Social Media Makes Us Ruder

Have you ever argued with a friend on Facebook? Blocked or deleted them after a virtual agreement? Well, it turns out that you’re not alone. It’s actually a thing!

It doesn’t surprise me at all that relationships – whether with friends, family, lovers – have been ruined thanks to social media. According to a recent article, 78% of people surveyed have reported increased rudeness online, and most have no qualms at all about forgetting their manners in the online sphere.

Yes, online media connects people, but it is also fosters people who are less thoughtful. Think about it; it’s much easier to express an unpopular opinion or mean comment over the internet than to a person’s face. That disconnect of not being in front of them means we often end up treating them with less dignity than they deserve.

shutterstock_124776391I think this is what happens: social media makes people a bit like objects, and therefore easier for us to disregard. Bear with me! For example, take the action of adding and deleting friends. Isn’t it almost object-like, how we can “gain” and “discard” friends with the click of a mouse?

There’s also the problem of gossip. Rumour and scandal is facilitated, because we have so much access to information about people we might hardly know. This makes it so much easier to be critical and judge them.

People on our social media accounts can also become a form of entertainment. They are like objects for my viewing and analysing as I please, instead of an actual person. I see this especially with the style blogs I like to look at. While most would never walk up to a girl in the street and tell her that her shoes are disgusting, on Instagram this is exactly they’ll say. And there are no apparent consequences.

You could be thinking – who cares? Why does it matter if at all? I’ll tell you why it’s scary. I did a class on genocide back in university, and every case we studied began with the victim group being constantly degraded to animal status, so that it didn’t feel so bad to kill them. Jews in World War II were often called rats, and in the Rwandan genocide the Tutsis were referred to as cockroaches. This rhetoric made their abuse acceptable, as it demoted them from human level. And to some degree, the fact that we interact with others like objects in social media, could be why we are getting ruder online.

Anyone who’s read my past posts must think I am completely anti social media. Well I’m not, believe it or not. But I do think that it’s developing and changing so fast that often ethical modes of behaviour don’t have time to catch up. As a result we should be constantly on the alert, and have a healthy criticism of the technology we use.

As for what to do to stop being impolite on social media – I think the first step would be to actually make an effort to see the important people in your life, so that your friendship doesn’t only exist in a virtual space. And perhaps we should try to spend less time on social media, so we can move away from entertaining ourselves with the lives of others.


This article originally published at MercatorNet.

Image credit:

Tamara Rajakariar


Tamara Rajakariar lives in Australia and is a Journalism graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney. She worked for Sky News in Sydney for a year before taking some time off to travel. She currently works as a writer in the fashion industry. She is also one of three young women running Workshop—all passionate about educating women on the meaning of their allure, with the message to be all-you-are.

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  • ft

    Good point to remember! There is a real person, many of whom we care deeply about, at the other end of that social media. It is way too easy to “like” (or not) or make short comments that hurt and create distance between people. It’s hard to converse in short bursts of text…

  • Joseph

    The same applies to comments on blogs that demean people with whom the commentator disagrees, sometimes other commentators, sometimes a third party. I often wonder about people who post rude and vile comments and what they’re like when they’re offline.

  • You’re so right about this Tamara. It even happens on professional sites like LinkedIn!

  • So true.

  • aspenglow

    In short, get off of social media.

  • Just take a look at all the barnacles atatching themselves to @Pontifex and their coprolalia-laden tweets. They are a new human subspecies: the 140-character theologians.

  • inspokane

    The white house mic was left on a couple of months ago. The media is sold out to the One World Order. So the white house uses them. Of course. Fact and no argument there. When mic left on they hi up commies calling us, the American People Muppets.!!! Telling isn’t it !!!!

  • Dataman

    While I don’t disagree with the articles overall issue with how many behave on these social media sites, I still see many positives to these sites as well. The first and most important is the sharing of information otherwise swept under the rug by the mainstream media (MM). If we relied on the MM solely, we would never have heard about the Dr. Gosnell trial nor be able to share with others the grotesque nature of his business as an example. In other words like everything else there is an appropriate way to use a tool like facebook and inappropriate, sometimes even hurtful, way to use the same tool. It’s the person behind the tool that matters.