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November 16, 2021 3:36 pm

Jewish Author David Baddiel Explores ‘Darker Side’ of Social Media in Upcoming BBC Documentary

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

David Baddiel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jewish author and comedian David Baddiel will explore the effects of social media on human behavior, both on and offline, in an upcoming documentary for BBC Two, the British television network announced on Monday.

In “David Baddiel: Social Media, Anger and Us,” the self-proclaimed Twitter addict and author of “Jews Don’t Count” takes a close look at the “darker side” of how people interact online, “where outrage and angry exchanges frequently dominate,” BBC Two said in a statement.

“This negativity is spilling off line and into real life,” the statement continued. “In this film [Baddiel will] be asking whether something originally designed to help us talk to each other leads to everyone shouting at each other.”

The film, expected to be released on Dec. 13, examines Baddiel’s own social media behavior and the hateful tweets he has received. He tries to understand how his brain responds to angry messages by undergoing an MRI scan, and later takes a break from social media to see how stepping away from online platforms changes his behavior and mindset.

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Baddiel also talks to avid social media users, writers, and experts, and tries to decipher whether “cancel culture” is a “new type of mass democracy or just mob rule.” He interviews social media users who have been targeted by online trolls, including one TikTok account holder whose house was set on fire, and investigates the use of fake accounts and bots to spread misinformation.

“David Bowie, in 1999, said, of the internet, ‘this will change everything.’ As ever, Bowie was a prophet,” said Baddiel. “Because what seems like just a means of communication has completely changed how we communicate. Social media in particular, seems to have raised the temperature of every type of utterance. I’m hoping this film will add to the understanding of all this and not the anger. But I’m still expecting to be shouted at online about it, of course.”

The BBC’s commissioning editor of documentaries, Emma Loach, said, “David’s considerate and clever movie is well timed and pressing. It explores the optimistic, destructive and sophisticated sides to our online and offline selves and assesses the effect social media is having on all of our lives.”

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