Hated in the Nation
I believe that the episode Hated in the Nation is a reflection of some of the major issues that are present in our society today. In this episode individuals were “hated in the nation” were hand selected by the public on twitter and would receive a “#deathto” followed by their name. The individual who had the most mentions was injected with a bee that ultimately condemned them to death. The bees worked by attacking the persons pain and pleasure centers and causing them an excruciating amount of agony that would untimely kill them or result in suicide for self preservation. Unfortunately, some of the psychological effects that the bug has on the individual in this episode mirror the devastating effects that social media has had on thousands in our society today.
First, there has been an established link between receiving a “like” on social media and the release of endorphins, which are known to elevate mood. Although at first glance this may seem like a positive trait because social media appears to be an outlet for increased happiness however, there are many downfalls. Social media has taken over so much of our lives it has begun to encapsulate many peoples entire identity. As a result when we are shunned, or worse bullied by ours friends, colleges, peers, or family on social media, we are no longer receiving the positive affirmation from likes and comments, and in some cases receiving unwanted and hurtful negative attention. This can ultimately have the opposite affect and can lead to decreased levels of endorphins, depression and in some cases suicide.
This power that social media has on our happiness directly relates to the mechanisms of the bees in the episode. These bees were able to bring someone to the brink of suicide by attaching their pain and pleasure centers. Although the bees caused physical pain to the individual whereas social media causes psychological pain, I believe that the comparison that was being made by the creators of the episode is that we should not disregard the pain that can be caused by social media simple because it is psychological. Despite the fact that we cannot quantify the depression that social media brings upon people in the same way we can tangibly express the physical pain of the bees we should not underestimate the weight of it.
Second, this episode brings to light another pressing issue in our society which is the idea of “mob mentality”. In this episode individuals justified killing virtually innocent citizens by unifying and asserting their dominance and power as a large group on a social media platform. In this episode individuals were able to key off of one another by using the social media account, twitter, to create an invigorating a wide spread message using hashtags that only brought the group closer together. Our innate need to belong and to agree with others is what compels us follow what a group is doing and the mechanisms from social media such as “retweeting” make it much easier for us to jump on the band wagon and continue to spread a message weather or not we truly believe it.
The way individuals in this episode behaved on twitter was unfortunately similar to the way some people act on twitter in our society. We have begun to disregard the magnitude of our actions and how harmful they can be to others. On twitter, what you say is virtually always permanent, because it has the ability to be retweeted and shared by others. Although you may regret and wish to take back what you say if it has been retweeted by even one person it is still out there for the world to see and that is something that is very difficult to do damage control on. With the ability to retweet it has also become so easy for us to simply agree with someone else’s opinion rather than forming a new thought of our own. As a result, some of the same thoughts are circulated around, and become viral regardless of weather or not they are quality.