Populism, Polarization, and Social Media

We have a worldwide hate and polarization problem. The problem is perpetuated in the free information exchange that is modern social media, and specifically the irresponsible use of social media.

The Perceived Problem

Populist politicians have been elected recently whose primary message has been of exclusion, hate, and negativity. They whip up their base with rage and frenzy that is destructive even to their very selves. They often use social media to spread their message.

The Actual Problem

The perceived problem is the current politicians, as though they created the situation. While they may be part of the problem, the actual problem is the widespread irresponsible use of social media.

The Mainstream Media

The main stream media and press need only to take a side to win inspired viewers and therefore support the bottom line. Further, a new wag the dog situation has developed where the main stream media is following social media that is completely devoid of actual thought and has developed a vicious cycle where deeply polarized populations in turn produce more hate on social media.

Historical Context

The Reformation represented a fracture of long-standing institutions, for better or worse, and led to violent conflicts including the Thirty Years’ War. Both of these events followed the invention of the Gutenberg Press.

Donald Trump is the first world leader to be elected who used social media to spread his message. Like the Gutenberg Press, social media is a new, extremely efficient means of spreading ideas.

The Solution

The solution is for good intelligent people to take the extra moment to channel their political ideas and develop positive rhetoric on our youngest, most vulnerable forms of media that are just in their infancy. Good intelligent people should start WordPress blogs, contribute to this blog, and promote their productive, thoughtful blogs on social media in a positive way. This must be a group effort.

Editing Notes

The use of the word “populist” here clearly refers to right-wing movements. I seek a counter essay that lays out how both sides, or even just the left are using overly-simple basic instincts to garner votes, i.e. “populism.” Notice that they are just examples, not the primary problem. The solution here has to do with using social media responsibly, so keep in mind your solution must be similarly productive, whatever it may be.