April 18, 2016

KICKING AGAINST THE PRICKS:

Social-media bubbles blind us to how much our candidates are hated (Megan McArdle, April 16, 2016, NY Post)

Even as Americans talk more and more about diversity, they are increasingly dividing themselves into like-minded bubbles where other people, with other experiences and viewpoints, almost never penetrate. This is the message of books by Charles Murray and Robert Frank, and indeed of our own social-media feeds.

Social media makes this problem worse. Even if we aren't deliberately blocking people who disagree with us, Facebook curates our feeds so we get more of the stuff we "like." What do we "like"? People and posts that agree with us. Given that Facebook seems to be the top news source for millennials, that matters quite a lot.

It's only natural, then, to wonder if the increasingly impenetrable bubbles are affecting our politics... [...]

I've been variously assured, with complete confidence, that "no one" will vote for: Donald Trump, because he's a bigot. Ted Cruz, because he's a religious nut. Hillary Clinton, because of the Benghazi and e-mail scandals. Bernie Sanders, because he's a socialist.

We are apparently facing four years of the "none of the above" administration.

These people aren't exactly wrong about the weaknesses of their opponents. But they overestimate the strength of these objections.

They seem to believe their own personal revulsion is natural instinct, shared by all but a tiny, mad slice of the voting public. I used to see this in Manhattan, where the population was not only homogenous but also in charge of much of the media.

What creates this utter certainty among a broader and broader slice of the electorate?

The Internet creates a sense of universality even as it has curated into an increasing personal uniqueness. You don't see the algorithms that fill your social-media feed and your search results with tidbits you will find congenial, so it's easy to think your bubble is more representative than it actually is.

This helps explain the mystery of this campaign: how so many voters have become so astonishingly indifferent to the electability of their major-party candidates. 

We take particular enjoyment at the revulsion with which folks meet any post from media outside their bubble.  It illustrates this disorder perfectly.

Posted by at April 18, 2016 7:53 PM

  

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