Heroes

The science of why the comment section on just about anything is so awful

We're people. People have feelings. Feelings make you do things. Things that are not always the best things.

The science of why the comment section on just about anything is so awful

The comment section. It's where angry people go to express how angry they are at whatever they're commenting on.


Unfortunately, one of the side effects of anger is that it makes you dumb.

No really, it does.

Angry people tend to rely on cognitive shortcuts — easy rules of thumb — rather than on more systematic reasoning. They're also quick to blame individuals, rather than aspects of a situation, for problems. — Harvard Business Review

Anger also (surprise!) makes you mean and over-sensitive.

Even when the object of subsequent judgments bears no relation to the source of one's anger, anger increases: (1) a desire to blame individuals, (2) tendencies to overlook mitigating details before attributing blame, (3) tendencies to perceive ambiguous behavior as hostile, (4) tendencies to discount the role of uncontrollable factors when attributing causality, and (5) punitiveness in response to witnessing mistakes made by others. — European Journal of Social Psychology

And when you sprinkle a little online anonymity on top, you get something amazing awful.



Angry people being angry at each other and making each other angrier. And then they angrily tell other people how angry they are so more people can be angry with them.

This

becomes this

becomes this

and exactly zero productive discussion occurs.

Everyone is too busy

  • blaming individuals
  • overlooking mitigating details before attributing blame
  • perceiving ambiguous behavior as hostile
  • discounting the role of uncontrollable factors when attributing cause
  • and being punitive in response to mistakes made by others

just like they said in the study mentioned above.

So it's no surprise that anger is one of the most effective ways to get us to share things online.

Anger may be a particularly effective way to get people talking, but as the video shows, there are a lot more emotions that can be involved.

Some University of Pennsylvania researchers scienced it up and figured out we humans quite like feeling things. This chart from the video is based on their research and shows what motivates people to share things.

Knowing what you know now, it might be tempting to look at everything on the Internet like this:

The Internet is trying to manipulate you and that's OK. There is nothing wrong with wanting to share emotions.

Sometimes sharing emotions can make something really, really good happen.

Did you see this last year?

If so, you're in a club of over 12 million people. And you know what they did?

Upworthy didn't do that. A bunch of really emotional people did that. They felt things. They shared them. And then they helped try to make the world better by donating their own money.

So share all the feels! (But maybe share anger less loudly.)

Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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