The ways in which the new public (information) spaces of social media are shaping the expectations and assumptions placed, in many cases enforced, on individual behaviour – contain significant revelations for this shared digital world of ours.
The power of internalised self-perceptions garnered from the assertions and judgements of others – this has always been an energising aspect of human social and psychological identity. The hyper-sensitivities of online social spaces have created this new moral matrix, one in which the baselines for participation and the parameters for acceptable behaviour are so rapidly evolving that just keeping up with the requirements to maintain social relevance, perhaps always an effort, has now become exhausting.
We can expect to observe a reflexive social media effect of “tuning out”, where some people desensitise to the needs and expectations of their adopted online communities. Responding to these new moral pressures with a degree of burnout and fatigue, they will perhaps either: switch off altogether and drop out of the online competition; retreat into more rigidly defined cliques set in opposition to the accelerating moral metamorphoses they perceive everywhere around them; or, in a general panic and anxiety of self-identity which may exist already but have been intensified by the contextual fluidity of this world (and its reflexively dynamic self) – they may turn to aggressively competitive attempts to define their own boundaries and identities through public displays of online trolling and harassment at varying degrees of sophistication.