BERLIN, GERMANY – AUGUST 20: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a press conference … [+]
LinkedIn is usually a pretty safe and peaceful place, full of whip-wise business professionals and people posting helpful videos about interacting with an audience. I’ve been an avid user from the start and I tend to browse the feeds on a daily basis.
Of all the social networks, I usually like to hang out and comment on posts or chat with people on LinkedIn because they generally seem pretty rational.
A recent post on TED conferences made me question this a little.
The contribution includes a TED lecture from 2018 with Greta Thunberg on climate change. This video has had over five million views and is counting so far. Though the Nobel Prize winner didn’t win last week (that award went to the World Food Program), she has been in the limelight since her famous “How Dare You!” Speak to the UN and be very active on Twitter.
In the lecture, Thunberg explains how she struggled with mental illness and mentions her ongoing school strike. (It’s only a month before the UN appearance.) “The climate crisis has already been resolved. We already have all the facts and solutions. We just have to wake up and change, ”she says in an interview.
In a hat tip about Thunberg and the Nobel Prize, TED posted a link to the video. There is a slogan about need for action, not about the hope of combating climate change.
Everything seems pretty simple. Another day, a new reminder of the evils of the world and what we can do to stop them. As you read through the comments, you wonder if humanity is in the stinker.
“Absolute idiots” is what you read. “Brainwashing” reads another.
Many of the posts call Thunberg because she has “handlers” and is too scripted. (That’s a bit strange considering that every TED talk has a high script.) Some go much further and criticize their age, gender, and more.
Some users tried to push back the comment section. One contained a quote from poet Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your mindset. Don’t complain. ”
Then someone else intervened: “This girl needs help.”
From then on it gets worse. (At the time of this writing, some of the toughest comments have disappeared. I’m not sure how to find this. I was wondering if LinkedIn is deleting comments itself or if they are TED conferences. I reached out to a conference media contact and will include an update here when you reply.)
We live in an interesting time. Trolls are taking over the mindshare on social media and posting far more often than the more sensible users. Reasonability is no longer the norm, although I support the right to comment.
One of my favorite quotes on the subject comes from filmmaker JJ Abrams, who said, “We live in a moment where everything immediately seems to be outraged by default, and there’s a MO of it, either exactly as I see it, or you are my enemy … but it’s a crazy thing that there should be such a norm that seems devoid of nuances and compassion. “
What he says is: Social media created a forum where we can share our hair across all the nuances of life, and we do that all day. We can post critical comments on a climate change activist … so we do. As I mentioned in this article about the film The Social Dilemma, the experts say that this tool that we use for public conversations is actually alive. It learns and adapts. It adapts. It evolves.
My quick addition to this claim is: The tool is also hungry and thrives on chaos and disorder, negative thoughts and troll-like behavior. One study found that false information spreads six times faster on Twitter than something that is true.
It’s easy to connect the dots that these fake news are mostly negative and we attract them. It takes more work to hold back a comment and click the pause button. Being negative is easy. Withhold comment about someone giving a talk on climate change that you don’t like takes effort.
I used to think LinkedIn was a bastion of intelligent discourse. After this LinkedIn post, I wondered if it would eventually fall into the usual mud and mud.