Jul 282019 1 Response

Siri Makes Me Hate People

Technology inflates hate.

I’m not saying we are incapable of hate without technology. Racism, bigotry, jealousy, contempt, rudeness, and a plethora of other bad behaviors existed long before technology. Siri didn’t make Cain kill Abel. A few World Wars started without iPhones. People hated each other long before Facebook stalkers, Twitter trolls, or SnapChat wars.

But technology does hinder our experiences of empathy and compassion. It makes us more likely to dehumanize others and breeds negative emotions/feelings toward our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. It especially hinders our ability to love those we do not know, who look different than us, or who have beliefs with which we do not agree.

The more we interact with others via technology rather than in person, our empathy decreases and our hate increases. (See: I’m Not Psychic, Your Anger Is Telling)

Why Technology Shrinks Our Hearts

Technology hinders compassion for a very simple reason. It limits the amount of information we have about another person. When I speak with you face to face, my mind is taking in hundreds of data points. I hear your words, inflection, and tone. My mind subconsciously interprets small muscle movements in your face. My eyes see your eyes reminding me of your humanity, revealing to me joy, anger, surprise, or hurt. I see your gestures, understand the difference between a tense hand of frustration and a quick hand movement of excitement. Every second, your body communicates in a variety of ways giving me an overwhelming amount of information.

Technology strips all of that way. Communication is narrowed to simple words. As I deal with more limited information, my mind is forced to create the context for your words. I have to imagine what you mean, interpret what you are saying, and infer a great deal of information which you may or may not be implying.

The more I have to guess about you, your feelings, and your emotions, the more likely I am to write a bad story about you.

We Are Horribly Good

Humanity has a tremendous ability to take limited information and fill in the rest of the story. With just a few letters revealed, we can solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzle. With just a few charts we can correctly predict the future of the stock price. With just a few facts we can rightly predict what our child will do.

We are good at taking limited information and finding patterns, making predictions, and determining outcomes of what others might do. But we are not good at understanding who others are, what they feel, and the reason they are doing what they are doing. (See: 5 Ways to Be a Better Person on Facebook)

More often than not, when we have limited information/interaction with others, we wrongly judge their heart and intentions. We assume people are more evil, cold, and manipulative than they really are.

Doubt Your Hate

Knowing this tendency regarding technology, we must regularly question our hate. If we dislike people, doubt their motives, or assume they are worse people than we are, we should question our conclusions. Our thoughts may not be wrong. Sometimes people are selfish, greedy, and filled with horrific intentions. But most of the time they aren’t. In most cases, they are just like us–imperfect, broken, flawed, but also loving, kind, well-intended. Some of their desires might be evil, but other aspects are good.

If we don’t doubt our hate, we will quickly assume the worst about others when that judgment is beneficial to us.

It’s to our advantage to assume our political opponents are evil. Then we don’t have listen to their viewpoints or doubt ours.

It’s to our benefit to assume our work competition is ill-intended. Then we can demonize everything they do and assume our every action is perfect.

It’s to our gain to think others corrupt. Then we don’t have to look at our own motives and desires.

We want to hate others because we think it excuses us from loving them (if you are a Christian, it doesn’t), and loving others is always difficult and demanding.

But hate never helps. Instead, our dislike for others poisons relationships, prevents progress, and precludes meaningful change. This is why we must doubt our ill-feelings toward others and assume (until clearly proven otherwise) that we have simply misjudged them.

FaceTime Over Facebook

Understanding our inability to properly evaluate others, especially through technology, should change our behaviors at home, work, and community.

We should:

Choose to walk down the hallway to our coworkers office rather than quickly replying to a terse email.

Call a friend rather than responding to a frustrating text.

Direct message someone on Facebook seeking clarity rather than continuing the long string of public messages.

Intentionally spend in-person time with those we love, work with, and value.

Recognize that how we feel about politicians whom we only see on television or social media is not a fair evaluation of them.

 When things get tense, recognize the fallacy of technology and be fair with others.

Technology hinders empathy. If our society is growing in hate, it’s because we are spending less time with others in person and more time interacting with others through technology. It’s good to use technology, but we should not trust it regarding our feelings toward others. (See: Don’t Be a Facebook Piranha)

We were made to relate to others, not simply tweet at them.

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