November 3, 2020
Well here we are. And we wait to see who we declare ourselves to be as a people, as a nation. Yet regardless the outcome of this election, the path forward calls for healing and reconciliation. Because regardless the outcome of this election, we are a nation deeply divided and polarized. Yes. There will be obstacles in our path.
As chilling as is the prospect of a continuation of the current administration, there is another obstacle I find even more chilling. It’s what got us to this polarized place. And we are complicit, albeit unwittingly. It’s time to get our wits about us.
Dennis and I recently watched A Social Dilemma. It was beyond sobering and I highly recommend it. As Netflix says about it, This documentary-drama explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations. It features former executives from Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Each and every one responsible for creating the social media landscape. Each and everyone now raising the alarm over what it has become.
The dangerous impact is the tracking of every move we make on any of these platforms and using and selling that information to corporations and organizations who want to shift and shape our perspectives to their agenda whether that is selling us stuff or a political ideology. What’s most relevant to our current political and cultural polarization is the use of this information to feed us information specifically tailored to our personal and cultural beliefs and profiles. So we see vastly different information from one another. Those on the left get the narrative of the left. Those on the right get the narrative of the right. The result is that we are not working with the same information, but information that selectively reinforces our world view.
These executives are very clear that this has been at play in this election cycle. The polarization increases and the chasm gets deeper and wider. The outcome of this election will not change that.
Of course current executives in each of these social media platforms dispute this perspective. As they would. Their fortunes, their vast fortunes, are tied to this commercialization and commodification of us not as consumers but as products.
Grim. Yes. But only if we are not aware. Because only from a place of awareness we are able to understand and navigate this chasm. Only from a place of awareness can we be more discerning about our engagement with social media. And only through awareness and discernment will we be able to step around this obstacle in our path and come together around what we hold in common to begin healing and reconciliation.
The way forward, the only way forward, is in crossing the chasm.
Judith – email@example.com
Note: The film offers several ways to mitigate the social media impact. We have now turned off several of our notifications in Facebook, including the marketplace notification.
Thank you for this, Judith. As the social networks have increased their footprint and hold on us, true journalism has suffered. Sen. Maria Cantwell is trying to take action in the Senate, after more than 2,000 local newspapers have closed in the last 2 decades, 70 this year alone.
This is an important statistic because trained journalists have a code of ethics where they try to report as fairly as possible. As a writer (and journalism major in college), I appreciate the critical nature of local journalism. What would a world be like without impartial reporting on any issue?
Here is a link to the opinion piece that mentions Sen. Cantwell’s proposal. Please consider actions to help save true journalism.