PETALING JAYA: Hate speech may come from a desire to change things from a safe distance, says Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.
“Leaving hateful comments makes one brazen enough to think they are part of the movement instigating social change, when it is not necessarily useful for all.
“While the role of social media must be acknowledged in mobilising netizens to be part of social change, it also means that now you can do it from a distance,” he said.
Dr Andrew added that hateful discussions created a vicious cycle of dehumanising others. He also said people were motivated to believe and spread untruths that conformed to previously held opinions.
“If you are motivated to believe negative things about a leader, you are more likely to trust outrageous stories that may not be true and may unwittingly spread these untruths through partisan political hatred,” he said.
According to him, social psychologist Adam Waytz called such a concept “motivated reasoning”.
Dr Andrew added that people tend to believe their perception of reality was the only accurate view, and that those who disagreed with them were irrational or biased.
“Moreover, we pursue such an agenda through hatred instead of reasoned discussion.
“Some of us like to think our political convictions correspond to a higher truth but in fact, we are misinformed,” he said, adding that people should look at the long-term interests of the nation rather than be consumed by short-term ideals.