Social Media Are Ruining Political Discourse

“A presence on Twitter has become almost a job requirement for columnists and pundits. YouTube can also be a valuable educational resource with videos of political roundtables, academic conferences, lectures, and interviews. But the flow-oriented design of these media inhibits extended debate. When the liberal economist Paul Krugman tweeted a critique of the inconsistency of Republican policies on interest rates, for example, most of the more than 100 replies were simply derisive comments about Republican hypocrisy—posts created to derive pleasure from online riposte rather than advocacy for a particular position.

By contrast, blog posts and articles in online newspapers and magazines are not flow media; they are digital extensions of the kind of political writing that characterized printed newspapers and journals in the 19th and 20th centuries. There might be an opportunity for the readers to comment at the end of the article, but their responses do not contribute to flow and engagement in the same way. Even formal news and commentary often decays into flow fodder, such as when people post gut-feel responses to social media about articles they haven’t even read, based on the headline alone.

The politics of flow now poses a serious challenge to the earlier tradition of political debate. Some pundits have interpreted Trump’s populism as a realignment of the traditional political narratives of the left and the right. In both his presidential campaign and his presidency, Trump showed how easy it was to break both narratives into incendiary fragments that could be reshuffled into a variety of combinations. From the left he took opposition to international trade agreements and economic globalism; from the right, hostility to social programs and the federal bureaucracy (“drain the swamp”).”

Social Media Are Ruining Political Discourse
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/05/why-social-media-ruining-political-discourse/589108/?_hsenc=p2ANqtz-82144uBghSiGsOclpXytsnfx5Tlp906M_u1MaQEZnigt8tqgpaBa3-bcNJIuL37kqtaIDQ37Z78zbVZu9tGb--n5CPeNgKlogF764EeSc0pGRmWGI&_hsmi=72835581&utm_campaign=the_download.unpaid.engagement&utm_content=72835581&utm_medium=email&utm_source=hs_email
via Instapaper