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Human-scale Model Removes Social Toxicity

According to Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert, most of the toxicity of modern social platforms comes from their asymmetric nature. These asymmetries come from the emphasis on one-to-many information dissemination, and establish somewhat hierarchical relationships. There are followers, and influences, there are opinion-makers, and there are opinion-sharers. Here, a small minority of “popular people” have the loudest voice1.

The contrary to the asymmetric social media are human-scale platforms such as chat rooms, forums. The main difference is in the scale of communication, which is closer to the real-world. There, a user engages with a small group of people max2.

If asymmetric scale induces toxic, near-tribal behaviours, making it back to human-scale will probably inhibit such behaviours. After all, when being a part of a huge crowd, a person feels more secure (to behave immorally), seemingly gains more anonymity (which possibly allows behaving outside the “agreeable scope”)3.

“Non-human-scale” consequently induces not only toxic behaviours, but also discourages relation to each other, discourages connection, empathy, compassion. While “human-scale” does the exact opposite. After all, “What doesn’t scale is our ability to relate to each other as human beings instead of target markets, as eyeballs to monetise”, as Michael Honey concluded4.

The symmetric-asymmetric scales, or — rather “human-scale model” — can be used for modelling in different contexts, outside social media field. Such as the “human-scale” model can be applied to the discussions on antifragility (as in complex systems fail5), and for building projects in culture that do not need to be huge by default. Or, it can be used when designing yet another media-project — like a podcast, or a zine.

In this sense, a “human-scale” is expected to have its scalability limitations — the contrary to what most of modern projects are expected to be (growth at all costs). Consequently, its scalability is limited in terms of its “population” (f. ex, a number of users), as well as a level of parallelism (if many things should be done simultaneously).

It is important though to be mindful of the contextuality. The actual “scale” part in the “human-scale” model is intrinsically contextual, depending on the field of application.

Footnotes

  1. Chevalier-Boisvert, Maxime. “Human-Scale vs Asymmetric Social Media]].” Pointers Gone Wild (blog), n.d. https://pointersgonewild.com/2023/12/24/toxic-by-design-human-scale-vs-asymmetric-social-media.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Le Bon, Gustave. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. 2nd ed. Atlanta, Ga: Cherokee Publ. Comp, 1982.

  4. Honey, Michael. “Human Scale.” Offscreen (blog), n.d. https://www.offscreenmag.com/blog/human-scale.

  5. Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. 1. ed. New York, NY: Random House, 2012.