【媒库文选】社交媒体政治气泡理论被戳破?

2019-12-07 11:41:01 来源:参考消息网 责任编辑:陈雪莲
连有质量的物体所带有的引力都被抹消。

核心提示:如果进步让人觉得格格不入并带有敌意,令人迷恋的过去就成了可以栖身的安逸之所。它带来的熟悉感可以产生巨大威力。熟悉原则指的是一种心理和进化现象,即人们更喜欢他们熟知的事物。如果这体现在媒体消费和投票选择上,那么固执己见就会变得更加明显,气泡始终密不透风,无需脸书推波助澜。

The internet is habitually invoked as the prime driver of today's political polarisation: the hermetic echo chambers of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are increasing division and entrenchment of the sort seen in the Brexit and Trump campaigns.

Users subscribe to feeds, channels and pages offering news that most closely represents their worldview, the story goes, along with misinformation about those who disagree with them, sealing themselves off from an alternative discourse.

Even Barack Obama backed the theory. “The capacity to disseminate misinformation…to paint the opposition in a wildly negative light,” he stated ahead of last year's election, “has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarise the electorate.”

But there's a problem with this idea. A working paper just published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research has thrown a spanner in the works. It found polarisation had increased most in the over-75s, those least likely to use the internet. So much for the reductive, knee-jerk hypothesis that life online is the key to rising partisanship.

The paper doesn't totally dismiss internet-related effects. It speculates that divisions fuelled online may radiate out to older people who don't use social media, or indirectly cause polarisation offline, through the selection of political candidates for example or by disrupting traditional media.

There are, of course, other possible explanations. Chief among them is that the politics of nostalgia are increasingly on the march. The Trump campaign was predicated on a rose-tinted view of the past. Now in office, his administration assuages the anxieties of those most wary of progress: the old.

In the UK, where a surprise June general election was announced two days ago, we saw the Brexit campaign capitalise on the same dangerous reverence for how things used to be. A breakdown of the polls confirmed support for Brexit among the over-65s was 60 per cent – the highest of any demographic group. Likewise for Trump: a majority of voters aged 65 and over backed him.

If progress feels alienating and hostile, the fetishised past becomes a cosy place to reside. Its familiarity can be potent. The familiarity principle denotes a psychological and evolutionary phenomenon in which people prefer things they know well. If this manifests in media consumption and voting choice, the digging in of heels becomes more pronounced and the bubble remains sealed,no Facebook required.

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