You’re being partisan, as defined by Merriam-Webster, if you’re “a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.” That sounds like something we want to avoid. Maybe it also sounds familiar? Obviously, in a democratic society, it is naive to expect everyone to subscribe to the same set of core values. The idea is that the democratic process can let people “work out” their differences through the art of crafting legislation that strikes a balance between differing policy objectives. However, this system begins to dysfunction when the political climate becomes so partisan that everything is “my way or the highway.” In 2016, more than 55% of democrats, and 49% of Republicans, said that members of the opposing parties made them “afraid.” The numbers get even worse among those who are most likely to vote. These are the largest percentages since the Pew Research Center began polling for this in 1992.
How does this tie into social media? Popular sites like facebook are largely driven by their ad revenue. A sure-fire way to get you coming back for more, is to intentionally show you posts that are most engaging to you. facebook’s news feed algorithm is complex, secretive, and ever-changing. We do know that the social media “bubble” and explosion of fake “news” may have had a significant impact on the outcome of the U.S. election. When you combine our hyper-partisan environment with a reliance on social media for getting our “news” (44% of the general population gets their news on facebook), it’s easy to see how our social media feeds have rapidly become echo chambers.
I’ve decided I would like to scream out into the great expanse of the internet, beyond my carefully-cultivated facebook echo chamber. Hello world!