Why Are People Being So Aggressive On Social Media?

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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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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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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