Moulding of Human Thought by Facebook

Udeni Perera

There is no doubt that you might have seen countless incidences where some humans thought to themselves that their own race and culture is better or more valuable than that of their neighbour’s. They even go so far as to think that any race other than theirs is inferior. Let us identify this as a Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism. Anthropologists first coined this term to determine whether the lifestyle of a person is natural or correct. 

However, as time went on, this term was converted to a culturally negative term by various experts. Hence, this term describes those who think that their culture is the only perfect culture whereas any other culture is inferior. If someone states that their race and culture is superior and correct while any other race or culture is minor or inferior, the term Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism can be used. According to Boasian Anthropology, Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism counters the very beliefs of anthropology. Hence, Anthropology rejects Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism.

Social media has taken over the lifestyles of today’s individuals. Facebook is used to receive all information, gossip, ideas, to share one’s opinions, etc… Through this, we can see the swift spread of Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism. We can see ample examples on Facebook of statements made against a certain race, statements that might disturb the peace of the country, statements that either make a certain area superior or inferior, or even statements made to make certain individuals or communities deeply uncomfortable. Among these statements, the opinions about the superiority of the Southern Province which has become a trend for some time is foremost in being a great example of Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism. We can clearly observe Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism where those living and/or were born in the South consider themselves to be superior to those born anywhere else. 

Yet another example of Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism is the discrimination seen on Facebook against the Muslim communities in the light of the 2019 Easter Sunday Bombings and even the more recent COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, various statements made on Facebook also clearly show hatred being formed within the minds of the group of individuals who consider themselves superior to any other. While publishing such statements create unnecessary negativity in the minds of individuals on a short term or long-term basis, the very real possibility of these racist thoughts developing into physical actions also exist. We can also see Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism in the form of various clashes that can be seen from time to time. A good example of this are the actions that took place against certain communities in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday Attacks. 

Human Centric Thinking/Cultural Relativism is born out of the freedom of speech seen in social media sites such as Facebook. However, we – as citizens who live in one country, under one flag, united under one law – must reject this notion.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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