Social Media and Democracy
In our present Information Age, we have access to more information at our fingertips than ever before. The rise of the internet and social media has given a public voice to individuals on such a scale that traditional journalism is being reformed. Since anyone can post stories and opinions online, the plurality of perspectives presented in the public sphere has rapidly multiplied. While this phenomena has contributed to the Post-Truth movement, it is also an opportunity for new ways of promoting democracy and bottom-up social movements, as demonstrated by the Arab Spring.
New communications technologies provide opportunities to address many of the challenges of journalism presented above. Unfortunately, as convincingly explained in the documentary, The Social Dilemma, these technologies have also been co-opted by a profit-driven agenda that uses big data to manipulate the masses for the market. Even a simple Google search is designed to present carefully curated results that are unique to each user; this means finding shared truths online is no simple task. This is an unfortunate result of the mindset that “if something is free, then you are the product.”
An educated and informed populace is fundamental to a healthy democracy. Access to shared truth is fundamental to a healthy democracy. The technology available today makes this more possible than ever before. If these technologies were implemented with a wellbeing mindset, rather than a profit-driven mindset, we might be able to transition into the most empowering, democratic, and cooperative era in human history.