The tweet may have come off naïve considering the current context of Myanmar and the genocidal persecution of the ethnic Rohingya there, but I found a bigger issue in the responsive comments and articles that followed. Some twitterers twisted Dorsey’s enjoyment of the country to say he must be “happy” that the Rohingya are being killed, and some bitingly asked how many dead bodies he had to step over. But many of the opinions tossed out by these reactive people hint that their perspectives are based on limited knowledge. Perhaps they intended to present good conscience, but the reality is that their less-than-280-character tweets are far removed from the actual issues.
This kind of blowback highlights a much bigger media and social media problem that we are all complicit in—one where it’s easy to make blanket statements about people instead of creating safe spaces for constructive dialogue and conflict resolution. The world is getting increasingly complex and moving toward a dynamical system where beliefs, feelings, actions, and norms change and evolve into a pattern based on interactions with one another over time. This includes patterns of polarization.
Consider the following two posts on Dorsey—the first from a U.S. citizen and the second from a Myanmar one—and how they illustrate the perpetuation of an in-group/out-group dynamic, or “othering” of each other: