Between trolls, bots and influencers: Eva Minas assesses the internet’s “rage amplification machine” in her new book. It provides a revealing analysis of digital societies that have become increasingly aggressive. In the interview you talk about what can be said against them.
Eva Minas, born in Vienna in 1970, is a former journalist and now a writer and essayist. Her novels and short stories have won numerous awards. She lives in Berlin.
SRF: What is your stance against the Internet?
Eva Minas: Nothing. It offers great opportunities. But at the same time, digital mass communication has also created massive havoc among people. Social media has created a parallel universe in which we have all become nastier, more cruel, and unable to compromise. This in turn affects the analog world.
Social media platforms are anger amplifying machines. They are poisoning public space.
Facebook or X (formerly Twitter) were supposedly invented to maintain friendships. What’s left of him?
That was a lie from the beginning. They were created to increase the wealth of their owners. What is the best way to do this? By making people addicted. The most common applications are designed like pharmaceuticals. They stimulate the release of dopamine and target the reward center in the brain. Users stay online longer when their aggression is triggered. Social media platforms are anger amplifying machines. They are poisoning public space.
In your book you compare the behavior on these portals to gladiator games.
Yes. What happens on social media has little in common with civil discussions in the Roman Forum or the Agora in Athens. I see similarities to animal hunting or gladiatorial games in ancient Rome. These scenes channeled the discontent of the masses, directing anger away from those in power and toward random, disposable victims. A similar mechanism operates on the Internet today.
She says neither Brexit nor Trump’s election would have been possible without digital communications disinformation tactics.
You have to respect the fact and point out that Barack Obama actually worked with censored election campaigns on Facebook. Certain content is only shown to certain people – a highly undemocratic process. Everyone never sees the same thing. Like before, when we all looked at the same poster on the street and perhaps discussed it. The posters were also propaganda, but what Steve Bannon and Trump supporters have concocted in their wizarding digital kitchens puts old propaganda lies to shame.
Essentially, medieval grains have been reintroduced
But it’s not just right-wingers you attack in your book. “The Waken” also gets the fat.
The woke movement in its extreme forms is an absolute ideological aberration, like the K groups of the 1970s. It is not only right-wing extremists who are vulnerable to inhumane ideologies, but leftists can do the same. If dozens of politically correct bigots tag someone as essentially transphobic or anti-Semitic, medieval pills have been reintroduced.
Short review: “Say Everything and Nothing” by Eva Minas
The Internet and social media portals make us more evil, more aggressive and hateful – and they also disrupt social coexistence as a whole. This is the central thesis of Eva Minasse’s new book. With brilliant style and acerbic content, the Austrian author exposes the story of the Internet’s “great democratization machine” for what it is: a fictional story.
Now anti-social media exists in the world. what should be done?
We will not be able to avoid restrictions one way or another. This must be done in an internationally coordinated manner. I don’t see myself in the role of a problem solver, but rather as an analyst. Whereas: Solving the problem must begin with the correct analysis.
Interview conducted by Günter Kindelstorfer.
Eva Minas: “Saying Everything and Nothing – On the State of Controversy in Digital Modernity”, Kiebenhauer & Wich 2023.
Highlights of this week’s cultural events in our newsletter
Discover inspiration, stories and treasures from the world of culture: every Sunday, straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the newsletter now.
SRF Radio 2 Kultur, A look at the features, November 2, 2023, 7:50 am; Günter Kindelstorfer
“Tv specialist. Friendly web geek. Food scholar. Extreme coffee junkie.”