I'm creating this thread in response to this article posted by the New York Times:The Trump Voters Whose ‘Need for Chaos’ Obliterates Everything ElseDISCLAIMER:
THIS IS NOT A TRUMP THREAD
The column in question is a commentary on a paper by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and Temple that argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to “chaos incitement” and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.
In other words, the world is the way it is because there are literally people out there who just want to watch the world burn, and the digital age has provided them with the tools to begin doing so.
To quote the article
How do Petersen, Osmundsen and Arceneaux measure this “need for chaos"? They conducted six surveys, four in the United States, in which they interviewed 5157 participants, and two in Denmark, with 1336. They identified those who are “drawn to chaos” through their affirmative responses to the following statements:
- I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.
- I think society should be burned to the ground.
- When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking “just let them all burn.”
- We cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.
- Sometimes I just feel like destroying beautiful things.
This study gives weight to the whole meme-y argument that some political agitators just want to "stick it to the libs/man/rich". Like, literally, that's it. I'm sure you'll all be surprised to learn that the brunt of these individuals mostly happen to be young white men. There's no political motivation here beyond just "fuck everything".
And this just, well, makes sense. There is a non-insignificant portion of our friends and neighbours who just don't give a fuck, but want to make sure the world knows they don't give a fuck, so they lash out by providing political support to obvious idiots and bigots, spreading hateful memes on social media, acting the troll, and seeking to incite for the sake of incitement alone. I personally know a number of such individuals and I'm sure most of you do too.
The rise in influence of those who think and act like this is now having obvious, and measurable, effects on our society. The Russians have realized this and have worked to weaponize it against their rivals in the West.
So, some of you may be saying "do-doy R.U. We all knew this already, so, why are you making this thread?" Well, you don't have to be a silly goose about it, I'll tell ya! Sheesh!
I want to talk about two things. First, what do you guys think the biggest contributing factors are to the rise of this mentality? My thoughts:
- Rising wealth inequality leading to a rise of an increasingly disenfranchised lower and middle class (aka good 'ol "economic anxiety")
- resulting attitude: "fuck the rich, fuck the Man"
- Increase in efforts to better social equality for all leading to feelings of resentment from a historically privileged class
- resulting attitude: "fuck the libs, fuck those SJWs", racism, homophobia, bigotry in general
- And yeah, I'm gonna go there: changes in the entertainment landscape.
- Yep, I'm talking about South Park, Rick and Morty and other influential pieces of media.
- Oh, I'm also including cable news in this. Yep, that means you, Fox, but don't think you're getting away with anything CNN and MSNBC.
Secondly, I want to talk about solutions. What are some actual, realistic, steps that can be taken by people like us to start to enact change? Are the nihilist/"chaos inciters" maybe right? Maybe the system is so irrevocably fucked that it really does need to be torn down? If that's the case, is there a way we can work to take down the system justly, without so much collateral damage? (please bear forum rules in mind when considering your answer)
On the other hand, if the chaos inciters are wrong, and their tactics are truly damaging to the fabric of society, what can the rest of us do, realistically? What are our responsibilities when dealing with such individuals we happen to know in real life? Is ignoring them good enough, or do we have a responsibility to actively engage and dissuade? What about containment and/or consequences for such individuals? What do those look like and how can they be enforced in a society that holds freedom of expression as a foundational principle?
I understand that such questions could lead into overlap with other topics that we already have threads for, so, to keep it focused, I'd like to recommend we stick to the topic of these so-dubbed "chaos inciters" and their enablers specifically, without delving too much into legislation and politics, and focus more on what each of us, personally, can do to work towards addressing this issue.
I hope I've given enough food for thought, please let me know your thoughts on the topic, thanks!