In one of my earlier posts, I stated that America began to loose its way four decades ago when we began to value money over people. In 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan and his promotion of conspicuous consumption on the part of his constituency, we began to loose our way. It was then when we began to devalue education and regard poverty as a choice rather than a symptom of something not working in our culture or society. To put it another way, we bought into the belief that paper money is real, (instead only a concept), and more important than human relationships. That attitude lead us to be willing to suspend our values regarding human rights and civil liberties and justice under the law in the aftermath of 9/11. We regarded terrorists as animal vermin that deserved whatever torture we decided to inflict on them. The danger of that kind of thinking is that it’s only a matter of time before it causes you apply that logic to everyone who disagrees with us, both foreign and domestic. With the aid of the Internet and Fox News we have turned on each other in that very same way. Rapidly, we are becoming not just political adversaries, but mortal enemies.
In Chapter 113 of this blog, I stated that the most significant culprit in creating this divide in American society is the Internet. The Internet and social media have created two separate streams of information, one for Republicans and one for Democrats. Communication between the two groups has been rendered almost impossible because of this. The country is operating on two separate streams of facts. Both sides believe they are loyal Americans fighting for God and country. This is a dangerous situation to say the least.
The tragedy of it all is that it is not due to politics that the two separate streams are being created, but for the benefit of commerce. Social media platforms are designed to keep your eyes and attention on your phone or computer so it can broadcast images of items it wants you to buy for as many of your waking hours as possible. The algorithms that run their computers don’t care if the information is true or not. It cares only that it appeals to your basic beliefs and value system, and in keeping you addicted to the device. The owners of these sites (Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc.) claim they can’t really regulate it because it is too successful. The algorithms used are so effective that they generate literally tons of money per hour for the platforms and the advertisers. They claim they have no choice but to do what creates the most money for their stockholders whether it’s good for the country or not.
If we the people don’t demand our government get a handle on this, there is no way this country can survive. If all communication between opposing views is seen as enemy propaganda, there is no way we can avoid conflict that will tear the country apart. I find it ironic that the companies have not thought of remedying the situation by simply reprograming the computers to send out one opposing tweet, post, etc. for every appealing one to the reader. The viewer will initially spend more time on the computer or smart phone sifting past the opposing communication to get to the appealing one, but at least the person will be exposed to a dissenting point of view even if only by the headline. Of course both communiqués would still need to be vetted for truthfulness as they are attempting to do now.
If the companies don’t volunteer to do something effective, we the people through government regulation must. There must be a bipartisan effort to get this done or we are doomed to go the way of Syria or Sarajevo. We now have a president who is as committed to binding our wombs as the previous president was to tearing them open. He can’t succeed unless we all agree that we must be exposed to both sides of every argument from the point of view of the adversary as well as the ally. The president can’t do it alone. The choice is ours. It’s up to us.