or in the words of Bertrand Russell, "an intellectual vice."

Why do you ask? The answer lies in the fact that when any one person is certain, she throws all learned social grace aside, thus our opponents "cease to matter to us."

Hence "If you disagree with me, you can never speak to me again, thanks."

I get it, you're fired up and angry. More importantly, you're certain that what you feel is correct. And this certainty masks your ability to incorporate your "Representational Theory of the Mind." Representational Theory of the Mind is the ability people develop in childhood to recognize that there are different versions of reality, namely that people have different takes on reality than you personally hold.

You fail to recognize your opponents may have valid arguments as well, they are not simply ignorant, idiotic or evil, as Schulz elaborates. Furthermore, they may think the same things of you.

And here's the catch: Neither of you are right.

Next time you want to tell everyone who's ever disagreed with you to never speak to you again, remember: Your certainty is showing—and it isn't a good look.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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