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Why People are Assholes on Social Media

Deep down we all still primates. Social primates, more specifically — that is, no single ape could survive without the tribe. If a chimp was an asshole, unless he was King Kong, it wasn’t going to end well.

This is why we are wired not to be disrespectful, much less antagonistic, to other humans in our day-to-day lives. Not only could this result in violence directed at us, it’s a behavior that disrupts the tribe, something that is anathema to us. After all, we don’t survive without the tribe.

But somewhere around 2006, social media as we now understand it, was born. Now we could confront other humans anonymously. Now the littlest chimp could hurl shit at the biggest chimp without fear of retribution. Indeed, this could be done gleefully, over and over, in public no less. Of course, this would cause other little chimps to join in on the fun, throwing shit at each other like pies in a Three Stooges short.

We’re just not wired to handle this level of responsibility in anonymous public communication. Particularly when, at the click of a button, we can send our toxic mischief out into the world. We become (not all of us, of course) little chimps out pretending to be big chimps. Without the danger of a real big chimp beating us into a pulp.

This, unfortunately, is who we are.

Welcome to the enlightened human race.