Promotes social media indignation cultures

Why McDonald's is campaigning for better manners on the social web

According to! Volume up! Right-wing! Anyone who follows debates on social media in order to gain factual knowledge with regard to their own opinion-forming can quickly get into a crisis. While provocative escalation used to be a more or less fine stylistic device of the classic media to draw readers into a text or article, today this is potentiated as a club the normal pace of many users on social media. In doing so, many cross the fine line between escalation and personal insult or even defamation - and that quickly while half asleep before the early morning cleansing ritual.


Many feel called to express their opinion publicly to everything and everyone. Social media has become the regulars of the modern era, 24/7 from January to December. However, nobody has to look each other in the eye. And what is missing is the resolute landlady who, when the discussions are too intense, simply takes those involved out into the fresh air. This would often be urgently needed.

McDonald's fights prejudice with celebrities and employees

Often a hashtag is enough on social media to get a point across. But you can also pigeonhole people in this way. McDonald's now wants to tackle it.

If others do not share their own opinion, they quickly become # assholes # stupid talkers # left-handed or #nazi. It doesn't matter, the main thing is that your own pulse gets a valve. And even if it is not an insult that is blown into the air, the aggressive absolutism with which some appear is questionable in any case. No recognition of a different point of view, let alone the attempt to take this seems possible. Instead, a culture of indignation is cultivated in which one likes to incite one another. On Twitter in particular, an extremely ironic, condescending tone is cultivated, which apparently many users nowadays see as confirmation of intellectuality. Often, however, this is simply insulting and marginalizing.

McDonald's: #More than his hashtag

One can of course argue that the digital possibilities of debating on social media - everyone with everyone and perceptible for everyone - are incredibly valuable platforms for the freedom of expression enshrined in the Basic Law. In theory, that's the way it is. In the past, Ralf H. from Hamburg and Peter M. from Bayreuth couldn't just exchange ideas so openly and directly about a political issue. But somehow we have so far missed using this opportunity to promote democracy instead of undermining it.

There is no other explanation for the fact that, of all places, at a time when technology has limitless possibilities in conducting debates, more and more people are of the opinion that we have no real freedom of expression. Many people have mocked this on social media and harshly condemned celebrities such as ex-professional handball player Stefan Kretzschmar, who publicly expressed this view. But it is worth thinking about, because many do not doubt the constitutionally enshrined freedom of expression. Rather, it seems to be precisely about this (un) culture of debate, which has prevailed above all in social media and is now also shaping discussions in the real world.

Who wants to be put down "publicly" for their opinion, in the worst case even under threat of violence. While many politicians have hardened themselves through years of training in the debate circus, it is not so easy for the common man to deal with the rough wind. In the end, many turn away, remain silent and, in the worst case, feel anger and frustration because they feel that their own point of view does not get a soundboard. In this respect it is almost bizarre: on the one hand, opinion is expressed extremely and loudly, on the other hand it is suppressed to the limit of pain. If you now consider what that does to people, the last election results, in which the extreme fringes emerged as winners, seem almost a logical consequence.

So what to do Switching off the internet and social media is obviously not possible. You don't have to. But redefining the culture of debate in the face of modern possibilities would be a start. Many principles are still valid and may just have to be translated again. That pigeonhole thinking does not contribute to mutual understanding, for example, is not new and is still correct. But maybe drawers look different today? Perhaps, when hashtags are used in a debate, they are a new kind of drawer. Because their use is not about range or identification, but often also about a mocking classification. #nurmalso is a good example. The use of this hashtag turns a factually expressed fact into a derogatory reply that is quickly perceived as arrogant on the other side. The chance for a respectful exchange is over.

The same or even worse happens of course with hashtags that contain direct insults. The stylistic device should therefore be used with caution. And it is precisely this sensitivity that we have to relearn if we want to get ourselves and our culture of debate back on their feet.

In the end, good debates live from being tough on the matter but fair in their dealings. Often the key to success is recognizing that the person opposite is made up of many different facets that have shaped the opinion expressed. And in the rarest of cases it is absolute. Because if you manage to add one point of view on the other side, your opinion may change again. But you can only do that if everyone allows themselves space for different perspectives. Everyone is more than just an opinion. Or to put it in social media jargon: everyone is #more than one hashtag.