Emocracy: The Chains of “Like”

More than in any previous period of human history, emotions rule our private, professional, and public lives[1]. How, when, and why did the shift from keeping emotions “under cover” towards today’s extrovert emocracy take place? I’m exploring this question in a few posts of which this is the second one[2]. In the first post, I explained Psychology’s Curse: the role of psychology and psychotherapy in describing the tools by which emotions can be managed; creating a dream of a blissful-ever-after emotional state in this life; and upgrading emotions to “what makes us human”. In this post I will talk about the role of social media in bringing emotions to center stage, and in particular about the impact of the “like button”.

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Emocracy: Psychology’s Curse

We live in an age of emocracy. In stark difference to most of humanity’s history, emotions overtly govern our private, professional, and public lives[1]. In this and a few subsequent posts, I will explore the question of how, when, and why the shift from keeping emotions “under cover” towards today’s unembarrassed emocracy happened[2]. My first hypothesis is: The rise of emocracy was strongly favored by the invention and (later) popularization of psychology.

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Emocracy: An Exposition

Emotions rule our world. This in itself is not news. Ever since Cain slayed Abel, and ever since Zeus fell in love with Europe, human behaviors have been driven by aggression, passion, and all their cousins. But in the last years, something has shifted: In the past, quite regardless of culture and environment, human beings mostly saw emotions as  something unruly that had to be contained. In the very recent present, however, emotions have taken center stage in our personal, professional, and public lives. We live in an age of emocracy – but without ever having explicitly agreed on its constitution, principles, laws, and practices. This is a problem[1].

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niemand ist das problem

Egal, was passiert: Die Schuld bekommen dieser Tage immer einzelne Menschen. Der Fußballbundestrainer soll zurücktreten, weil die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft (inklusive Tross) in den Vorrundenspielen mies gespielt hat. “Das Drama der Angela Merkel” titelt selbst die meist abgewogene Zeitung DIE ZEIT in dieser Woche – und reduziert die komplexe Frage der zukünftigen Regelung von Zuwanderung nach Europa auf eine persönliche Machtkrise der Kanzlerin.

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am beckenrand

In diesem Jahr war ich zum zweiten Mal in meinem Leben auf der re:publica. Im letzten Jahr war ich zum ersten Mal dort, und im Jahr davor habe ich einige Vorträge über den Livestream verfolgt. Einerseits ist diese späte Bekanntschaft nicht überraschend: Ich mache nichts “mit Medien”[1], und ich habe erst seit Mai 2013 einen aktiven Twitteraccount[2]. Andererseits wundert es mich oft, wie spät ich die re:publica und ihre Netzgemeinde auf Twitter entdeckt habe.

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you can go now

So, you’re saying you want to go? I hear you – but wait. If you were a person, I’d write you a letter with a real pen, in real ink and on a real piece of paper. And I’d ask you to at least read it through to the end and listen to what I have to say before you go. However, I suspect that you’re not a person,

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