Numbers > Number 19 > Hermeneutics of hate and crisis in digital communication around the figures of the Presidents of Mexico, Spain and the United States in the management of Covid-19
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ISSN: 1885-365X
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Hermeneutics of hate and crisis in digital communication around the figures of the Presidents of Mexico, Spain and the United States in the management of Covid-19

26 de junio de 2022
6 de julio de 2022


The objective of the research was to evaluate the impact of the tweets of the Presidents of Mexico, Spain and the United States on COVID-19 in relation to the scale of hate and the scale of values present in the comments issued by users with the purpose of explain the communication phenomenon that occurred on Twitter at the beginning of this health emergency. The analysis was carried out on all the tweets related to COVID-19 from the presidents of the indicated countries issued between March 15 and April 15, 2020 and a convenience sample (1%) of the followers’ comments. The hypotheses sought to verify if there was a relationship between the scale of hate shown in the comments and the user’s profile, as well as between the user’s profile and the scale of citizen values. Among the main findings, it stands out that there is no relationship between the user’s profile and the hate scale of their comments, nor in the scale of citizen values. There is little dialogue on this social network about the president’s communications related to the pandemic, because the conversation is redirected towards other topics in a positive or negative tone, particularly towards politics in the three countries and towards the economy in the case of the United States. Finally, the reasons for the hatred are hidden and go beyond the issue in question, since they are detonated around the presidential figure, showing the pre-existing affinity or disapproval.

1. Introduction: state of the art

It is a fact that hatred of others has been present throughout the history of humanity. Understanding the causes that originate the feeling of hatred is a topic that occupies different disciplines. Either as a constitutive drive of the human being or as an effect of original sin, it seems that hatred points to the being of the other. Otherness provokes reflection, but it also intrigues. For Emmanuel Levinas (1997), the otherness of the neighbor challenges the subject to communicate, to emit a word, the face of the other reveals the pre-original dimension of language as responsibility for the other. However, from another approach, otherness can also be considered as an image of the self, which is why it is seen as an enemy, as a threat to the image that the self has of itself; the imbalances that cause the intensity of hatred towards the being of the other, can even go so far as to overwhelm reason and direct its force towards the person himself, which would allow us to point out a self-destructive instance, such as the death drive, according to Freud (2014). On the other hand, the being of the other reveals a foreign condition, a being beyond totality. The racial focus is present in hate speech, the other is a minor, the difference in skin tones arouses contempt, insult, exclusion. In the Semitic culture, the face of the other is at the same time something other than being, a trace of the Infinite and for the same reason, it is presented in its extreme vulnerability, which consists in the assassination attempt (Levinas, 1991).

Generally in the fields of social sciences, the manifestations of hatred are studied in correlation with the context, culture, politics, economy and religions, with the intention of describing the structural part that corresponds to violence, to indifference social or lack of solidarity (Rorty, 1991). The social sciences, as Zigmunt Bauman (2004) points out, have been developed with the idea of providing knowledge about the regularities of society’s behavior. This would allow the authority in principle to have the effective possibility of intervening on the social causes that originate a generalized state of war. It is about the project that begins with Hobbes, who proposes the organization of a civil society based on knowledge of the causes that unleash the war, such as scarcity of resources, pride, competition or rivalry (Hobbes, 1994).

In classical philosophy, hatred is understood as a manifestation of evil, which is explained as deprivation of good, «evil is not something but rather the deprivation of some particular good» (De Aquino, 2015, p. 27). For Thomas Aquinas, evil is not something because it is the opposite of what is desirable, and only what is desirable is an entity. «Evil, which is universally contrary to good, is also contrary to being, and what is contrary to being cannot be something real» (De Aquino, 2015, p. 28). Now, due to his essential constitution, man participates in the supreme being, he does not possess being by essence, therefore his possibility of deliberating and acting evil. The evangelical commandment to love your neighbor makes sense from the anthropological perspective that defends the ability to self-determine the person who is free, and as such, can deliberate on the good and evil of their actions (Wojtyla, 2014). Evil can be uttered, saying a curse is wishing evil on your neighbor or the community. The commandment to love your neighbor implies the good desire to speak, the good saying, the good communication, the very telling of the truth of being (Del Prado, 2018). Hate is an unparalleled problem, which represents a challenge for the person himself and for the social bond. Evil: «invitation to think less, or provocation to think more and even in another way?» (Ricœur, 2011, p. 21).

This research deals with the analysis of hate speech on Twitter networks, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which we use hermeneutics, in an exercise in contrast with the theory of Ferdinand de Saussure (1991), to analyze the semantic fields, signifiers and meanings that are transversally found in the communicative gesture (Derrida, 1971). The research is qualitative with a multidisciplinary approach, between personalistic, psychoanalytic, linguistic, communication and ethics anthropology. The anthropological foundation allows the scale of citizen values to be measured in contrast to the scale of hate. Under the psychoanalytic discipline, the chaining of the instinctual desire of the repetitive statement, the insistence on hatred, insulting the other are considered. In linguistics, the semantic universe of the ideological opposition that surrounds political communication on Twitter is considered: denigration of the human being, racism, ridicule and mockery (joke). On the approach of personalistic ethics: the distinction between dignity of the person and denigration of the human being. Communication: emission, production and reticularity. In the analysis of the chain of signifiers, the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud (2014) and Jacques Lacan (2007) will be included to interpret a collective unconscious of a social mass that allows the circulation and detour of the digital communication of tweets, the ties imaginary and symbolic of the speeches of hate towards the master (presidents), which make up simulations of conversation (Baudrillard, 1988), false spheres of conversation.

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