Social Media and the effects of misinterpretation


Have you ever heard of the telephone game? Many of us have played the game when we were young. The rules of the telephone game are straightforward: Three or more players are gathered. There is a single, non-repeatable word or phrase that the player who starts the game thinks up and whispers into the following player’s ear. The next participant hears the word or phrase that the listener is trying to accurately repeat. The last person in the line or at the end of the circle repeats the phrase or word aloud, and usually, the phrase is repeated incorrectly.

The game helps players to concentrate fully while paying close attention to the information to avoid mishearing it. This might be crucial in real life because you should want to be informed and make sure the other person actually feels heard. Social Media is the modern version of a bad game of telephone. With how easily information can be misinterpreted, manipulated, and twisted. Something small and insignificant  can lead to millions of people around the world having a false view on a certain topic, or in a most recent case, people.

The case I’m speaking of is that of Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is an American professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (you know it as the NBA). Recently, he has been through a career altering controversy regarding a documentary film that he reposted on Twitter which is known to contains antisemitic content. The documentary is called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America”. The documentary contains Holocaust denial,  lies about Jewish people, bizarre prophecies perscribed by the director and author Ronald Dalton Jr. The president of the NBA player’s union CJ McCollum, has backed Irving saying “I don’t think he understood the magnitude of the movie, because he didn’t watch it. ”  Irregarless, Social media took hold of the narrative, and due to Irving’s actions, he was suspended for a total of five games, and Nike has cut ties with him.

The film is available on Amazon Prime for a $12 rental fee. Supporters of Irving, see fault with Amazon  for having the documentary on their platform in the first place. If the documentary was considered antisemitic, shouldn’t Amazon be receiving  backlash  along with Irving?  If the documentary was never on Amazon, maybe Irving would have never been in an antisemitic discussion.

Yet, there is another side of the argument that believe Irving purposely knew that the documentary was antisemitic and he posted the film because he truly hated Jews. This situation has caused a division amongst the population on social media, and has held the public back from finding the real problem: Who should we really be holding accountable?

The Social Media game is here to stay. For better of for worse. I think we can all agree will there is some better, there is far more worse. Think back to the spread of misinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic,  people were isolated, and the rise is Social media usage jumped across all demographics. As the pandemic drew on, covid related conspiracy theories took over. Then add divided politics into the mix and you get all kinds of Social Media rumors. Stretching fact to fiction is a matter of days.

Social media does a terrible job regulating its users when it comes to disinformation. The theories why are for another day.  It’s clear there is money behind it all. Why would Elon Musk spend $40+ billion US dollars on Twitter?

When we allow for misinformation on the internet, we then create confusion amongst the general population. How do we change it. How do we act more responsibly for what we post and repost online? What happened to Kyrie Irving could happen to any of us? And once it is out there, it never goes away.