What has Periscope taught me?

I love Periscope. In my opinion it is the next thing in social media (SM). It is different to other SM because there is real-time interaction on a large scale. No other SM is like this. It is possible to interact with a couple of hundred people simultaneously in Periscope. Unlike other mediums the interaction is delayed, after the fact.

Anyway, one important thing Periscope has taught me is how to deal with trolls. Not only are trolls annoying to me but also to my viewers. I had not realised until using Periscope that others (my viewers) are equally annoyed with them. Up until then I had always thought of the viewers as a collective. But by understanding that each viewer is an individual with separate thoughts and feelings to what they are seeing (my scope) I realised that the troll is no longer what my viewers thought but that they are the extreme minority, perhaps an individual without a clue as to what proper social means.

At some level it has much to with, or the lack of, empathy. By being able to “put yourself into someone else’s shoes” we can empathise – know what another person feels or is feeling. The anonymity of the sign – the username – gives trolls the power to do what they feel without consequence.

Sigmund Freud broke this down to what, I think, are nice (and still relevant) categories. He called these the superego, id and ego. The superego is what society wants you to do. The id is what you really want to do. The ego is what you do in the face of conflict between your superego and id. So in Peri-land (or Scope-land) we are told to be civil to each other (don’t do or say unto others what you do not want done to you). But your id tells you to be selfish and that if people and their feelings do not exist this is what I would do. But after thinking about it your ego tells you that being nasty will have consequences because people have feelings, even though you do not want to acknowledge it.

In the end, it is all about whether you want to see others as lifeless but moving objects, or as having the same kinds of feelings as yourself. This acknowledgement is not easy because ultimately we have no direct access to other people’s thoughts and feelings. We can only guess at them through experience and inference. This is also what perhaps what The Buddha had meant by suffering.

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