decontextualized viral content

The online world of instant and anonymous communication, memes, and hypertext have rendered language hyperreactive,” he wrote, “emboldening users to say things that would be unimaginable in an intimate setting, and eroding long-accepted standards of decency, civil discourse, and judgement.

That the internet has changed the way teenagers test boundaries is obvious. But it has also broadened the audience for these behaviors from small, isolated, and socially contextualized groups of bored students to an entire contextless media ecosystem that also encompasses the internationally resurgent, internet-savvy, and sometimes lethally violent white nationalist right. This is a space where intentions don’t matter, where one person’s bad joke is another’s propaganda.

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