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“Someone once described Twitter as being like having a loaded gun on your person at every point in time,” Rosenquist says.“Twitter, by its nature, is particularly ephemeral and impulsive. Because of that, if someone is calling you out, presumably you get angry—and with the impulsiveness of responding quickly, you don’t have the time to think about it.
When they do, it turns into the type of media controversy that spawns hundreds of articles like this one.
But while that may be exhausting, Rutledge says, it’s still not an excuse.
In other words, when it comes to flame wars or trolling arguments online, oftentimes we’re arguing with an imaginary cypher we imbue with all of the attributes that frustrate us, for perhaps wholly unrelated reasons.
The end result is fighting over nothing, with someone who may or may not even exist.
Many things can deplete our cognitive capacity or lower our cognitive control,” she says.
Public figures don’t have the luxury of being able to lose control every now and again.
The situation between ESPN’s Olbermann and Ecuador’s Correa are somewhat different, of course, in that one party is a powerful group that cracks down on dissent and isn't open to any sort of criticism, and the other is the government of Ecuador.
This week, in a piece called “How To Tweet If You Are A Famous Athlete,” Deadspin noted an exchange between San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a random troll who questioned his preparation techniques.
Olbermann isn't the first powerful public figure to go snorkeling in the septic tank, and he certainly won't be the last.
Last week, John Oliver made light of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for his habit of calling out social media critics by name, including an 18-year-old whose personal information he made widely available.
It’s not like a nasty email, where it’s a dyad between you and another person. Combine the kind of people involved in these situations, and the general psychology of people like that, and the drug-like nature of these platforms, and the ability to be very impulsive there is really hard mix.” And Rosenquist also speculates that a lot of public figures may be sheltered, or protected by handlers who either read their emails or run their social media accounts.