Social media has revolutionized the way we connect, share, and communicate. It has broken down geographical barriers, enabled global conversations, and given voices to millions. Human beings have adapted digital communications and social media as an integral part of society, perhaps unprecedented in their pervasiveness and impact. Yet, as humans have adapted to and adapted new technologies, we’ve come to realize that anything manmade suffers from the same shortcomings as humans themselves. Beneath the glittering veneer of social media lies a deeper, more troubling issue: implicit biases. In this blog post, we will explore the pervasive problem of implicit biases on social media, how they manifest, the consequences they carry, and how we can mitigate their effects in our video production and video storytelling.
Understanding Implicit Biases
Implicit biases, also known as unconscious or hidden biases, are the attitudes and stereotypes that subconsciously affect our perceptions, actions, and decisions. They are deeply ingrained and often emerge automatically, without our conscious awareness. These biases are not limited to a specific minority group but can apply to any marginalized or underrepresented community. Which is why explicitly targeting inclusive video production and diverse video production teams is so important!
Implicit biases are not the result of personal malice or hatred. They stem from social conditioning, cultural influences, and exposure to stereotypes over time. Falling victim to these biases doesn’t make someone a morally corrupt person, but rather collateral damage of greater shortcomings in our society. Still, these biases influence the way we perceive and interact with others, both online and offline.
Manifestations on Social Media
Stereotyping: One of the most common manifestations of implicit biases on social media is the perpetuation of stereotypes. Users may unknowingly share or comment on social media videos and content that reinforce existing stereotypes about different minority groups.
Microaggressions: Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional, acts or comments that convey discriminatory messages. Social media platforms are rife with microaggressions that may target a person’s race, ethnicity, or cultural background. These can be particularly harmful as often perpetrators are unaware of the effect their words have. However, these subtle slights aggregate over time and have the potential to reap a world of hurt for those who hear and internalize them.
Algorithmic Biases: Social media algorithms can inadvertently promote content that aligns with implicit biases. For example, they might prioritize content featuring people from certain backgrounds or sharing specific viewpoints, further reinforcing these biases.
Online Harassment: Implicit biases can fuel explicit online harassment and hate speech directed at individuals based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, cultural background, or really any perceived or latent differences within ourselves. Such behavior can be deeply hurtful and psychologically damaging.
Consequences of Implicit Biases on Social Media
Perpetuation of Inequality: Implicit biases, when left unaddressed, perpetuate systemic inequalities. They maintain existing power imbalances and hinder progress toward a more inclusive and balanced society.
Polarization: Social media platforms can amplify existing biases and contribute to polarization, as people become exposed to more extreme viewpoints that align with their biases.
Psychological Harm: Individuals who experience discrimination, stereotyping, or microaggressions on social media can suffer significant psychological harm – leading to stress, anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, and/or other harmful health effects.
Impaired Dialogue: Implicit biases can stifle productive conversations about race and ethnicity. These biases can prevent people from empathizing with others’ experiences and engaging in meaningful discussions.
Addressing Implicit Biases on Social Media
Self-awareness: The first step in addressing implicit biases is to acknowledge their existence. Individuals must reflect on their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and consider how they may be influenced by hidden biases. It’s so important that those of us who use social media make a conscious effort to engage with culturally sensitive and diversity-driven video content.
Education: Social media users should educate themselves about different minority groups to challenge and dismantle stereotypes. Consider reading up on empowering video storytelling and how you can support inclusive storytelling through video.
Reporting and Moderation: Social media platforms should have robust reporting and moderation mechanisms to identify and address content that perpetuates biases or promotes hate speech. Do your part and report harmful posts!
Diverse Representation: Platforms can actively promote diverse voices, ensuring that content from a variety of backgrounds is featured and celebrated. At Luminous, we prioritize platforming underrepresented voices in video, multicultural video storytelling, and a diverse video production team to ensure that all of our productions combat, rather than reinforce, harmful implicit biases.
Algorithmic Fairness: Social media companies should strive to create algorithms that are unbiased and promote content that reflects the diversity of voices on their platforms. These algorithmic biases arise from the implicit biases within ourselves. Not only were these algorithms created by humans who suffer from their own implicit biases, they also learn from our browsing patterns and can sink even further into the murky waters of implicit biases. The more inclusive video productions and content we create, the more we can act to counterbalance these biases.
Implicit biases on social media are a pressing issue that affects individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Recognizing the presence of these biases is the first step toward mitigating their impact and creating a more inclusive online environment. By educating ourselves, advocating for change on social media platforms, and engaging in open and honest conversations about race, we can work toward a more equitable and harmonious digital world. It is up to all of us to foster positive change in this virtual space, so it can reflect the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
BY: LEAH RITTERBAND