The Bernie Sanders campaign owes a lot to social media.
ut there is also a structural social issue that has enabled Sanders’ rise: the ability of the Internet in general, and social networks in particular, to cloister off and amplify political ideologies on the left and right alike.
Sat Jun 4 03:01:51 2016 - permalink -
ust as Fox News and talk radio carved off a group on the right that brooked our current era of no compromise, the architecture of how we consume and share information online has begun to do the same to a very different class of left-wing voters.
his generation has partially replaced traditional mainstream establishment narratives with localized media bubbles.
Facebook also said that users themselves were creating such bubbles.
“[T]hese sites,” I wrote, “are locked into a feedback loop of increasingly feeding red meat (or blue meat) to a hungry partisan base, which aggressively shares their content among like-minded friends, while moderates and opponents ignore them. This goes for Salon just as much as Rush Limbaugh.” This parallel didn’t exist before our current era of the social Web, when no left-wing media network or group of outlets could rival the influence and message discipline of cable and talk-radio pundits on the right. But the data released by Facebook—in addition to the rise of left-wing sites such as Raw Story, Media Matters, and Salon—suggested that the Internet had finally managed that feat.
And the most viral of these are often less about the nuts and bolts of politics than they are about visceral social issues, with examinations of privilege and the patriarchy infusing coverage of everything from mass shootings and police brutality to video games to Halloween costumes. In 2016, leftist politics—and leftist media—feels larger and more austere and purist. And its permitted bounds of disagreement feel narrower.
Even a site like Vox, with its wonkish Beltway origins, now frequently tilts hard to the left,
Judging by retweet counts, such lukewarm endorsements are far less compelling than the righteous excoriations of injustice with which Vox also fills our news feeds.
his kind of systemic critique butts against Vox writers’ more pragmatic praise for Clinton’s candidacy
This might be the crux of Sanders’ strength among the young: The more time you spend online, and the less you care about traditional, broader media sources, the more time you’re spending with people who think just like you do. And that’s the lesson Facebook has announced over and over: People like spending time with people who agree with them! Little wonder, then, that the fights over the Democratic primary on my Facebook wall feel so much nastier than the ones that took place in 2008: Everybody seems to have forgotten how to interact politely with others with whom they disagree.
Online social networking has allowed Sanders supporters to reinforce one another’s beliefs, so that the general shutout of Sanders by the mainstream media—and even a good deal of the leftist media—allowed Sanders to survive where he would have suffocated even in 2008. The Internet made it much, much easier for Sanders supporters to organize, with a core of young voters far more native to the Web than even Obama’s base eight years ago. It did so by catalyzing bubbles of would-be Sanders supporters who would have the strength to reject Clinton collectively rather than acclimate to her candidacy.
Sanders’ success suggests that the greater freedom of interaction enabled by the Internet has led to less willingness to compromise. My father may criticize me for being unrealistic in supporting Sanders, but my thousands of Facebook buddies say otherwise!
; it has not, in other words, restored moral authority to government itself. Likewise, polls reflect how people like their own representatives yet loathe Congress
nd the negatives, in tone and content, make up a larger chunk of what the partisan media focuses on these days—or at least that’s what goes viral
By providing partisans with a bubble of like minds, in which they harp on the defects of the system to the near-total exclusion of any virtues,