Every week we read more and more stories of someone who commits suicide, gets fired, gets "canceled", abandoned, or worse, because of a conflict or misunderstanding involving social media. Using theories that originated in studies of extremism and terrorism, Jessica Emami analyzes the processes that drive people to punish others using social media. Professor Emami makes a case that "cyberpunishment" is driven by outrage against our personal sense of morality, and a deep desire for our act of punishment to be acknowledged by others. Moreover, she demonstrates that today's social media platforms are by their very structure unable to curb or resist cyberpunishment.
Jessica Emami is adjunct professor of sociology at American University. She specializes in technology and globalization.
Chapter 1: This is an Outrage!
Chapter 2: Instilling Terror – On- and Offline
Chapter 3: When Images Lie
Chapter 4: No Sense of Face
Chapter 5: News Worlds
Media connect things that would otherwise remain separate. At the same time, they can also be used in various ways to disconnect things that are already linked. Their effects are at once both positive and negative. As electronic communications technologies reshape the world, they inevitably "create chaos, cacophony, vexation, and destruction" along with the various so-called improvements they bring (p. xv). Emami examines how current online media platforms unavoidably create an environment of conflict and misinformation, leading to what she calls "cyberpunishment." Drawing from social-psychological theories including Terror Management Theory and Quest for Significance Theory, Emami analyzes the process through which users online engage in activities that far exceed the parameters of acceptability in ordinary life. As the many real-life examples in the book demonstrate, these incidents, though often caused by exclusively virtual or digital personas, events, and situations, often result in tragedy. Sensitive to the diverse contexts around cyber misbehavior, the book offers a useful guide for not only plumbing the depth of a problem but also finding a solution to it. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty, professionals, and general readers.
Using communication technology as a unit of analysis, sociologist Jessica Emami drills down to our human quest for acknowledgement, affirmation, and heroism that underlies both individual and online group misbehavior. This book evaluates widely viewed social media accounts, revealing that public shaming, shunning, and knowledge distortion are very much alive in the public sphere. Timely and provocative, Social Media Victimization: Theories and Impacts of Cyberpunishment exposes the predatory and punitive nature of our digital world, warning that anyone can be a target on social media platforms.
Social Media Victimization explores the treacherous world of social media where winners achieve fame and losers are ostracized. The book examines the role of rewards and punishment in an environment where sensationalism sells and polarization ignites conflict. An innovative book, Social Media Victimization is a must read for anyone interested in radicalization and political polarization.
In clear and precise prose, Jessica Emami lays out compelling arguments regarding one of the most disturbing and ubiquitous forms of social hate in our time: cyberpunishment or “cancelling.” Explaining various reasons for why people in seemingly anonymous web space bully, harass, cancel, and mob one another, the author brings us closer to understanding and, hopefully, minimizing the impact of this social scourge. A must read.
As social media increasingly shapes our shared discourse, its manipulation can victimize not only individuals but also deny freedom of thought and speech to society writ large, endangering the traditional institutions of democratic governance and the rule of law. Jessica Emami opens the complexity of expression on social media platforms, refuting the myth that the expansive role of technology in our lives is essentially healthy and liberating. The many open questions brought forth by Social Media Victimization: Theories and Impacts of Cyberpunishment can inform the work of legal theorists, legislators, corporations, and activists as they seek solutions to the harmful repercussions of our new modes of social interaction.
Dr. Emami’s superb book, meanwhile, is an ideal platform for exploring many of the contested spaces of the social media domain. Highly recommended for sociologists, scholars, specialists, and the general public alike, it illuminates a path forward out of the shadowy corners of the cybersphere.