It's amazing how quickly social media broadcasting has become central to social violence. It is being used by all of the participants:
Attackers (video was removed): Larossi Abballa Facebook livestreamed his terrorist attack on the home of a police chief in France.
Victims: Diamond Reynolds Facebook livestreamed a policeman shooting her boyfriend while he was reaching for his wallet.
Bystanders. Michael Bautista livestreamed the Dallas police shooting.
Social Violence Networking
This use of social media has led to a new dynamic that bypasses the "redirecting - calming - slowing" influence of traditional media and the government. This new dynamic is raw, unfiltered, and fast. It also radically increases both the likelihood and the intensity of social violence.
Let's dive into some of the details:
- Violence as performance art. Selfies. Instagram videos. Twitter. We've been conditioned to record our experiences using social media. Naturally, we're are seeing the same thing with violence. Recording violence and showing it to the world, raw and unedited, can be used to "elevate the act" and memorialize it. NOTE: ISIS recently stumbled onto this as a way to motivate people to engage in terrorism. In these cases, the attackers used social media to turn their bloody attacks into both performance art and solemn ceremony. It gave it meaning. We'll see more of that in the future.
- We are bombarded with Instant outrage. We are more vulnerable to emotional manipulation than ever before. Our use of social media has changed us. We are constantly on the hunt for pics, news, stories, and videos that grab our attention and titillate us. Once we find them, we are then quick to share them with others. Few things provoke outrage faster than violence and injustice. It is proving particularly effective when the videos arrive raw and unedited from an individual rather than from the media. These personal broadcasts have an authenticity, a vulnerability, and an immediacy to them that greatly amplifies their emotional impact. This makes them more effective at triggering violence than any sterile broadcast from a traditional media outlet.
- Echo chambers. Our virtual networks on Facebook, Twitter, etc. surrounded us with people who think like we do. These networks can easily become echo chambers. Echo chambers that radically amplify outrageous social media videos, spreading the outrage like a contagion. More importantly, it appears that this amplification can trigger individuals on the fence to engage in violence.
This roiling dynamic for amplifying social violence is very, very dangerous. It has the potential to rip the lid off of this country faster than we can respond.