#Donald Trump has left us feeling profoundly anxious and confused, it’s the news none of us wanted to hear. But it's not really 'none' of us, is it?
The Donald Trump echo chamber
Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the USA. We feel really worried, sh*t-scared, and don’t know what to say. Was this meant to be a joke? Can it really be happening? Baffled?
Well yes, because just like Brexit in the UK – #Social media has created an unprecedented echo chamber of opinion and news. More than ever, we are only seeing, sharing and engaging with views that are similar to our own. This polarisation phenomenon is dividing both politics and people, and it is damaging democracy.
According to Facebook’s own study last year, people have five politically like-minded friends for every one friend on the other side of the political spectrum. Perhaps last week's - surprise? - election result just proved it. Social scientists believe that for us to be healthy and happy its important to encounter a variety of political opinions. But, after logging on throughout, it’s clear that this isn’t happening.
The internet makes us dumb
The internet isn’t working, it’s making us dumb. And social media is the worst culprit in this process. Did you know that the Facebook algorithm itself is designed to give you the content you want? Every day we see less and less “content” that we can “engage” with.
So, ironically enough, if you're reading this Blasting News article you are likely to broadly agree with what it's saying. So, now we’ve fallen down this echo chamber is it possible to climb out? Of course, it’s not just algorithms that makes us feel both confused and scared in 2016. Individual choice is also leading to this polarising political climate. As more and more of us take our news online, and use social media we are making decisions to not read things we don’t agree with.
No opportunity to debate
It means we do not really debate and we’re losing the ability to consider an opinion that clashes with our own. If you scroll up and down your Facebook feed right about now you'll probably see plenty of evidence of this. By cutting ourselves off from dissenting voices, and looking at our phones and chatting with like-minded people instead, we are all - collectively - turning this year into one of the most frightening times anyone can remember.
If we’re all surrounded by people who think the same way as us, it’s easy to forget the rest of the world doesn’t follow the same pattern. There are millions and millions of Donald Trump supporters out there. But online life is shielding too many people from their problems, their anger and this means there's little understanding.
Is there an answer?
So, what’s the answer? There’s no simple solution. But I reckon one of the best things would be not "Liking" this piece, but actually taking the time to speak to people (in real life) who are different to you. Understand why people are seriously angry, worried and more confused than ever before. After all, different ideas on the world can be a good thing. #American Election