Only a small number of people participated in the flames
The “Bite Terrorism Incident” in which a convenience store clerk posted a photo of himself lying on an ice cream case on a social networking site (’13), the “Gay Affair” by celebrity Becky (’16) The “multi-purpose toilet affair” of comedian Ken Watanabe (’20), and the “raw daughter shabu-zuked comment” by a Yoshinoya board member in April of this year: …….
With the advent of smartphones and the development of social media, “online flame wars” are increasing every year. According to a survey by a research institute, there were a total of 1,766 cases of flames in ’21. By simple calculation, this means that as many as four to five flare-ups occur per day.
Everyone living in today’s society sees Internet flare-ups of various sizes on a daily basis, but have you ever asked yourself this simple question? I know there are flames, but I have never seen anyone around me actively posting on the Internet. I wonder what kind of people are participating in the flames.
Researchers from various fields around the world, including social psychology, engineering, economics, and marketing, are analyzing social networking sites. There has been a considerable increase in the number of articles published in prestigious American economic journals, and of course, people from various fields are involved in research in Japan as well.
Associate Professor Shinichi Yamaguchi of the Center for Global Communications at the International University of Japan says so. He is the first person in Japan to clarify the true nature of flaming using empirical data, and is a leading authority on “flame research.
How many people participate in flames? To answer this question, Yamaguchi conducted a survey of approximately 20,000 people in 2002 and 40,000 people in 2004, for a total of 60,000 people. The results revealed a shocking fact.
Only 1.1% of Internet users had written at least once during the entire past period, and when this was further narrowed down to the past year, i.e., “active flame participants,” the percentage was only 0.5%” (Mr. Yamaguchi, same below).
This is illustrated in Figure 1 below. Figures (2) and (3) show a more detailed breakdown of the 0.5% of the participants in flame wars.
Those who write on 11 or more flames in a year account for 10% of the flame participants; since they are 10% of the 0.5%, they represent 0.05% of the total. On the other hand, 3% of the respondents wrote in 51 or more times per flame. That is 0.015% of the total.
What is important to note here is that the total number of times that ‘heavy participants’ who wrote 51 times or more wrote more than ‘light participants’ who wrote 3 times or less per flaming incident. This means that only a small number of people are participating in the flames in the first place, and an even smaller fraction of those people are the main players in the flames.”
Who is doing the flaming?
It is now clear how many people are participating in the flames. Now let’s continue to look at who is participating.
Figure 4 below compares the titles of those who do not participate in flaming and those who do. Only 18% of those who do not participate in flames, i.e., the majority of society, are “chief/section chief class or above. On the other hand, among those who do participate in flaming, a whopping 31% are “chief/section chiefs and above.
This means that only about 0.86% of those at or above the chief/section chief level participate in flame wars, or one person in 120. When you think of your bosses, you probably have at least one who is extremely aggressive and often criticizes others. It is likely that such a person is violent both in real life and on the Internet.
In addition to titles, annual income is also a factor. Figure 5 shows the average annual household income of those who participated in flame wars and those who did not. The average annual household income of flame participants is 6.7 million yen, while that of those who did not participate in the flames is 5.9 million yen. In other words, flame participants are more “affluent.
The “single, poorly educated, and hirsute Internet heavy users who spend all day writing in front of their computers ……. Many people may have had such an image of flame war participants. In reality, however, people of somewhat higher social status and a bit wealthier are more likely to write on flames. Flames are not caused by people somewhere far away, but by ‘slightly troublesome bosses’ who seem to be close at hand.”
So we know who is causing the flames. Then, “why” do they write?
Yamaguchi has been involved in five “flame incidents” that have crossed the border, including an incident in which a convenience store clerk went up in flames after lying on an ice cream case in a store in 2001, the “Kenjiro Sano Pakuuri Incident” (2003), in which the Tokyo Olympics emblem design was suspected of plagiarism, and “Becky’s affair. The study also clarifies the motives of the participants in the flames.
The most common reasons given for writing in the “Ice Case Flame Incident” were “I couldn’t forgive” (51%) and “Because I was disappointed” (19%). In other words, a total of 70% of the respondents participated in the flames out of a sense of justice. On the other hand, only 9% of the respondents were flighty “because I felt I should join in,” and only 22% enjoyed the flames “because it was fun” or “because it relieves stress. This trend was also observed in other flaming incidents. We also found that these righteous types tend to write more posts per flaming incident.”
How to Avoid Flaming
When these results are combined with the aforementioned attributes, such as “chief/section chief or above” and “high household income,” the structure of flaming can be seen, according to the survey.
People with these attributes often have a certain degree of knowledge and firm convictions on various issues, such as politics and gender. They are also highly sensitive to information. Such people are quick to criticize those who have different views from their own. That is the true nature of flame wars.
In today’s world of social networking, it is easy for anyone to participate in flame wars. IT journalist Hiroshi Mikami asks what is needed to prevent flaming.
It is important to take a pause before posting something. Even if you feel that something is ‘unforgivable,’ there are many cases in which you can see that it is not true if you calm down. It is also important to realize that there is no such thing as anonymity on the Internet. The Provider Liability Limitation Law has been amended to make it easier to request disclosure of information. Penalties related to flame wars have also been strengthened, such as the enforcement of the revised Penal Code, which includes stricter penalties for insult. You should know that if you write something easily, you may find yourself in a lot of trouble.”
Ultimately, if you are considerate of others and look at things dispassionately, flaming will not occur. Knowing the “true nature” of flame wars, it is a good idea to reconsider how to deal with social media.
From the July 29 and August 5, 2022 issues of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Kyodo (Yoshinoya, Shugakukan) Aida Sono (Watanabe) Reuters (Mr. and Mrs. Komuro)