Sallie Showalter’s July 2 commentary makes a solid argument about how social media can polarize or radicalize our views, resulting in dangerous social repercussions. But there’s just one problem: Social media are unlikely to go away. The number of Facebook users, for instance, increases every year, thanks to individuals of all ages.
Facebook owes its popularity to its ability to provide users with a news feed that reflects users’ interests and friends. Would it really have become so successful if it delivered the same, standardized content to everyone? Or if it preselected our online friends?
Given that we can’t expect change from Facebook, we can only expect change from ourselves. Our social circles online parallel our social circles offline; we are the ones who choose to send and accept certain friend requests, give “likes” to certain articles and click on certain videos.
Facebook and other social media platforms have only made it easier — too easy, perhaps — to find individuals and online material aligned with our personal interests and opinions. But dissenting views on global issues are still abundant online and off. Ultimately, it’s on us to keep ourselves open-minded and well informed.
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