North Luzon Monitor

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To bash or not to bash

JP Villanueva
Latest posts by JP Villanueva (see all)

The newest controversy involving “It’s Showtime” is about their guests in their segment, “Especially For You” several days back.  A male searchee was seen trying to kiss the female searcher which the main host, Vice Ganda called out, saying that he may be sued for that gesture that he made. It really did look like the male searchee wanted to give a kiss. I was watching that episode live.

Vice Ganda, among the other hosts, was bashed for making that statement and was demanded to issue a public apology. To add insult to injury, there were videos that came out comparing reactions of female searcher based on the physical features of the searchers, “Pag gwapo, kinikilig. Pag pangit, demanda agad” or something to that effect.

The male searchee later on clarified that the gesture was not for a kiss but for a bros shoulder bump. In the meantime, the female searcher published a TikTok video also clarifying that she did not feel uncomfortable with the gesture. After which, Vice Ganda issued a statement taking back his intention of issuing an apology. Netizens bashed not only Vice Ganda, but also the male searchee and even the female searchee. 

Sadly, this is not the first time that this kind of bashing happened. It happens everyday, both for famous and ordinary people alike. Bashing has become very normal in social media. It is ignored, tolerated to a certain sinful degree. It got me thinking, why is such destructive behavior so enticing for many netizens to do?

Bashing on social media can be understood through several economic theories.

Public Goods and Free Rider Problem. Social media platforms can be seen as public goods where everyone has access to content and the ability to contribute. However, the free rider problem arises when individuals benefit from the content without contributing positively. Instead, they may engage in negative behaviors like bashing, as the cost to them is minimal (e.g., anonymity, lack of immediate consequences), but the potential payoff in terms of social recognition or venting personal frustrations can be significant.

Game Theory and Nash Equilibrium. In the context of social media, game theory can explain how individuals interact strategically. If bashing becomes a common behavior, individuals might engage in it as a rational response to the prevailing environment. This creates a Nash Equilibrium where no one has an incentive to deviate from bashing because everyone else is doing it. The perceived benefit (e.g., likes, attention) outweighs the potential negative repercussions.

Signaling Theory. Bashing can be a form of signaling. Individuals might bash others to signal their own social status, intelligence, or allegiance to a particular group or ideology. This is especially prevalent in polarized environments where strong, negative opinions can bolster one’s standing within a group.

Behavioral Economics and Prospect Theory. Prospect theory suggests that people are more sensitive to potential losses than equivalent gains. On social media, individuals might engage in bashing to avoid a perceived loss of social status or to counteract a negative comment made against them. The anonymity and distance provided by social media amplify these behaviors, as the emotional response to negative content can be more immediate and visceral.

Network Effects and Herd Behavior. Social media platforms exhibit network effects where the value of the platform increases with the number of users. Herd behavior can lead to bashing as individuals follow the actions of others. If bashing becomes a trend, more users might join in, perpetuating the cycle due to the desire to conform or the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Economic Incentives of Platforms. Social media platforms often operate on advertising revenue, which is driven by user engagement. Controversial content, including bashing, tends to drive higher engagement (more comments, shares, likes), which can increase ad revenue. This creates an economic incentive for platforms to allow or even indirectly encourage such behavior.

Bashing on social media can be understood through a combination of economic incentives, psychological behaviors, and strategic interactions. The interplay of these factors creates an environment where bashing is not only common but also reinforced by the structures of social media platforms and human behavioral tendencies. 

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