The big problem with digital smallness

The arrival of the internet was supposed to make the world better. It would give us the means to connect globally—a great opportunity for us to broaden our minds. Terence Tse, Olaf Groth, Mark Esposito and Dan Zehr write that the ideal scenario has not materialised and, instead, the internet is making us small-minded slaves to social media platforms. They call for governments, businesses, and individuals to build a technology environment that embraces empathy and humility.

In September 2021, a hashtag called “#anti2010” appeared on TikTok and Twitter in France. It was a concerted effort by college students to cyber-bully younger children who are 10 or 11 years old – 2010 being the year they were born. #anti2010 had received some 40 million hits on TikTok before it was removed. But the damage was already done. Even children who were not on social media became victims as they were called names at school. The situation was so bad that Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister of France, had to intervene, bringing in a protection campaign and condemning such online bullying as “completely stupid and against our values.”

What prompted #2010 in the first place? Seemingly, it stemmed from the popular video game Fortnite. Younger gamers were accused of failing to follow an unwritten code of conduct and ethical rules. If this was indeed the true cause, it was enough to create connective anger, triggering bullying en masse.

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