Monday, January 6, 2014

Digital Media = Surge in Partisanship?

I just read somewhere that digital media (mainly the internet) is responsible for the increasely partisan nature of political debate in North America. I think there's some truth to that. But I also think it's best to avoid thinking there was ever a "good old days" when society wasn't polarized by something.

Weren't the Second-Wave Feminists accused of being "shrill" and "confrontational"? Were gays in the age of AIDS in the 1980s thought to be an angry, disreputable bunch? Wasn't US society polarized by the Black Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War? Was the FLQ a more polarizing group than the present Bloc and Parti Quebecois, even though there wasn't an internet for them to post their manifesto(s) on? What about the Asbestos Strike? Or the labour battles of the first half of the 20th Century in general?

If things have gotten more polarizing, it's more because of economics than digital media. The present generation of young people aren't going to enjoy even the level of security their parents had, and their parents' incomes and standard of living are stagnating or declining. The left is angry as hell about the stealing and the lies and the corruption. The right-wing has been trained to blame the weakest victims of elite depredations, and/or the leftists who challenge the elite agenda. Justified anger vs. chumps. The digital media thing only intensifies this.

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