feedback loops used to bully people

English translation: self-reinforcing processes which are used to attack / insult / humiliate people

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:feedback loops used to bully people
English translation:self-reinforcing processes which are used to attack / insult / humiliate people
Entered by: Charles Davis
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10:23 Jul 13, 2018
English to English translations [PRO]
General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
English term or phrase: feedback loops used to bully people
Hello everyone,

From the book Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman.

When you see how fast attitudes toward lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people have changed in just five years, argued Marina Gorbis, executive director at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, “you have to believe it has something to do with so many young people being immersed in what is increasingly a global dialogue—often about values.” This system, she added, “amplifies everything that goes through it, so it creates feedback loops used to bully people, and it creates more points of interaction and many more opportunities for people who are homophobic to meet a gay person.

I think I know what "bully people" means (in school, some students often bully weaker ones), but what does "feedback loops used to bully people" mean?

Thank you.
klp
Local time: 15:26
self-reinforcing processes which are used to attack / insult / humiliate people
Explanation:
That is what it means, to my mind. I'll come to the contextual problem, the apparent contradiction, in a moment.

A feedbank loop is a familiar image. It doesn't refer to feedback in the sense of responses to what people say on forums as a two-way dialogue. It's a feedback loop: a process that is repeated, becoming stronger at each iteration, like a vicious circle:

"Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedback

People post aggressive comments, others react to them aggressively, and the aggression just keeps growing: each reaction reinforces the previous one.

"Use to bully people" is pretty clear and unambiguous. You know what "bully" means. But bear in mind that bullying at school is often, perhaps usually, a collective activity, in which people gang up on a weaker victim, or at least the bully is encouraged, egged on, by supporters. That's what happens on the Internet: trolls reinforce each other's aggression and bully a victim.

So what's going on? How can this be part of the process of people with homophobic tendencies learning to be more understanding of gay people?

I think the answer is that at this particular point that's simply not what she means. She's referring here to one effect, the negative effect, of the amplification that social networks notoriously produce. Many people see them as intrinsically negative; all we see in the press is reports of trolls persecuting people. She's acknowledging that this happens: verbal gay-bashing happens. But then she goes on to say that it's not all that happens. Social media also bring people into verbal contact with those they're prejudiced against: they converse, which probably wouldn't happen in the outside world. And that interaction, homophobes meeting gay people, maybe for the first time, can also show them that the reality doesn't always conform to their prejudices. If they engage in some sort of dialogue with gay people online, beyond the insults we keep hearing about, then they can begin to see them differently, realise they are basically no different from themselves.

Whether she's right about this or she's being over-idealistic is not the point; the point is that she's saying that the online world has, or could have, an upside as well as a downside, in terms of anti-gay prejudice.

So I think she's saying: the global dialogue of the Internet amplifies everything, for good as well as bad. It amplifies verbal bullying by a feedback loop process, but it also creates interaction which can lead to positive results.

The problem, really, is that she's not made it clear enough that she's talking about contrary phenomena. By saying "and it creates more points of interaction", she seems to imply that what follows is along the same lines as what she's just said. But I believe she means "and at the same time it creates...", in the sense of "and conversely it creates...": "and" really implying "but". If you read it like that there's no contradiction and it makes sense.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Grading comment
Many thanks to everyone.

Thank you, Charles.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +3self-reinforcing processes which are used to attack / insult / humiliate people
Charles Davis
4contradictory...
Yvonne Gallagher
3the increasingly global dialogue...
Sheri P


  

Answers


2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
the increasingly global dialogue...


Explanation:
creates more opportunities for people to receive feedback on their beliefs and attitudes, which pressures them to change more rapidly

I think the idea is that people feel more pressure to change when they have greater interaction with others (around the world), since they can more readily observe the effects of their beliefs and attitudes on others.

Sheri P
United States
Local time: 08:26
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 52
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
contradictory...


Explanation:
this appears to be contradictory.
On the face of it a "feedback loop" is simply that, a way for people to give feedback, or reactions to something posted online. And used in a bullying way. Like on Twitter/Facebook etc. where people troll/attack/bully others.

However, HERE the feedback loops appear to be a good thing as it is saying that the more interaction there is between people, e.g with the opportunity for homophobic people to actually meet gays, the more empathy there is.
That is, rather than bullying taking place, people can become more understanding. So, empathy rather than bullying is taking place.
Though an example is given a bit further on of a person being forced out of a taxi in San Francisco because the other passengers didn't appreciate his extreme attitude/views. So I suppose you could argue that person was "bullied" out of the taxi!
I read on further a bit more and it mentions that hate groups like neo-Nazis can get support from other like-minded people on social media so that would be an opposite instance where the feedback loop WOULD be about the opportunity to bully or attack others, not in the "group" (or "chapter" as it's called here) in a racist way.
Anyway, that why I think it's quite contradictory and difficult to understand the way it's written here.

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Note added at 2 hrs (2018-07-13 13:05:51 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Sheri's answer makes me think that "bully" could be a wrong word here and that they really mean pressure/pressurize

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2018-07-13 13:07:34 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

and here's the link to the passage
https://books.google.ie/books?id=MFptDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT163&lpg=P...

Yvonne Gallagher
Ireland
Local time: 13:26
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 436
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
self-reinforcing processes which are used to attack / insult / humiliate people


Explanation:
That is what it means, to my mind. I'll come to the contextual problem, the apparent contradiction, in a moment.

A feedbank loop is a familiar image. It doesn't refer to feedback in the sense of responses to what people say on forums as a two-way dialogue. It's a feedback loop: a process that is repeated, becoming stronger at each iteration, like a vicious circle:

"Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedback

People post aggressive comments, others react to them aggressively, and the aggression just keeps growing: each reaction reinforces the previous one.

"Use to bully people" is pretty clear and unambiguous. You know what "bully" means. But bear in mind that bullying at school is often, perhaps usually, a collective activity, in which people gang up on a weaker victim, or at least the bully is encouraged, egged on, by supporters. That's what happens on the Internet: trolls reinforce each other's aggression and bully a victim.

So what's going on? How can this be part of the process of people with homophobic tendencies learning to be more understanding of gay people?

I think the answer is that at this particular point that's simply not what she means. She's referring here to one effect, the negative effect, of the amplification that social networks notoriously produce. Many people see them as intrinsically negative; all we see in the press is reports of trolls persecuting people. She's acknowledging that this happens: verbal gay-bashing happens. But then she goes on to say that it's not all that happens. Social media also bring people into verbal contact with those they're prejudiced against: they converse, which probably wouldn't happen in the outside world. And that interaction, homophobes meeting gay people, maybe for the first time, can also show them that the reality doesn't always conform to their prejudices. If they engage in some sort of dialogue with gay people online, beyond the insults we keep hearing about, then they can begin to see them differently, realise they are basically no different from themselves.

Whether she's right about this or she's being over-idealistic is not the point; the point is that she's saying that the online world has, or could have, an upside as well as a downside, in terms of anti-gay prejudice.

So I think she's saying: the global dialogue of the Internet amplifies everything, for good as well as bad. It amplifies verbal bullying by a feedback loop process, but it also creates interaction which can lead to positive results.

The problem, really, is that she's not made it clear enough that she's talking about contrary phenomena. By saying "and it creates more points of interaction", she seems to imply that what follows is along the same lines as what she's just said. But I believe she means "and at the same time it creates...", in the sense of "and conversely it creates...": "and" really implying "but". If you read it like that there's no contradiction and it makes sense.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 556
Grading comment
Many thanks to everyone.

Thank you, Charles.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  philgoddard
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Phil

agree  JohnMcDove
12 hrs
  -> Muchas gracias, John :-) (Pero ¡cuánto rollo tiene este inglés!)

agree  Sheri P: Ah, yes, this is more plausible
13 hrs
  -> Many thanks, Sheri :-)
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