The Butterfly Effect in Social Media

President John F Kennedy had severe back pain problems since his childhood and had undergone some major surgery and treatment for the same. 

An injury during a football match in his college days made a severe impact on his condition which eventually led him wearing back braces.

The day JFK was shot he was hit by two bullets, the first one in his neck which probably he could have survived but the back braces made him sit straight instead of falling on the floor of the car leading the second bullet to hit his head which killed him on the spot.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive of Austro-Hungarian throne was the main catalyst to start of World War I as Austria & Hungary declared war on Serbia. 

A little known fact was that a Bosnian Serb student Gavrilo Princip with his two associates went to Sarajevo to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand which they missed leading to the blast of a car behind Archduke. After that initial blast the route was supposed to be changed but Archduke’s driver didn’t get the message on time and went through the same route. Princip, who was waiting on the same route got his second chance and shot Archduke from close range leading to his killing.

 As per historical evidence Adolf Hitler was interested in art and painting and applied to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna which got rejected twice, possibly by a Jewish professor. Had he taken up arts, possibly one of the most infamous evils of history could have been saved.

Had Kennedy not had the back surgery and the back braces he could have survived the second shot, had the driver of Archduke got the message on time and changed his route, probably World War II could have been avoided, had Hitler got admission to the Fine Arts academy in Vienna, probably the new age most evil was not created and mass killings of Jews in World War II was avoided.

Above are a few of the famous Butterfly Effects known from history.

A butterfly flaps its wings in some part of the world and starts a chain of nonlinear effects that can result in a hurricane striking anywhere on the planet.

Benjamin Franklin offered a poetic perspective much before the concept of Butterfly Effect was coined.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For want of a horse the rider was lost,

For want of a rider the battle was lost,

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Today as most of us practically live in the virtual world of social media, any single post, tweet, share or forward by a single individual may lead to much bigger effect or impact in any part of the world. In the last one decade we have seen how media influencers are creating narratives sitting in one part of the world in their own cozy cocoon which are leading to massive turbulence elsewhere. Not just for political games but unknowingly this also affects our mind and emotions. 

How do we feel when we see our friends, relatives or colleagues who have moved to other countries for a better life and are seemingly much more successful, happier and wealthier? Doesn’t it affect in some way the peace of our minds by starting to compare our lives and situations with theirs? How do we feel when we find people declaring their professional achievements on professional sites like LinkedIn while we feel we are just common people doing our routine tasks within our work jurisdictions? We would never know the other person’s reality but would assume a lot of things by their one post or share. Though someone may argue that seeing someone’s success stories or happiness status should give positive vibes challenging ourselves also to achieve something in our lives, but typically as the creators of social media platforms themselves narrate that the algorithms of social media is based on picking up negativity so as to keep human minds entranced with the same.

The documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix in 2020 is an eye opener on how social media’s design nurtures addiction leading to manipulation of people’s views, emotions and behaviour.

Cases like adolescents getting into depression by mere comparing his/her beauty with someone, leading to suicide are just one of examples. Getting killed in competition to have selfies from some of the odd locations or situations to get more likes and comments have also come up in the limelight in recent years.

I find a single flap by a casual comment or post on social media surely is leading to a chain of nonlinear tsunami of emotions and physical actions elsewhere. It would be completely impractical to assume getting away from social media for sure. Least one can do is, next time a comment is written or a sharing of someone else’s post is done, let’s remind ourselves of the possible butterfly effect it may cause to someone, somewhere. Also, to remind ourselves not everything that’s seen or heard are true as it seems to be. Author. 

Debjit Dey

Debjit Dey is currently working as the Head of Procurement and Subcontracts in the oil and gas industry. Debjit is a mechanical engineer with an MBA in materials management by profession, has amateur hands in art and music, loves cooking and travelling, and loves motorcycle riding.

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