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social media

Blame the Internet

There are a lot of jerks out there empowered by the internet.

Why is that?

Affinity grouping vs. Geographical grouping

Whereas, in the past, your social network was largely defined by geography, in the internet age your social network is self-selected. This is a double edged sword.

Let’s say there is a guy on my block who likes to listen to Southern Rock, drink Southern Comfort, and dance on his front porch to Dolly Parton classics while yelling at passing cars, “Jap Crap!” And on the other end of the block is a woman who puts a leash on her 2 cats and 1 iguana and takes them for a walk around the block around dinner time. Every community has people like this. The iguana lady, the red neck, and a whole bunch of people in the polite middle who kind of roll their eyes at them.

It used to be that the people on the fringes really had a quiet voice in the crowd. They’d espouse their views and everyone would politely nod. When family came to visit from out-of-town we’d point out the lady walking her iguana and cats to stare. And that social pressure kept the extremes just a little bit more palatable and innocent.

Today, each of those oddities on my block can find other odd ducks on the internet. And chances are that finding other people like them will embolden them. So, instead of that person knowing they are on the fringe and kind of keeping it socially acceptable, now that they know 1-2 other people out there who like to rock out to Dolly Parton and yell at Toyota’s… they feel like they can be a little more loud and proud about it. The same goes for the cat and iguana lady. She found another woman in Florida who has 2 iguanas and 6 cats that she walks, so she figures she can, too!

In their minds, all of a sudden, lots of people walk iguanas so that makes it OK. And those Dolly for President shirts are selling like hotcakes somewhere, just not here.

That’s why there are more jerks out there. They found each other and started a Facebook group.

I blame the internet. Who do you blame?

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

3 replies on “Blame the Internet”

I am curious now if the guy in the yard behind us, has a facebook page. He is one of those guys who would walk an iguana, but he has a Dachshund instead. He is the loudest person I have ever heard. I may just walk by and get his address, find out his name and look further. I’ll let you know : )

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