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Has Facebook Ruined Bi-partisanship?

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Ronnyboy
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#1

Posted 21 August 2012 - 06:20 AM

I hate to make this a huge political views sort of thing, but it's a discussion I've had with lots of people.

Facebook, as we all know, gives the power to anyone of having their opinions voiced out to the world in their statuses, comments, and pictures. The problem with that is that humans all have different thoughts and ideas. We make assumptions, make ideas, and judge people by their character and voice. A persons voice on Facebook is open to anyone and allows us to see and judge quickly and cause us to either think like them or "hate" them. A very large split I know, but it's a simple example.

The best way to describe this is anything that isn't verified through a news source. Blogs, people's thoughts, pictures they find, anything that they can put on Facebook to show their friends and rile up their enemies. People have recently been putting up blogs about the Helium Shortage; this shortage has sparked a lot of political controversy as well. Due to government mandates, the government has control of the helium supplies that supply 60% of the world with their helium. People take this as a "socialism" act and believe that free trade and "conservative" values on this are the only way to fix it. This sparks heated debates of people turning blue in the face in real life, and then gaining virtual enemies at the same online. People can't agree that government mandates may or may not be necessary, and have civil discussions. They have gained the idea that their idea is right, their voice should only be heard, and the amount of likes they get signifies how great their argument REALLY was.

Now instead of debating the mandates, or debating about solutions to the problem, we are stuck squabbling on the "Who done it?" game. As the election season and more people become "involved" with their political views, I fear that bi-partisanship will be dead. People won't see the gain in helping out each other, and this will cause people to want to see their candidates, party, what ever the case take their side and simply "sling the mud" against the other. People will believe they are right and want their views heard, and a candidate or representative is the best way to do this. So with an outlet like facebook, will we never see working together, for better?

Otter
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#2

Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:01 AM

...as opposed to what, ronnyboy? The days before facebook when everyone shared meaningful and thoughtful conversation with one one another, and everyone measured their responses carefully?

I've got a cold reality check for you. smile.gif

It is far too simplistic to say that facebook is simply a digital version of the watercooler, but in many ways it is. You share what you like with your friends, make fun of people who are different, and go about your business. Facebook is far from the first public forum where an individual can state something ignorant and walk away from it scott free witha trail of admirers. Hell, cavemen did it at Lascaux. From the very moment we first learned to express ourselves, the crippling effects of cronyism began to roll out. I know there's a subtext in those bison, somewhere.

On the other hand, there is a far more persavise way that the internet is killing the idea of a public conversation. Think about your first line of defense when it comes to something you don't like - ignorance. You can walk away: hear no evil. But your friends will inevitably bring the topic up! Pesky, they forced you into a conversation where you might learn something. Damn them... But wait! Facebook has now made ignorance easier. Unfriend or ignore that sonofabitch. Maybe it'll stop his farmville updates as well.

That, in and of itself, is a disturbing development. Ignorance shouldn't be so easy. But the internet wants to make it easier for you. Now, based on your algorithmically defined interests, the internet is tailoring itself to suit you. Google feeds you search results and news stories based on what they think you want to know. And Facebook? Through positive reinforcement (likes) you've taught facebook what sort of content you want to be talking about and sharing. You don't even have to try ro be ignorant of other viewpoints anymore - Facebook's doing it for you. And selling you a "weird old trick" to whiten your teeth at the same time.

So yeah, I agree with your statement, but the truth at the heart of it all is far more frightening than your argument suggests. I'm off to give myself a responsible dose of FOX news.

Mike Tequeli
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#3

Posted 21 August 2012 - 03:57 PM

Political polarization goes a lot deeper than people arguing on Facebook, that's more indicative of a wider problem. I'm not even sure Facebook is the best indicator that bipartisanship has become impossible. Otter is right about how the internet is essentially putting people in partisan bubbles, with little debate from opposing viewpoints people become more sure they are absolutely correct and their positions become ideologically extreme. Look at Reddit, it's an absolute cesspool of people just agreeing with each other and remaining completely ignorant to the other side. The amount of smug, self righteous liberal atheists there is mind boggling because very few of them can defend their (often valid) viewpoints, they instead build strawmen out of their opponents and assume they are right because the other side are just birther fundies or something. The result of this Internet bubble is a bunch of thin skinned losers who can't handle people who disagree with them.

But again that polarization did not in any way start on the Internet, this has been a gradual process over more than twenty years. The Internet just makes it worse.

Otter
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#4

Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:33 AM

Just out of interest - why twenty years? What do you see as the beginning of this divide? I ask because I would argue that is goes all the way back to the creation of the republic, and I'm sure even to the sheep herders and temple builders before that.

Adept
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#5

Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:00 AM

I've never had a Facebook account but I think I understand what it does. It seems like a billboard to advertise your views or express your thoughts and have others comment on them. A clear divide of our collective views of political issues and the candidates that represent them is at least as old as ancient Greece. Our modern technology allows us to view them with the convenience of anywhere while in the past we had to physically go down to the "forum" and sit and listen and later discuss amongst the rest of the commoners. Things like Facebook lets all of us get a good whiff of the majorities opinions on things that they didn't think up themselves but heard from the "experts" and then regurgitate back and forth. That sounds bad but we did not create two partisan points of view. We inherited them. Our black and white dichotomy is, I think, our own collective illusion. It divides us from solving issues and keeps us squabbling about our own ignorance instead of trying to work together, rationally, to figure out the best solution for our problems. Since our problem exist on a multi-contextual level, we end up sounding like children arguing over who next on the swing set. I don't know how to fix things but I do know we go about it like we would rather see our future in demise than work together logically. A zoo we live in sometimes. The media is the supplier of our favorite drug. Aggression and competition which when it comes to our well being seems to hinder us from progress. Seems.

Irviding
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#6

Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:32 AM

I think the problem is people are more willing to just spew nonsense online. In an argument on facebook, I've seen people say things like "Obama put us in debt for 58 trillion dollars". Those same people would NEVER say something like that in person. I think this willingness to not really check what you're saying, and not have to be civil is polarizing things more. Not just facebook, but even forums in general. There are no moderators on facebook and in many general chat forums like there are in this D&D section. That in turn allows people to spew nonsense in a very uncivil manner, thus polarizing politics in general as there is no filter like there is in person. In a debate at the watercooler, you're not going to tell your buddy to go f*ck himself and his liberal bullsh*t, because he might kick your ass. But you'd be happy to say that on facebook or on a forum.

El Diablo
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#7

Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:20 AM

QUOTE (Ronnyboy @ Monday, Aug 20 2012, 23:20)
Now instead of debating the mandates, or debating about solutions to the problem, we are stuck squabbling on the "Who done it?" game.

what??

I'm pretty sure that Facebook has NOTHING to do with this phenomenon.
this has been going on since the beginning of the 24-hour news cycle which has existed for decades before Facebook was even a glimmer in the corner of Mark Zuckerberg's eye.

in fact, I don't even think Facebook has affected it.
the proliferation of the 24-hour news cycle (from TV to the internet) has had much more impact on the spirit of bipartisanship than Facebook could ever hope to incur.

Ronnyboy
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#8

Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:15 PM

QUOTE (El_Diablo @ Thursday, Aug 23 2012, 00:20)
QUOTE (Ronnyboy @ Monday, Aug 20 2012, 23:20)
Now instead of debating the mandates, or debating about solutions to the problem, we are stuck squabbling on the "Who done it?" game.

what??

I'm pretty sure that Facebook has NOTHING to do with this phenomenon.
this has been going on since the beginning of the 24-hour news cycle which has existed for decades before Facebook was even a glimmer in the corner of Mark Zuckerberg's eye.

in fact, I don't even think Facebook has affected it.
the proliferation of the 24-hour news cycle (from TV to the internet) has had much more impact on the spirit of bipartisanship than Facebook could ever hope to incur.

While a part of it, they never allowed people to be open and let everyone have their voice and have it be seen. It's everyone shouting their thoughts, allowing people to agree, or disgagree, their points along with everyone else allowing ignorance of thought to spread.

sivispacem
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#9

Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:08 PM

I'd argue it's always been that way, though. Nothing has changed- the lay man is still both ignorant, and self-obsessed; it just appears that it has become more prevalent because people are broadcasting it in a public forum. There has always been scope for people to say any old sh*te about any topic, be it politics, economics, or anything else. All social media and public communication methods have accomplished is forcing (okay, not actually forcing but more subjecting) people to listen to it.

Icarus
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#10

Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:20 PM

QUOTE (Irviding @ Wednesday, Aug 22 2012, 22:32)
I think the problem is people are more willing to just spew nonsense online.

That's one of the major tenets of the Internet: it's pretty simple to spread lies and falsities with a simple click. What's worse is that like 95% of people on the Internet won't even bother to fact check what they've just read, so it's no wonder ignorance spreads like a wildfire.

About two weeks ago, an old co-worker of mine from the days I worked at Greyhound shared a photo from an anti-Obama group on Facebook and the picture was split in half: on one side, there was a rolling pin, a knife, and another item from a kitchen (don't remember - a weapon of opportunity); on the other side, there was a picture of an AR-15 and an AK-47. The caption said something along the lines of "one of these is involved in more murders... (hint: you don't need a background check for it)."

Of course, I saw that and thought it was a load of crap, so I go to Wikipedia (don't judge) about homicides in the United States and find a graph that pretty much negates the photo, so I post that for my former co-worker.

He calls me out and says the graph doesn't have any citations (which, to be fair, it didn't). Of course, neither did that photo, but I decided not to call him out on that. I went to websites of the DoJ and FBI to back up my point and then posted that. He finally admitted defeat, but the next day, he just went back to sharing crap and I didn't feel like having to be his fact checker.

That's probably one of the most annoying things with Facebook (not counting the annoying requests for Farmville or other stupid games) is that people use is to spread misinformation faster than a pair of rabbits can breed.

[EDIT] Re-reading this, there's an irony in me talking about 95% of people won't fact check. Obviously, I didn't fact check that, but you can replace it with "many" and get the same idea. tounge.gif

El Diablo
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#11

Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:29 PM

honestly, I think that if you changed the word "Facebook" to the word "Internet" then your OP would make a lot more sense.

"Has the Internet Ruined Bi-partisanship?"
yes. yes it has.

24-hour news cycle + internet anonymity + internet echo-chamber of ideas = worst electoral process since the beginning of time.
there's no fact checking, no trust, no challenging of political dogma, and no accountability.

Mike Tequeli
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#12

Posted 24 August 2012 - 03:42 PM

QUOTE (Otter @ Wednesday, Aug 22 2012, 01:33)
Just out of interest - why twenty years?  What do you see as the beginning of this divide? I ask because I would argue that is goes all the way back to the creation of the republic, and I'm sure even to the sheep herders and temple builders before that.

It's perhaps not a very solid figure but I wrote a particularly good paper on this a while ago, and my research seemed to suggest that the beginnings of the partisan divide were perhaps the late 60s or early 70s, but the level of polarization didn't become drastic until the 1980s when the parties essentially realigned their ideologies. Since then the policy positions of Democrats and Republicans have been growing further apart, and the most conservative Democrats are no longer more conservative than the most liberal Republicans.

Once you try to quantify polarization among regular Joes on Facebook things become way more difficult. From personal observation though I really do see it, and when a country becomes this divided it can only lead to bad results. I wouldn't just chalk it up to partisanship that has existed since the founding era, America definitely started out more partisan than the founders intended right from the beginning, but our current situation is particularly divided at least compared to about fifty years ago.

The Internet isn't helping at all either.

Irviding
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#13

Posted 24 August 2012 - 05:43 PM

QUOTE

my research seemed to suggest that the beginnings of the partisan divide were perhaps the late 60s or early 70s,

Your research would be correct... that whole breaking apart of the American electorate happened with Nixon's people. Pat Buchanan especially. They found that it was easier to pit people against each other in order to build up your candidate. Then came the 24 hour news cycle, then we have now the internet, where there's just endless spew of bullsh*t.

Morpheus72
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#14

Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:26 PM

Deep thought is anathema to most people. Always will be. All that facebook has done is distract people even further from rational, socratic dialogue, making it increasingly difficult for the masses to take politics seriously.




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