The ever popular and growing social media, that seems just a harmless recreation, has a growing dark side to it reminiscent of science fiction.
James Lyman BSAE, BSEE, MSSM
The 1956 science fiction movie, ‘Forbidden Planet’ is a classic film of space travel and science fiction, indeed some claim it was the first real space science fiction movie, which pioneered excellent special effects combined with great cinema graphics and story line. Earth men travel to the distant planet Altair-4 finding Dr. Morbius and his daughter, living in a world once inhabited by a very advance people with a technology far beyond the earthlings. These people, the Krel, had gone extinct thousands of years ago, but their advance technology continued to sustain itself on its own. The Krel had developed an advance technology that let any and all of its people create anything they desired just by thinking of it. But the Krel hadn’t considered the secret dark side of an individual’s mind, which went on to create monsters that attacked and killed others. The Krel, with their new technology, unleashed the destruction of their people and civilization. Unable to control the hidden emotions of petty jealousy, envy, resentments and insecurities buried deep within us, those emotions manifest themselves into hunter-killers which attacked the other Krels until none were left.
We too have developed a technology which can do the same thing to us as with the Krel . . . well almost. It’s our social media! This relatively new technology also allows our deep hidden dark side to emerge into the open of the internet. To also attack, hurt, humiliate, degrade, vilify and destroy others, both friend and foe. Not having to face others, we feel free, with no restraints, to say whatever is on our mind without any consideration. When new to the social media such as Tweeter or Facebook, we are cautious and reflective of what we say, but as time goes on, we become relaxed and slowly lower our guard. We become impulsive, beginning to say (write) what is really on our minds without consideration of the consequences on our relationships with others. While we are careful not to say how we really feel when face to face with others, with social media we just ‘let it all hang out’. No forethought or consideration of how our writings will be received by others. We lose all our in-habitations, and so . . .
The Krel are among us . . . and they are US!
My neighbor related a recent experience with social media that inspired this article, a comment on a cousin’s page which caused a pointless dustup of emotions, which fortunately the two were able to back away from and stop damage to their relationship . . . this time. But how about the next time? Now in the habit of no ‘inhibitions’, of impulsive thoughts unleashed without any time taken for reflection, without the facial expressions and body language feedback to warn and guide our thought process as we speak, what can happen? And that’s when we hurt or insult others. That’s the Krel among us, the social media which easily brings our darker side out without us really realizing it, until its too late. The Krel’s ‘monsters of the id’ set loose to began the process of eating away and destroying our interpersonal relationships.
Social mitosis is the process of a people, a uniform social group, slowly pulling against each other trying to go in different directions, much as two cats leashed together inevitably pulling in opposite directions. External forces start to polarize the people, often causing subgroups to form, wanting to go in different directions. This tends to be a slow drifting apart process, which is often imperceptible to the people while it is happening, but they are still one people acting largely as one. There is still a high degree of identification and empathy between individuals. But as the people are pulling apart, they become more identifiable as subgroups. More and more, the subgroups pull in different directions, with more strain building between the subgroups, so incidents of friction between the two subgroups become more frequent, but at first isn’t usually severe. However, the friction incidents serve to continue dividing the people until the subgroups become very distinct, each with their own culture. Two new cultures and peoples develop, becoming more distinct and separate, identifying less with each other.
Left unattended, the two people continue to pull apart, continue to become more distinct and different. At some time, there is a rupture and those people become two separate and distinct cultures and societies, and that rupture is usually of a violent nature. ‘Revolution’. ‘Insurrection’. People fighting to be free and out from under the other, to do and think whatever they wish. Very romantic sounding, but the reality is usually very different and far from romantic. The social mitosis of America started when I was a boy in the sixties with the emergence of the counter culture (the hippies), and has continued ever since. While the split has wax and waned over the years, the problem of obsolete people in the last few decades and their displacement from the social-economic system has caused significant strain between people, the rife between them growing deeper as they evolve into separate societies. We see this growing riff every night watching the national news and the political infighting in Washington.
The Krel of our social media is now deepening the split in social mitosis, causing further strain and conflict and at an accelerated rate. Like the Krel in the movie, we are unleashing our inner darker side onto others, to attack and eat away at our relationships, unaware what is happening. The Krel social media is a hidden evil that we have no real control over. We can only rely on the self control of individuals . . . millions of individuals acting independently. The vast majority completely unaware of the Krel syndrom of social media, what they are unconsciously doing as they tap out another posting. The destructive power they hold literally in their hands . . . the power to drive people apart with unforseen consequences. To attack. All without any thinking. So we would do well to consider . . .
A Corollary of War:
Never attack without having a specific objective-
Never attack without a reasonable expectation of achieving that objective.
To ask the questions about a posting- Why are you attacking? What do you expect to gain for the cost of attacking? (cost-benefit) What exactly do you expect to achieve from you’re attack? And most important, do you really think you can gain what you’re expecting to get?
But then, if you don’t realize you’re attacking, it’s rather hard to ask and answer these questions, isn’t it!