Many, if not most discussions of politics on the internet are poisoned by virtue signaling. When they are not poisoned by virtue signaling, discussions are often just ways to vent emotions. We believe the reason for this is the platforms themselves and the incentives to engage online.

On the internet we can adjust our level of anonymity. An adjustable level of anonymity allows us to change how we speak to others while simultaneously mitigating or removing any consequences to ourselves. This, of course, varies based on the platform and what we’re attempting to accomplish, but in the context of speaking with others on the internet, we can be relatively consequence free to say whatever we want on most major platforms. Particularly negative or hateful behavior might cause us to be banned off of a platform, but through the use of technology or other means, we can simply create another account (or migrate to another platform) and continue the same speech. In malicious terms, we do not have to worry about managing someone else’s emotions or our connection to them.

In real life, on the other hand, it is not as easy to pass off as someone else. we have to be much more aware of how we speak to others because consequences can be much more dire. When discussing politics with others, we may alienate them or ourselves and so we may choose to be more open to listening rather than soapboxing. The people we are interacting with may be a regular part of our lives and may be people we have come to respect. Understanding how they think might be vitally important to maintaining or improving our connection.

We are presenting the internet and real life as two ends of a spectrum but it is more complicated than that. There are people who are very visible and tied to their identities on the internet just as there are people in real life who use false identities created to mask their true identity. Interactions vary in level of connection, platform, and who happens to know who we are in other spaces on the internet. There are plenty of people who talk on the internet about politics with the explicit goal of changing the minds of others. Some of these individuals are not using this as an outlet to manage their own emotions. These generalizations are presented in this way because we need to talk about these patterns in the context of the platform Lemmy. We are asking everyone on this platform to be wary of anyone who focuses on politics but is unable to explain the issues themselves. They are probably trying to deceive you, are virtue signaling, or projecting their own insecurities and you should be skeptical of their approach.

We would encourage all of you to think about incentives when presented with political drama online. It is easy to get engaged because politics has a direct and often scary effect on our lives.

In this community, it is not difficult to find individuals who are regularly marginalized by politicians. Especially for these minorities, it is completely valid to get emotionally invested in politics and we would encourage doing so on some level, but we need to think carefully about the other parties present in a conversation and whether they are willing to listen or incentivized to do so. For the people who are hiding behind anonymity and posting to vent their emotional frustrations with the system they are likely not invested in the community we are growing here and it may be appropriate and healthy to ignore or disengage with these folks.

Last updated 10 Sep 2023, 13:37 -0400 . history