What sorts of solutions will my upcoming book, “The Cogjam Effect,” have to offer? In other words, what can we as individuals do to contain polarizing and divisiveness when it appears in our midst? One such opportunity is management of social media posts.


For your reading enjoyment, here’s a story from Chapter 13 – “Healing the Herd”:

“I participate in several writers’ groups. Some of them stay in touch using social media. Like everyone else, we’ve dealt with the occasional interloper sneaking in from elsewhere, sniffing around for ways to stir up trouble.

One day some unknown individual posted a nasty rant in broken English. Its content aimed to stir one of the day’s major cogjam pots. With similar posts, I usually see a bunch of angry retorts or other defensive comments afterwards. But that was not the case for this one. Here’s the main gist of how my writer colleagues responded:

‘Rework plot. Not very original.’

‘Is it really worser, or should it be worserest?’

‘Um, put down the bottle, mate.’

‘Great hook. What happens next?’

‘I think aragance is how they spell it in Aragon.’

‘Be fair, you guys. Others in this group make errors in spelling and grammar.’

‘It’s spelled grammer.’

‘I think [account originator] put this here, just to keep us on our toes.’

‘Try turning [object of political rant] off, then on again. Works for my computer.’

‘His editor will need to be paid overtime.’

‘That poor guy will think twice before hacking into a writers group again.’

I have never been more proud of my fellow writers. Why? Let me count the ways:

  1. They didn’t let their gut brains be baited.
  2. They consulted logical brain options for a way to adaptively react to the intrusion.
  3. They introduced humor, a healthy coping strategy that also served as a distraction.
  4. Compassion dotted their responses, even if at times tongue in cheek.
  5. They didn’t let a new round of offensive material contribute to cogjam, or poison the atmosphere of the group.
  6. They turned a wad of toxicity into an opportunity for creativity, a growth moment.
  7. Without anybody directly spelling out what we were trying to do and how we were going about it, we joined together as one and steered clear of ill will.

What would social media feeds look like, if every group behaved this way? More to the point, what would happen with cogjam if we all placed greater priority on herd wellbeing than giving in to gut brain impulses?”

If you prefer this approach for dealing with unwelcome hostility, consider sharing this site with those in your own social media networks. Get those creative brains percolating! There are ways other than fight or flight for handling toxic comments.

Posts to come will offer additional suggestions for redirecting gut reactions toward healthier outcomes.

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