The Psychology of Social media 1 : Why are some people aggressive on social media?

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It is not new to the hearing that the social media is a sort of beehive for all manner of individuals. Individuals, as we knnow, are baggage of different personalities.

In psychology, personality is defined as the configuration of distinctive characteristics, behavior, traits, attitudes etc of an individual which are considerably persistent, distinguishing the individual from another.

People are on social media for a variety of reasons. As the reasons differ, so do their awareness of such reasons. Some are on social media as a result of boredom, stress, depression, or other terrifying personal issues like sadness, self-esteem, tragedy etc.

That is not to say all are on social media because they have problems to deal with. We have people on social media purely for the “socialness” of it; for marketing, promotion, networking, exposure or for getting information of latest events. Social psychologists have identified the use of social media as a form of hobby and addiction.

Humans always drag pieces of their personalities and well being into any social environment. As such, we see the mad, insolent, bitter, smiling face, the carefree, the grandeur, just to name a handful.

One set of people I do want to draw attention to are the conflict personalities. Observable on social media are those who have hard time keeping an amicable relationship with others

This is very typical on social media platforms like Facebook, where people interact in a more personal context. Such individuals exhibit behaviours of unnecessary insolence, bitterness, anger and intolerance of opinion of others. They find it difficult to maintain a decent conversation or disagreement with others on social media. They often have no difficulty in the use of abusive and derogatory words.

What possibly could be the cause of this?

The reasons are many but top on the list is mental health. Yes, it takes a mentally unhealthy person to have a consistent relationship of conflicts. Fighting and quarreling consistently on social media is a clear sign that one is not socially and mentally healthy.

Poor mental health is a term people interprete as some kind of break down of brain functions. Not necessarily is the case. One can have good cognitive skills, verbal and articulatory processes but a very terrible social life. Neuroticism can be an instance.

Neuroticism is a disorder characterized by excessive anxiety. Neurotic individuals are normal people with normal lives. But what is not normal about them is their response to issues. It is difficult to be neurotic and maintain healthy relationships. This pervades into the social media. Neuroticism comes with the gift of temperamental imbalance, accompanied by undisciplined emotions such as carelessness of the tongue, rude remarks, fighting etc. In short, if you’re neurotic, you’ll be blocking people indiscriminately on social media.

Neurotic personalities on social media have a hard time communicating their opinions, disagreements on subjects with others amicably. Their aggression poisons everything.

Another reason some exhibit behaviours of conflict is due to personal stressors. This could be marital stress, job stress, family stress etc. These stressors may invariably evolve into frustration. People who are unhappy about their lives will unconsciously project their unhappiness and bitterness at others.

Research has shown that frustration can increase the probability of an aggressive response. This is very imminent when the frustration is unpleasant.

However, this is subject to individual differences. Some people have a disciplined ego which keeps their emotions from wandering bitterly against others. But others don’t.

Self-esteem is another factor. Individuals with low self esteem in real life often resort to social media as a form of compensation for their self esteem and other issues in real life. They may resort to the use of phantom names and photos as a form of anonymity, where they can confidently express themselves or hit on others without fear of retribution- something they are unable to do in real life. Thus, social media is a means for role play for such individuals. It is unsurprising to find that a lot of folks who display unnecessary insolence and tongue-lashing roles on social media are actually shy people who barely can confidently look people in the eyes to speak.

On the physiological point of view, aggressive behaviour whether physical or verbal can be influenced by certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. For example serotonin a neurotransmitter that plays a role in inhibiting impulsive aggression, when disrupted, aggressive behaviour becomes increasingly rampant. Research have shown that violent criminals have particularly low levels of serotonin. They same can be said of neurotic individuals. And so, when such individuals come on social media, their physiological disruption in these chemicals like serotonin, will naturally make them act impulsively aggressive at others when not necessary.

Sometimes when you see a person who is consistent at being unnecessarily bitter, confrontational, angry at others not only on social media but in real life, it may be they are passing through a lot which unconsciously project their nasty attitudes. In cases as this, they are to be understood and be patient with. The use of positive words and appealing to their conscious mind that they are not behaving well can be a good way to sort things out.

Recommending they see a psychologist is the best option. Resorting to negative responses do not solve the problem.

However, in cases where the individual is a pure sociopath- individuals who are sadistic, unconcerned about the emotions of others, the best is often to completely avoid them.

Imoh Son Of David is the author of the best selling book The Ultimate Curse on Mankind.

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