Need a Guide to Destroying Social Cohesion: Chinese Academics Have One for You

May 25, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The TikTok service is one that has kicked the Google in its sensitive bits. The “algorithm” befuddles both European and US “me too” innovators. The ability of short, crunchy videos has caused restaurant chefs to craft food for TikTok influencers who record meals. Chefs!

What other magical powers can a service like TikTok have? That’s a good question, and it is one that the Chinese academics have answered. Navigate to “Weak Ties Strengthen Anger Contagion in Social Media.” The main idea of the research is to validate a simple assertion: Can social media (think TikTok, for example) take a flame thrower to social ties? The answer is, “Sure can.” Will a social structure catch fire and collapse? “Sure can.”

5 19 social structure on fire

A frail structure is set on fire by a stream of social media consumed by a teen working in his parents’ garden shed. MidJourney would not accept the query a person using a laptop setting his friends’ homes on fire. Thanks, Aunt MidJourney.

The write up states:

Increasing evidence suggests that, similar to face-to-face communications, human emotions also spread in online social media.

Okay, a post or TikTok video sparks emotion.

So what?

…we find that anger travels easily along weaker ties than joy, meaning that it can infiltrate different communities and break free of local traps because strangers share such content more often. Through a simple diffusion model, we reveal that weaker ties speed up anger by applying both propagation velocity and coverage metrics.

The authors note:

…we offer solid evidence that anger spreads faster and wider than joy in social media because it disseminates preferentially through weak ties. Our findings shed light on both personal anger management and in understanding collective behavior.

I wonder if any psychological operations professionals in China or another country with a desire to reduce the efficacy of the American democratic “experiment” will find the research interesting?

Stephen  E Arnold, May 25, 2023


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