This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.
Have you ever said something and then, moments later, cringed with shame as you replayed it in your mind? If so, you’ll know the sort of feeling I had a couple weeks ago.
I was talking with an expert on social media polarization who was not a Christian. She made an insightful and compelling case about why so much radical, crazy content gets traction, including within the church.
The algorithms recognize, she said, how emotions work. Emotions like affection, wonder, and curiosity don’t prompt people to linger on posts—much less to spread them. But anger and fear do.
When I asked, “So how is this fixed?” she predicted that things will get worse and worse because “What can you do about the reptilian brain?” I nodded sadly and said, “I know.”
Her point was that social media technology exploits the part of fallen human psychology—what she would call “the lizard brain” or the “reptilian…