Media and Communication
Technology, particularly the internet, has induced vast change in how people value and engage in discourse. We have, thanks to the internet, a strong encouragement for participating in discussion with personal jurisdiction; every voice matters. All at once, more people are freely broadcasting and criticizing each others’ opinions on issues beyond their proximal reach. That being said, despite the advantages of immediate access to information and news, the overwhelming reign of social media and its unequivocal competence to influence public opinion - and to hinder one’s ability to generate a constructive conclusion, ironically flaunt the notion that technology is an improvement for mankind.
Reasonably so, people scroll through their news feeds to find agreeable content to like and share. Likewise, being criticized from the contrary perspective is never the intention for consumers, nor is it for the media companies and providers who would not receive any boosted ratings at the end-game. Bill Gates has asserted before that “[Social media] lets you go off with like-minded people, so you're not mixing and sharing and understanding other points of view…” Responsible for accumulating what is often referred to as ‘social media bubbles’ or ‘echo chambers’, discourse over social media has established immense political polarization. America’s most recent election is very much the epitome of such phenomenon. A problem persists where each participant of the internet has possession over information from several ideologies, yet chooses to assemble their own personal paradise of information brilliantly catered to them, à la mode.
Is social media at fault for political polarization? Or is our behavior on social media at fault when we shield ourselves away from what we may not want to see? Do these echo chambers build communities of like-minded thinkers or faux utopias of selective news? If there is a balance, how do we achieve it? Any arguments built around these core issues is fair game for the Media & Communication Roundtable at TASC 2018.
Roundtable Leaders: Sharon Wang and Ben Alpert