Friday, 26 February 2016

Venturing sentiment in a quest for acceptance

Of late I find myself behaving more mildly. You can possibly see this tendency playing itself out online best, so where once I might have been caustic, aggressive and combative, now I am accommodating, mild and conciliatory. It might have something to do with the wine of course, which I usually start drinking in the late afternoon. I will normally drink for two or three hours before switching to water, most of the time after the evening meal. So this might have something to do with the new placatory me behind the keyboard. But as we all know, the addition of aocohol into an equation does not necessarily lead to conciliation. Quite the opposite can be true, in fact.

The change might also have something to do with the way social media operates. According to their book, which I reviewed back in September, Hal Crawford, Domagoj Filipovic, and Andrew Hunter found that one of the main ways people use social media is to create teams, to harness the power of consensus. So if I am taking a stand on Twitter by passing a rather pointed remark vis-a-vis something that a politician might have said about a particular issue, it is more than likely that I want people to come along with me in doing so, to form a consensus behind me that we can all share. That rather than I want to head butt my neighbour, who might have a completely different view.

I found this happened last night while I was watching the nightly 7.30 show on the ABC. I tweeted: "Problems with Fijiian fruit and veg pickers shows why we need unions. Can't trust employers. #abc730". It was what happened after I put out this message that reassured me. A few people responded and there were seven likes of this tweet and five retweets of it. One or two people answered with their own comments, and most of these were supportive. There was no dissenting view. I took this to be a sign that this foray into the realms of social media had been successful.

How I know that I am being a consensus-builder in cases like these can be measured by how I feel if someone actively disagrees with me. For example, a couple of days ago I put out a rather caustic tweet questioning someone's choice of a name. "Muff Badger?" I tweeted. He responded: "Is this you testing reading and comprehension?" Which caused me to reply: "Clearly." "Then you gave it a go and we are all proud of you trying your best. Participation ribbon for you sir!" he replied. "You are too generous ... or something," I answered, unable to generate anything like the necessary aggression needed to attack this rather humourous close to the exchange.

Gone are the days of alcohol-fueled aggression in cyberspace, at least as far as concerns me personally. You never do well, when you indulge such tendencies. In fact, you are likely to go overboard and lose a lot of followers. I have found that by being positive I am far more successful in attracting people to my feed. But it is more than that. I find that I ask the internet to indulge my sensibilities so that it can give me the things that I need, that I want. What I want is to feel valued and included, and there's nothing more likely to ensure this doesn't occur than to get aggressive all the time. You don't want to come across like a mawkish sop, of course, but there are grades of sentiment that can be ventured in the quest for acceptance.

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