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11 - Kindness Beats Cruelty Online

Today I talk about how kindness in the long term is stronger than cruelty online. While the 'performative cruelty' of online discourse provides entertaining content, it's ultimately substancesless and its toxicity will corrode the community utilizing it. The foundation of online communities must be rooted in kindness to be sustainable and to form constructive change.

Hey folks,

I'm traveling back to Canada from Korea and am doing this podcast in the airport, so apologies for the audio quality.

Today we're going to talk about how kindness is a strength.

We are in an age of "performative cruelty". There is an endless source of people "dunking" on others online, getting virtual points for making burns and zingers at the expense of other people. While this style of content is surely entertaining, we have to wonder what sort of effect that this has on our relationship with empathy. It has become easier than ever to be disconnected from our actions through a screen. Not only is it easier, but there is monetary and personal gain to be had attacking others online.

With all of the incentives in line with cruelty, why should we stop? Are our old virtues not supported anymore with the new virtues found on social networks of the internet age?

In my opinion there is a reason, the practices of cruelty are unsustainable and almost always are eventually turned inward on the groups that utilize it.

Look no further than the purity testing of any radical online group. All of these groups will vet each other endlessly and find new ways to bring down and disrupt the ideas of each other, fracturing the efforts and stopping anything from being achieved.

Without a foundation of kindness, any group will find they are caught in a sea of instability, and inevitably will break apart and die.

Communities based on kindness, might be a little bit slower to start out and grow, but will be able to do so in a more stable manner. The problems and challenges that face a community can be rationally dealt with, without spiraling out of control, as charity and good faith are given to each other.

I'm optimistic about kindness, as I think the groups that make it a core tenant of their culture will be able to sustain themselves longer than those based on cruelty.

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you later