Don’t be trapped by the “Internet birdcage”
Nowadays, few people can live without the Internet. According to the “Statistical Report on Internet Development in China” released by China Internet Network Center, as of December 2021, the number of Internet users in China has reached 1.032 billion, and the Internet penetration rate is as high as 73%. That is to say, except for some old people and young children who cannot use the Internet, almost everyone has more or less access to the Internet in their lives. The Internet has greatly expanded the richness of people’s acceptance of information, and the characteristics of the Internet platform have unprecedentedly enhanced people’s participation in information and events. On the Internet, everyone can post information, and everyone can also comment on information. This kind of interaction across time, space, money, and class has a strong appeal to everyone.
However, some people soon discovered that the interaction on the Internet seemed to be different from what they had imagined. Many people imagined that people were arousing words and scolding Fang Qiu on the Internet, but on the Internet in reality, “spraying” has become the norm in the comment area. . Phrases such as spraying, slamming, scolding, teasing, formation, and cross-talking may not be familiar to some people, but now they account for half of the comments on the Internet, especially on social media. “Internet exposure”, “keyboard man”, “troll” and so on have also become the norm in social media. Of course, this phenomenon is not unique to the Chinese Internet. This phenomenon exists in social media all over the world. In the Disney movie “Wreck-It Ralph 2”, the character said something like this: “Don’t read the comments, the Internet will expose Bringing out the worst in people.” So, what makes the Internet so hostile?
When many people discuss this issue, they always like to attribute the issue to the level of education. It is true that according to the 2019 statistical report of the Cyberspace Administration of my country, the proportion of netizens with a high school (technical secondary) education or below in my country has increased from 3% in 2000. increased to 56.1%, while the proportion of netizens with a bachelor’s degree or above dropped from 52% to 9.7%. The Internet is now closer to life and “vulgarization.” This is one of the reasons for the change in the trend of the Internet, but it is not all, because in North America, Europe, Japan, South Korea and other places where higher education is more developed, the overall hostility, violence, blindness, impulsiveness and other characteristics on the Internet also exist, and even Some are more serious than ours. For example, in Japan and South Korea, cyber violence has a longer history and is more intense. There are not a few people who have emotional breakdowns or even commit suicide under cyber violence, including many well-known entertainers. Therefore, education cannot simply be used to explain the spread of cyber violence today. The reason is that it is the result of people’s physiological factors, psychological factors and Internet characteristics.
The evolution and evolution of all genes will involuntarily follow one direction, that is how to survive. Of course, the same is true for human beings, so in the evolution of our brain, how to survive better has always been the most core and instinctive part of the brain mechanism. Human evolution has not stopped, which has created a problem. In modern society, with economic development and technological progress, our lives have become richer than ever before, and the environment we face is also unprecedentedly complex. As a result, our amygdala is too sensitive, and it is easy to produce a stress response, which makes us driven by emotions, prone to nervousness, anger, and impulsiveness, which leads to irrational thoughts or behaviors. Compared with the relatively mature amygdala that we are born with, the neocortex takes a certain amount of time to develop, especially the prefrontal cortex in the neocortex that is responsible for regulating emotions and attention, making plans and rational thinking. Generally, it is not fully developed until around 25 years old, and the development of the neocortex is not instinctive, but through experiencing events and gradually learning and progressing when facing problems. The more complex problems are faced and solved, the neocortex will be more developed.
This means that for many adolescents, the underdeveloped neocortex and the more sensitive amygdala ebb and flow, leading to them being more emotionally affected, more “hot blooded”, more impulsive, and more irritable. This characteristic is exacerbated by the higher levels of dopamine in the brain during the teenage years. Teenagers are the main force of cyber violence, unfortunately, they are also the main victims of cyber violence. Nowadays, more and more simplification and linearization of information have also led to people’s lack of experience in solving complex problems, especially the millennials who grew up and studied in the Internet environment will be affected by this environment, and this It may further slow down the development of the prefrontal cortex, making it increasingly difficult for people to control their emotions.
Instinctively driven by the brain’s emotions
From a psychological point of view, cyber violence is mainly affected by people’s cognitive factors and expression factors. Derek Bock, the former president of Harvard University, wrote a book called “Returning to the University: Reflections and Prospects on Undergraduate Education in American Universities”. The reform proposal also divides students’ thinking into three stages based on observations of Harvard students and psychological research. The first stage is “certainty of ignorance”, which is a stage of blind belief. In the study before university, students think that the knowledge they have learned is absolutely true, and this certainty comes from the limited knowledge they have learned. sex. The second stage is “intellectual chaos”, which is a stage of relativism. Students come into contact with all kinds of knowledge and even various opposing schools of thought after they go to college. Although students’ knowledge has increased, they often feel that either statement is reasonable, but they cannot distinguish which is more reasonable, so they will fall into a state of confusion. According to Bock’s observation, the thinking level of most undergraduate students stays at this stage, and only a few students’ thinking level can enter the third stage “critical thinking stage”, so that they can rationally analyze different statements , evidence collection, reasoning and other methods to make judgments.
Not only Harvard students, but most people in life are in the second stage, which leads to the confusion of the brain at the cognitive level, and in order to ensure “stability”, people will even use ways to distort reality, thus Create your own cognitive dissonance. Social psychologist Leon Festinger first proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance in his book “When the Prophecy Fails” in 1956. Through his observation of the members of the “UFO doomsday sect”, he found that in their leaders’ opinions about ” After the failure of the “end of the world” prophecy, the members did not abandon the sect’s theory because of the reality. Instead, in order to alleviate the failure of this expectation, they accepted their leader’s new prophecy, thinking that “the reason why aliens did not destroy the earth is because They spared the planet.”
Leon Festinger believes that when people face cognitive conflicts, some people will force themselves to accept new cognitions, but some people will adjust the existing cognitions in their hearts to minimize conflicts, and some people even I will believe more firmly in my previous cognition, and I would rather choose a cognition that has been proven to be wrong than believe in a new point of view, even if I “distort reality” for this. In addition, when people face complex environments, they often use classification methods to reduce the cost of information processing, which is what we often call “labeling”. As far as the instinct of the brain is concerned, once a simple and clear description is obtained, it will often stop there, and no longer bother to think deeply. When people face the Internet, an unprecedentedly large and complex information source, simply labeling becomes the “lowest cost” information processing method, and as more and more labels are used, people classify labels more and more. It is getting simpler and more accustomed to the judgment of binary opposition, which is what we often call the “diode” thinking of the Internet. One thing is either right or wrong, or it is either completely accepted or completely denied. However, most of the information cannot be solved by binary classification, which leads to extreme thinking in judging information.
Similarly, when classifying the complex information on the Internet, people will also adopt an “abstract” approach. Abstraction is originally to extract important and in-depth information during discussions, ignoring other superficial information, so as to facilitate focused discussions. But the “abstraction” on the Internet is all kinds of “pumping”. For example, in a car, someone can draw out many angles such as patriotism, social status, even personality traits, living habits, etc. This kind of random and even distorted “abstraction” coupled with the label “diode” provides a basis for “Internet scolding war”. Lots of footage. After cognition of information, expression becomes people’s needs.
In 1907, Professor James of Harvard University proposed the “birdcage effect”. If a person gets an empty birdcage, he will often buy a bird and put it in instead of throwing away the cage, even if the person did not raise a bird originally. plan of. In other words, this person was alienated by the cage and became a prisoner of the cage. And the Internet is just this “birdcage”. When people have a voice channel within reach to express their ideas, they will feel eager to participate, even if they didn’t originally want to participate in this topic. Compared with the real society, the Internet without the interference of physical factors is easier to meet people’s needs for respect and self-realization, making their desire to express and share rapidly increase and continue to exist. Instead of having to communicate face-to-face, this “sense of hiding” also increases people’s sense of security. This “sense of security” allows people to quickly generate and release their emotions, especially when they are relatively “depressed” in social interaction at the real level. The phenomenon of pouring emotions and satisfying desires on the Internet is more prominent.
I don’t know when, all kinds of rhetoric on the Internet give people the feeling of “a nameless karmic fire going up”. The titles of the articles are full of hostility, venting posts are everywhere, and personal attacks are everywhere in the post bar. I feel depressed.
As a “social animal” that lives in groups, human beings naturally hope to get more recognition when expressing, that is, the more “like” the safer. The famous psychologist Henry Tiffel did an experiment in which he divided a group of children randomly into several groups to play games, and found that even if the grouping was completely random and did not even involve competition, these children would also play games in the same group. People in the group were friendlier and more tolerant, while those in the other group were harsher. After a series of studies and experiments, Tever proposed the famous “circle effect”. He believed that people would naturally divide others into “similar” and “different”. The same kind, more repelling the heterogeneous. Combining the recognition of tags on the Internet and the need for expressive effects, the circle-like relationship of “holding together for warmth” has been brought to the extreme. But what is also interesting is that the “circle” composed of labels is not so reliable. It is possible that a person who was a “similar” in a circle just now becomes a “heretic” a few minutes later, which in turn intensifies people’s cognitive confusion.
In 1907, Professor James of Harvard University proposed the “Birdcage Effect”, and today, the Internet is exactly this “Birdcage”.
Original sin of traffic and data
In addition to people’s own reasons, the gradual development of the Internet has also exacerbated the spread of cyber violence. Since the development of the Internet, traffic has become the most important goal in the commercialization of the Internet. Obviously, whether it is a website or an APP, the more users, the higher the commercial value. The war for “users” of Internet companies has now entered the stage White-hot stage. In today’s era of self-media and social networks, although everyone can be regarded as a platform to speak out, the law of “flow” is still valid, and even the competition for “flow” between self-media and social networks is greater than that of traditional websites. And nothing less. In this kind of “traffic”-oriented business competition, in order to compete for users, various sensational “headline parties”, all kinds of extreme remarks that contradict the facts and even do not conform to common sense are gradually produced. After all, the more “unconventional” the more attractive people are. eyeballs. This atmosphere has led to an increasing number of extreme and opposing ideas.
And big data has greatly deepened the barriers and barriers among Internet users. In the early days of the Internet, MIT media and technology expert Nicholas Negroponte predicted the emergence of completely personalized information, in which each person could pick and choose his favorite topics and opinions. Today, this prophecy has become a reality. Big data allows everyone to focus on their favorite content, and the push mechanism of big data will continuously push the content he likes to the user in order to retain the user. Over time, this person is created by big data into an information cocoon, allowing him to only see similar content, listen to the same type of songs, form a circle with people who share the same ideas, and focus more and more on building his own ideal country. , and for things outside the Utopia, there is a repulsive mentality. People are only willing to believe what they believe, and scoff at other views, and even eliminate other “heterogeneous” to maintain their own orthodoxy. As a result, mutual attacks have become the daily routine of the Internet.
All in all, the hostility of the Internet is so heavy, mutual attacks are becoming more frequent, and cyber violence is intensifying. Phenomena such as these phenomena did not form overnight, nor are they caused by a single factor. The Internet has become inseparable from people’s lives, and all kinds of incredible information impact people’s worldview, so we should try our best to keep ourselves clean, not to be carried away by the Internet environment, and to deal with all kinds of emotional catharsis and noisy messages soberly .