Is emotion communicable?

Is emotion communicable?

I’ve been having this idea for a few weeks now, since I wrote about “Love hurts haters brains.” What if emotions are communicable? What if, when people post outrage on Twitter, that rage passes to you, and you pass it to others. When we live in a society that is often split by the demon numbers from hell, 52 – 48, everything is polarised. All we’re doing is sharing outrage, spreading the emotion of rage back and forth. A good post for one is a bad post for another. There’s no in-between. Social media is constantly feeling divisive outrage that leaves the network and spreads. It doesn’t even matter what the subject is. Everything is outrage.

What if being connected to these hive minds, for all our good intentions, is bad, and we pass that on? My desire to follow the trans non-binary news leads me to see the latest horrible thing someone has done in the world. Whether I look or not, it happens every day. If I do look I get angry, and I don’t have a place for that anger to go, not consciously. All I seem to be doing is passing that rage on in the real world, whether through micro-aggressions to those I love or to others on the street for trivial things.

That unconscious feeling of anger from social media outrage puts me in a bad place to wander the world, if only going out to make photos or get milk. When someone has a negative reaction to how I present, I am in a bad place to respond. Fuelled by internet anger, I attack the attacker and the attack me back. I post my outrage online, it spreads and carries my anger with it so others can repeat. A never-ending loop.

How can we deal with that? Sarcasm? Oh, that’d be really clever now, wouldn’t it? I’m all for sarcasm, but I doubt it would do any good. Fun, but not really helpful. Leaving social media could help. Less rage in your world to be infected by. Unfortunately I need social media to work… don’t I?

Let’s say I do, for now. Maybe what needs to be done is to find joy when triggered by outrage and put that back into the world somehow? I can’t help but think about the friendly fight scene in Marvel’s Shang Chi. Michelle Yeoh’s character teaches Shang Chi that fighting isn’t about attacking with a fist. It is about a redirection of energy. It isn’t aggression, anger or attack. Something is occurring, and you are altering the state of it.

Obviously, I’m referencing a work of fiction here. I’m not suggesting we start taking spirituality lessons from CGI. There might be something to the idea of communicable emotion, and being more aware of what can happen to your mental state when you consume news and social media. I’ve been hearing it for years, and I’m only starting to understand how it may affect me. I have, of course, read the news and been on Twitter today, because of muscle memory. Maybe I need to learn new things to redirect that focus into positive vibe activities?

To sum things up with a catchy phrase I heard back in my software engineering days. “Garbage in. Garbage out.” Or to take it back to what my parents used to say about my diet. “You are what you eat.” Except now we share everything, so it’s like a scene where someone eats something bad, throws up and everyone around them is triggered to also throw up. Earth, 2023. Blerrrrrgh.

Oh, please remember to share this on social media… 🙃

Further reading

Weekly email features Captains Log, fascinating links and more photos