It's About Time

It's About Time

If you are interested in social media and its influence on society, you will probably come across Jonathan Haidt’s “After Babel” article soon (if you have not already).

Similar to when The Social Dilemma came out, I see a lot of scholars offering critiques and counterarguments. And, as with The Social Dilemma, I find Haidt’s article extremely valuable despite its imperfections.

The whole piece is worth a read (the internet title may be the worst part), but I am especially excited about one concept in particular: time.

Haidt’s research expertise is in moral psychology, which may be one reason he pays attention to temporality. Experiments in this field show that people in a rush are more likely to do harm, while slow, calm environments cultivate thoughtfulness and helping behavior.

A popular narrative about social media puts the blame on harmful content/messages (misinformation, junk news, hate speech, etc.), but what if a bigger issue is its speed? This is part of the premise behind Daniel Susser’s “Decision Time” paper at FAccT 2022, and it is also a premise I hope to explore in my dissertation.