Why Critics Have a Longer Life on the Internet

We have all seen it in some social network. Someone posts a positive comment and gets a few messages and some answers in terms of engagement. Maybe some I like or some other button that allows to respond quickly.

Someone publishes, however, a criticism, a negative comment or an accusation about a situation and the answers grow and grow. Suddenly, there is a long list of opinions and comments, a high number of quick engagement responses and possibly conversations that are generated over the original conversation. The message has been viralized and its effects have been much longer and much longer lasting.

Why does this happen? What is it that makes the negative and critical messages have a more enthusiastic response and also that their ‘useful’ life, so to speak, is much longer? In a way, and as any responsible for social networks and media could tell, negative and critical content tend to have a more polarized response and are therefore almost a kind of safe click.

Even those who do not have a clear opinion on a topic want to know why someone has such a negative view of what it is. You could say that people love gossip and love criticizing things, something that is transferred from offline to online.

But this is not the only pattern of behavior seen in online reviews. Things not only achieve an enthusiastic reaction but also, in a way, seem to have a longer life. The pull of criticism and its responses seems to last longer. And that is the question on which it seems more complicated to find an explanation.

What the experts have discovered

A study has analyzed the effect of negative comments and their survival. “It’s not just that the negative conversations have a long life,” explains one of the co-authors of the study, “but it has a longer effect on the original speaker.” That is, the negative comments not only generate ‘bad roll’ but also makes the person who has issued the comment is affected by it more time.

The effects could be seen in the comments that are published on Facebook and Twitter. Positive and ‘good’ contents manage to resonate for a few seconds, while negative comments do so for minutes. That is the time that its effects persist in the conversations that follow it.

But, even, the life and effects of those comments can be much more lasting than a few simple minutes. As they demonstrated by analyzing the conversations that millions of children have all over the world in a social online game, positive messages have an effect on who sends them in a few minutes. The effects start two seconds after launching the message and continue for one minute.

If the message is negative, the conversation focuses on it for an average of eight minutes. And not only that: negative comments often create what analysts call feedback loop, in which a negative comment generates a flow of negative comments that feed back and perpetuate themselves.

In adults, its worse

The conclusions of this study not only launch an alert about what happens when children talk on social networks and launch negative comments, but it is also a warning to surfers for older surfers.

Adults tend to have much more intense and complex reactions in terms of online responses and comments, especially if they touch on topics that are emotional for them or that touch their political opinions. Therefore, the patterns that the researchers detected about the effects of negative comments and their survival can be much stronger and can have a much higher impact.