A study led by Andrew Tsou shows that the same TED videos on a different platform yield a dissimilarity in the comment section. The study shows that 72% of the comments on ted.com were relevant to the actual content, compared to Youtube that was only 57%. As I expected, the number of insults about TED videos on Youtube were unreasonably high which is 5.7% compared to less than 1% on the ted.com platform.
For a regular TED viewer, the statistics are pretty unsettling. Because when I watched TED videos, the action to insult someone never came across my mind, maybe when I watched the news, but never when I watched TED videos, especially not TED videos. However, as an early post-millenials that uses youtube every day, trolls and insulting comments are just neighbors across the hall that are getting louder and louder.
Anonymity and Deindividuated Behavior
When one’s identity is hidden just like the millions of youtube users, they are more likely to bully, insult, and engage in anti social behavior. The reason for this tendency traced back to our evolutionary history. Our minds are not built for the advanced civilization that we live in now. Back then, we used to communicate and interact in a small group such as tribes that enabled us to know our neighbors and partners, so there are no strangers in the group. If you want to say something, you need to say it directly face to face. By being forced to use a direct form of communication, we have manners and we often think of the consequences before we say anything.
With a glance of the many comments and contents on social media, we could see that schadenfreude has a big role on youtube. Schadenfreude is the joy that we gain from seeing another person’s misfortune and harm. For example, if you search “funny videos” on youtube, many contents that display is related to schadenfreude. Either it’s about a fat person fall off a bicycle, or a kid that fails to land on a swimming pool. The point is, schadenfreude is everywhere on youtube, and people loved it. Even though it doesn’t have a serious detrimental effect, it ruins the surprise factor on many “funny videos compilation” because you know that the person will fail anyway.
Echo Chamber and Polarization
A couple of decades back, if you believe that the governments are spying on us, it’s pretty hard to find another person that also believes in the conspiracy. You probably meet some friends that agree with you and that’s it. Currently, because of the colossal scale of the internet, billions of people are connected to many platforms such as youtube. With the amazing algorithm that search engine posses, it’s effortless to meet thousands of people that shares the same belief as you. Therefore, the echo chamber is created. When you put confirmation bias into action with search engines, it’s easy to think that everyone agrees with your beliefs hence amplifies someone’s belief and delusionality that creates polarization.
Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Del Vicario, M., Puliga, M., Scala, A., Caldarelli, G., . . . Quattrociocchi, W. (2016, August 23). Users Polarization on Facebook and Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4994967/
Davis, M. (2019, March 18). Why do we feel schadenfreude – and who it feels it the most? Retrieved from https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/psychology-of-schadenfreude
Posted by Anonymous. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201901/posted-anonymous
Tsou, A., Thelwall, M., Mongeon, P., & Sugimoto, C. R. (n.d.). A Community of Curious Souls: An Analysis of Commenting Behavior on TED Talks Videos. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0093609