Social Media’s Political Polarization

Social media helps to create a safe haven for people with similar political beliefs. This, in turn, creates a climate online where political extremism is promoted and debate is neglected.

Cass Sustein, a Harvard Professor, states, “to the extent that social media allow us to create our very own feeds, and essentially live in them, they create serious problems.” Our Facebook feeds become packed with people that have similar beliefs to our own. Thus, our beliefs are never challenged or put to the test. This self-protection, while having some benefits, helps “spread falsehoods, and promote polarization and fragmentation” states Sustein.

But of course, you cannot avoid everyone with a different opinion online. So what does happen when we run into a different opinion on Facebook or Twitter? Do we start an effective debate, in hopes of coming to some sort of middle ground? No, we end up arguing with them and spewing out labels to prove them wrong. After that, we have the choice of deleting them and never having to hear their opinion again. If we want to take it a step further, we can attempt to ban them and suppress their opinion, indefinitely.

This type of argumentative method ends up bleeding into our real lives. We see a political polarization in America, similar to the political polarization on Twitter. We must be accepting of different opinions, and be willing to openly debate our own opinions. Through proper debate, great ideas become stronger, and weak ideas become obsolete.

Sources:

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21678828-few-social-media-stars-among-europes-politicians-are-centrists-extreme-tweeting

http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/social-media-is-turning-us-into-thoughtless-political-extremists

https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2017-03-20/is-social-media-to-blame-for-political-polarization-in-america

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