A Glimmer of Hope for a More Tolerant World
It may come as no surprise but recent stats show that almost five billion people, around the world, use social media—to connect, to stay informed, or simply to express ourselves. There’s no doubt digital platforms have become an integral part of our lives, but they can also be a breeding ground for intolerance.
November 16 is the International Day of Tolerance.
Tolerance is more than just putting up with each other; although that is a good start. The Macquarie Dictionary defines tolerance as:
“the disposition to be patient and fair towards those whose opinions or practices differ from one’s own”.
Since social media is such a dominant force in today’s society, on this International Day of Tolerance, it’s worth asking the question: Does social media help or hinder us in being tolerant—patient and fair—towards those whose opinions or practices differ from our own?
Online social networks make it very easy for us to connect with people who share our interests and views. But, we also hear about the evils of social media, and the way these digital platforms are designed to be addictive—keeping us engaged and scrolling.
In fact, both these features work together to create echo chambers, where we are increasingly exposed primarily to opinions and information that reinforce our own existing beliefs.
And while this may seem benign to many, research has found that when we are limited to seeing content that confirms our own views, we become more radical in those views. In addition, we are more likely to believe false information if it further justifies these views.
This helps the spread of misinformation, producing a vicious cycle where echo chambers and hate speech feed off each other: the ideal conditions for intolerance.
Intolerance is not a new problem though. Way back in 1945, then US president Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote,
“Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships—the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace.”
In 2023, on International Day for Tolerance, this is worth serious contemplation.
What does it look like to cultivate the science of human relationships?
➟ Perhaps the first step is to look at ourselves and our own attitudes. UNESCO suggests asking ourselves these questions: Am I a tolerant person? Do I stereotype people? Do I reject those who are different from me? Do I blame my problems on ‘them’?
➟ It is important to be aware of our own echo chambers and to seek out information from a variety of sources. We also need to think critically about the information we see and to be sceptical of information that seems too good to be true.
➟ Intolerance is more likely when there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of others. So, let’s broaden our horizons, meet people outside our normal spheres, listen to their stories, take time to learn about other cultures etc. And be quick to listen, and slow to judge.
➟ Ensure any hate speech or bullying on social media is reported to the platform.
➟ Take time out from digital conversations and talk to people face to face.
➟ When we do engage in online conversations with those whose opinions differ from our own, respect goes a long way.
➟ Check out Glimmer—the social network that believes in being kind to each other.
A little about us
Glimmer does social media differently.
Glimmer is a platform for all people to share their stories and perspectives on sustainability and well-being. This creates a more inclusive and tolerant space for everyone to participate in the conversation, helping each other look after our planet and our well-being.
Glimmer promotes tolerance by highlighting the importance of diversity and equity; everyone has a role to play in building a more sustainable future, and a more just and equitable world.
Let’s work together to foster a harmonious society where we can all live and work together in peace.
In line with 2023 EU recommendations for online platforms, Glimmer prioritises:
➟ diligent content moderation to enable respectful conversation and collaboration
➟ transparency and accountability
➟ digital privacy and security for all, placing a high value on protecting users’ personal information, allowing options for personalised settings to improve digital well-being
➟ providing information from credible sources.
Let’s take better care of ourselves, each other, and our planet—through responsible and ethical online communication and collaboration. Be that glimmer of hope for a more tolerant world.
Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. Draft Report. https://groenlinks.nl/sites/groenlinks/files/2023-09/Initiatiefrapport%20Verslavend%20Ontwerp.pdf
Corporate social responsibility and public diplomacy as formulas to reduce hate speech on social media in the fake news era. Doncel-Martín, I., Catalan-Matamoros, D., & Elías, C. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/CCIJ-04-2022-0040/full/html
Disinformation and Echo Chambers: How Disinformation Circulates on Social Media Through Identity-Driven Controversies. Diaz Ruiz, C., Nilsson, T. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/07439156221103852
International Day for Tolerance. https://www.unesco.org/en/days/tolerance?TSPD_101_R0=080713870fab2000fb6dee85429c721a63ea222d3bb53ea6d351a27c09d83c3858cb067962b983ca0830dd9fa5143000936f6ad98d6450a918a0a0022eca994b13b55a8db897586ed2c24e20f35882e5b00d681f842245c9da18343cefecd2b3
Intolerance on social media: #refugeeswelcome and the Paris terrorist attacks. https://theconversation.com/intolerance-on-social-media-refugeeswelcome-and-the-paris-terrorist-attacks-106795
Top social media statistics and trends of 2023. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/social-media-statistics/