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Journalist Jesse Singal in his article “Social Media is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A.” argues that people interested in discussing politics are falling victim to the brutal social media environment.
Mr. Singal obtained a Master’s in Public Affairs at Princeton University and studied inequality in America, making him a credible source on the subject. In his article he asserts that social media is actually hurting politics and making it “harder for people who are even remotely in ideological agreement”, to converse on basic news events. In addition, the media acts as a gatekeeper; allowing people to see only what the press releases.
A great example of this shown in the article is the case of Steven Pinker. Media outlets butchered his Harvard speech in order to portray him as an alt-right supporter, when in reality he was discussing how the “alt-right beliefs are illogical”. This real world example emphasises Singal’s assertion that social media is only making us dumber, because we allow ourselves to fall victim to deeply misleading reports, and to the idea that we must viciously defend our opinion against others.
Singal’s work should lead us to question not only how much we trust the media to report altruistically; but also to question ourselves and how we have allowed these online spaces to shape our political opinions. Politics are now influenced by every breaking news story, whether true or not, social media spreads them like wildfire.
As we can see from Singal’s examples in the article, media clips can be deeply misleading causing people to form political opinions on falsified information. In today’s world it is getting more and more difficult to sort out actual news from fake news posted in the online world. Social media apps allow people to use, what would otherwise just be news, as jokes, memes and satirical pieces making it hard to decipher between what is factual and what is meant to be comical. In addition, from the article one can contend that social media is a leading cause in the perpetuation of political polarization. Singal closes his article with one statement, “This is making us dumber.”, some fear that less knowledgeable Americans rely on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook to receive political news. Social media allows for political homophily, or the tendency for people of the same political views to stick together. Scientists have discovered that on popular media outlets, users ignore news or information reported from someone of the opposite political views. This perpetuates the divide in the American people and acts as an “echo chamber”, where people of the same political views reinforce ideas or beliefs and amplify them through repetition in these social media outlets.
To summarize, social media limits the people’s ability to debate in a cohesive and logical manner. All in all, journalist Jesse Singal highlights the effect social media is having on today’s society and political atmosphere. The use of social media as a political informant is making us “dumber” by limiting our political views and our ability to have open, logical discussions without hostile opinions being thrown in. The media is also subject to create reports based on butchered media clips, thus falsely informing the public. To solve these issues one must change the social dynamics of these online spaces, thus limiting the perpetuation of political polarization in social media outlets.
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