Monday, April 3, 2017

Polarization: The magnetism of our society today.

They say opposites attract, like the + and – of magnets… but is that still true given the current situation? I argue that birds of a feather flock together today. Positive leads to positive, and negative leads to negative, despite the fact that positives and negatives attract more than we think.

Dissoi logoi has been thought to have been on a decline due to internetworked media. Internetworked media has created personalized filter bubbles where people are only exposed to certain things in their media due to algorithms. Filter bubbles are created without people being aware that they are even in one, shape how people view and perceive the world around them, and people are not usually able to see what is objective or not. Filter bubbles are tailored to what our interests are and how we view things in our world. But many speculate about whether these internetworked medias and filter bubbles have caused us to become more polarized as a society and whether that is a positive or negative effect. That is up for debate as there is possibly a variety of reasons for the polarization of our society as we know it in this current day and age and various perspectives of what this polarization of society has done.

I personally agree that the decline of Dissoi logoi associated with internetworked media is responsible for the increase in polarization of late, but I also argue that there are other possible causes for polarization are out there. Another possible factor other than internetworked media is the general world views people are having are becoming more set in stone. People are less willing to budge, due to strong feelings about certain issues, despite them knowing the other side of the argument, which can cause polarization. This can be due to media as well, but it can also just stem from the person. However, while I would not say that internetworked media is necessarily causal for the polarization, but they have a strong correlation with one another. With all the algorithms – whether in technology or in the physical world – that surround us, we are already creating a filter bubble from a very young age.  The media around us is working to get our attention using its rhetoric. It pushes what we want to see in our faces and hides what we do not want to see away from us. This happens all over our media. News stations such as Fox, CNN, and even local stations, websites like Amazon, Target, and Walmart, and other media outlets know what gets them views, ratings, profits and attention, so they push certain stories or values to get a certain demographic to keep coming back to them. These medias often do not push both sides of the argument to engage debate and deeper cognitive processes.

In most ways, I would agree that polarization is disadvantageous and problematic in our society. Relationships are about compromise and in society we need to be able to come to a solution that satisfies all parties involved to some extent. This is crucial in politics as well, because the policies America decides on affects not only those who live in the country, but America also sets an example for the rest of the world as America is a highly influential world power. Not only that, this polarization leads to tension in society. This often prevents progress because the two ends of the spectrum will not budge from their radical viewpoints and the majority who are moderate do not side with either end of the spectrum. Thus, the moderate does not feel as if they have a voice in society, when – generally – most of society agrees with the other side to a certain point. However, on the flip side, I do find that there are benefits to this polarization, however few are present. The fact that people are becoming more strongly rooted in their beliefs is getting people to become active in their views and is getting people to be more involved in how they want their policies to be created. It creates a group of active participants in our politics. And on a more individual level, it gives people something to fight for and having polarizing viewpoints can often lead to great discussions when Dissoi logoi is not lost in translation. Sadly, Dissoi logoi is often lost in today’s culture due to these filter bubbles and internetwork media.

As a society and as individuals, we must learn how to balance polarization and Dissoi logoi to check our hubris before it gets out of hand, because as of now, we are too confident in our own views and ideas.


Eli Pariser, “Introduction” and “The User is the Content,” in The Filter Bubble (New York: Penguin Press, 2011), 6-16, 29-45.

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