This is based on something I originally published on Medium on March 03, 2020.
My post from around 3pm UK time (i.e. March 03) shows something VERY striking about social media today, with potentially HUGE ramifications in terms of social attitudes shifts.
Something very intriguing happened on this post from a controversial UK tabloid: I’m simply going to speculate on it objectively.
Given the laws passed in the UK several years go, there is a very wide difference between the number of positive vs negative emoji reactions here. The difference in fact is so large that it raises non-trivial questions in sociology and history about whether there is or is not a large attitudinal shift underway that is even greater than some may have thought. At the time of posting, there were about 150 or so negative responses (angry, surprised or sad) and well over three thousand positive responses (like, love or laugh). Even if some of the likes were the ‘ah, interesting’ kind of like, and even if some of the reactions were sarcastic, it’s still a huge gulf in statistical terms. Other possible explanations: large amount of inauthentic reactions, greater interest nationally or globally in the Daily Mail or similar publications, greater interest in the media more generally, a huge and relatively sudden shift in attitudes towards this topic, or a more pronounced tendency to subordinate this topic to partisan political allegiances. It’s not entirely clear which of the possible explanations above are most compelling, but they are generally not mutually exclusive.
And here is the original post:
Still about a similar ratio of about 20 positive reactions to about 1 negative one.
I didn’t give exact statistics earlier in the day: but for now when I’m checking (4.15 pm or so, i.e. roughly an hour later:
So that’s about 30 to 1.
Now again: all open to interpretation. Some of the ‘love’ emojis may have been done in solidarity, so may not have been endorsements. Some of the ‘likes’ may also have been a casual ‘noted.’ Some of those two may also have been sarcastic.
However, even taking that into account, the contrast between ‘probably supportive’ and ‘probably oppositional’ comments is simply huge.
It’s not very clear what’s going on, but it’s difficult to imagine this happening a few years ago.
Everything I’ve done above is pretty objective and unpolemical.
I’ve noted a striking phenomenon that could perhaps represent very serious and dramatic shift in social attitudes, even though there are several qualifying factors here too about how to interpret the six kinds of reaction options of Facebook and their underlying psychology, or about the role inauthentic social media actors from many different countries might be playing.
Here are a few quotes to finish off, which are just a random sample of the strong feelings about this topic. Some are pro, some are anti:
And this is coming from a man who is murdered people and made disappear in his Korea and everybody saying good job wow you really have your priorities screwed up
I should say, in the eyes of the Creator of man, how dare man shake their fist at This Creator, This God of Abraham, and challenge Him with, I will do it My Way, and what are you going to do about it !
It is pathetic that people are programmed to be hateful to people because of who they are, what they believe, as long as people are not raping, murdering, hurtig people physically and or psychologically they should not be harmed.
It’s a self-destructive mode of existence. Putin is right. Marriage is one man, one woman and any other arrangement is nothing less than fabricated, social, re-engineering.
His duty to stop consenting adults to live their lives? Who made him god? 😏
This is what happens when the Dictator and Russian Orthodox church run the country.
That is good from him it should be stopped no religion agree with it
This is why republicans suddenly love Russia. During the Cold War they hated them and anyone who wasn’t a Republican was a commie. They pick and choose their political values like they pick and choose which parts of the Bible to reference.
God’s plan for family is still valid Genesis 2:24!!!
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
nice to know that the child murderer is staying with his normal moral standards
He surely has the majority of our Politicians beat, altogether, with his wisdom of what is GOOD and what is Sacrilegious. He could surely teach most Democrats that “same sex marriage:” and the” evil slaughter of innocent babies” IS WHAT IT IS,EVIL.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? YOU’D support putin over a Mayor Pete, a veteran? Good God, this is frightening.
Countries leader has no right to tell a person how to live their life. Thank God America is not a dictatorship yet. We are closed but we’re not there
How did the west manage to convince the world that this is the right of any man to practice but they look down on men having multiple wives. Very strange indeed.
was never his fan but I support him on this and I think other leaders should do the same thing, Same marriage is one of the bad thing Obama did
People are going to b what they want to b law or no law
He says for future generation
But this is the future generation
Russia go with the times
U can’t force people
The world just laughs at his leadership. I feel sorry for Russians who don’t get a choice. He rightly bangs on the sadness of what happened in WW2 in Russia, but does him self no favour’s into trying to be Hitler no:2.
Im glad i live in America where your religion doesn’t matter to the constitution
their country they can make the laws .
If people want to be with the same sex then that’s fine, thats just the way they are… but marriage has always been a sacred act between a man and a women, not that I’m religious but that is just how it is.
Twisting the words as always, he is simply implementing what a majority of Russian people want, he is not some evil man deliberately trying to destroy others’ lives.
Well it is my duty to stop communist USSR. Which is what Russia is becoming, again.
Putin good on you it’s part of the fight against coronavirus they should’t be engaging at all in case of viruses
Yet that’s who Bernie gets his ideas from. Literally visiting him and talking about it
Places himself higher than God !!!!
It is important to not only watch carefully how discussions and debates develop in terms of ideas and rhetoric, but also to take a quantitative approach: with regards to comments, shares and emoji reactions.
What can the numbers tell us?
Pretty strong views there.
Just checking as of 7.15 UK time, and there are roughly 9 200 like, loves and laughs, and about 650 sad, angry and surprised. So that’s about 10 to 1; slightly more than, in fact.
However, the jury is out on how far attitudinal shifts may or may not be at play here. There are of course a lot of alternative explanations, as already mentioned above.
How many of the strong reactions, either with emojis or in terms of comments, are from the UK? How many from other countries? And if attitudes have changed to whatever degree, how much is that people being more open about what they really thought, rather than than changing their actual inner mindset on this topic?
It could well be that the whole scenario is fabricated hysteria from online troublemakers.
However, one prominent UK broadsheet, the Guardian, cites some recent figures.
In 1987 when every household received sombre leaflets warning “don’t die of ignorance”, nine out of 10 people thought there was something wrong with sexual relations between two adults of the same sex.
The finding, based on a survey of 2,884 people, coincided with the first dip in more than a decade in people saying they think sex before marriage is not at all wrong, with people from non-Christian religious groups the most likely to disapprove.
There is much that is uncertain here. But one thing is fairly clear: it seems that attitudes, at least to some degree, have shifted. Whether the shift is minor or major, and how that will develop in future, remains to be seen.