Sorry for the long quote – each sentence here is meaningful to see how social media’s use as a friction-less platform for propaganda leads to lawlessness and destruction, often based on idiocy:
Josh Cobin’s story shows the strange social merging of virtual life and real life. The accusation that Trump is a fascist started as a typical bit of Twitter hyperbole, and now it stalks America in the form of a GoDaddy employee in a gas mask. To arrive at the notion that hurling things at the police isn’t attacking them, Josh had to confuse what one can get away with saying on a Reddit feed with what one can get away with actually doing on the streets of Phoenix. He looked like a cartoon figure in the online video—he bumbled his way into an online confession of his acts—in confusion about consequences offline. Joshua Stuart Cobin burned his hand because he didn’t know that recently fired tear-gas canisters really are hot, unlike the computer keyboards on which he typed his virtually hot protests against President Trump.
The glory of the Internet is that it allows like-minded people to find one another. And the horror of the Internet is that it allows like-minded people to find one another. Coin collectors, baseball-card enthusiasts, and used-book readers have all benefited from the opportunities offered by online connection. So have neo-Nazis, child-pornographers, and Communist agitators. Where they were once connected only by the sickly sweet smell of the ink from the mimeograph machine clumping away on the kitchen table, the forces of anger now have instantaneous links.
And that instantaneity allows a radicalizing more rapid than the world has ever seen.
Note “the forces of anger” reference at the end. Social media is perfectly matched to the “culture of perpetual outrage” where there is no room for intermediate perspectives, discussion, learning or compromise. It’s either my angry way or your dead!
And it works!
The rest of the article is about statues erected as memorials to (mostly) controversial figures of the Civil War era. But does a good job describing the culture of the perpetually outraged, who will bend themselves into contortions to maintain their outrage:
Social contagion does not need to be historically accurate, or philosophically wise, or even immediately practical. Why would it, when a sense of outrage lures us into mimetic rivalry and rewards agitation with a feeling of moral superiority—all delivered at the speed of the Internet? The local governments moving quickly to preempt protest may buy themselves a little time by hauling down memorials, but the protesters will soon lock on to new targets. The point of their protests, after all, is not correctly choosing what to be outraged by. The point is the outrage itself. The point, as Epictetus would have understood, is the quarrel.
Social media is the haven for the culture of perpetual outrage.