The speed with which images and ideologies travel gives a real advantage to negative opinions. Negative ideas travel faster than positive ideas. Violent images travel faster than any other images.
If Villepin is right, it would explain a lot about the 21st century so far, from accelerated polarization to the precipitous decline in civility in public life. Of course, what he perceives may merely reflect an objective decline in conditions around the world, the first cause of which is neither social media nor (more debateably) globalization. But if our impulsive, "hot take" online culture does exacerbate conditions, that raises an important question about media responsibility. Freedom of press and speech are cherished (in principle, at least) in the U.S. because they are considered essential to the informed deliberation on which republics depend. But if modern media tend to encourage "negative ideas" -- a lot obviously depends on how those are defined, and by whom -- at the expense of deliberation, does a principle of media regulation become necessary to ensure some balance of information, so that the hot take doesn't always prevail? Even if such a principle can be formulated, however, how can it be acted upon given how widely social media has been disseminated already? The easy answer to all these questions is to educate people to think before they react, or share a tweet, rather than try to control what they see or how they share it, as China does, but the danger is that the temptation of online immediacy can counteract the effects of education -- especially if young adults become convinced that their education has no point if it can't get them work. This challenge is like getting the genie back inside his proverbial bottle, or everything back inside Pandora's box. If that sounds hopelessly daunting, maybe we should ask how we can accelerate the speed of positive ideas, assuming that we can agree on what those are. Why are they so slow, anyway? Let me know how long it takes to answer that one.