We all know about “mob mentality;” the idea that if you get a lot of people together in the same space, it can lead to these people being influenced to adopt certain ideas and become very hostile to opposing ideas. Sometimes mobs form organically around common frustrations or fandoms, but another (and arguably more effective) way to form a mob is by building an audience through a platform.
Internet platforms are especially scary because internet mobs are very unlikely to be moderated or tempered. When you have to deal with your perceived opposition face to face, I feel that you’re much more likely to see that person as, well, a person. On the internet though, we only see words and pictures, we interact with people we’ll likely never meet, and this brings out the worst in us.
It could be argued that if a person is responsible with their platform, these dangerous mobs won’t form, but I think we’ve seen it before where people who are doing their best to bring positivity into the world, but the community they’ve built turns it into something negative. A few years ago Hank and John Green, the vlogbrothers, who I consider to be great people who are doing good things in the world; had developed a community (the “nerdfighters”) that a lot of people considered to be full of self-righteous and exclusive brats. So much so that Benjamin Cook devoted an entire episode of his YouTube series BECOMING YOUTUBE to them. The nerdfighters seem to have gotten their act together (maybe they’ve grown up) but this goes to show that sometimes an audience can become toxic even with the people who built that audience aren’t.
This video is mainly just me thinking out loud, but I feel like I have to think about this as a person who is in the midst of building a platform and cultivating a community. I could be completely off base here, but it’s still worth bringing up.