The Internet Will Enable World Peace
In today’s world, knowledge of others is greatly expanding because of video, social media and the Internet. When people around the world connect, see each other and communicate, they can identify with and recognize the humanity in strangers everywhere. This is an unprecedented capability that has only existed for a few years, but is already having an effect, e.g. a Facebook page where Israelis and Palestinians communicate. This connection is enhanced by video because it communicates so much more powerfully than the printed word. Yes, we have had film and television, but they were both one-way transmissions, carrying the message of a narrow elite. Now, conversations are taking place all across the world. We are learning about others from their own lips, and the message the elites of this world wish to promote is losing its spell.
We fear the unknown, and strangers and foreigners have historically been the unknown. Governments have exploited this, as excellently portrayed in “1984” by three super-powers in perpetual war. However, the Internet has popularized alternative narratives, and along with recognizing the humanity in all of us, world peace will be attained within the century.
I like the idealism here, but I am not sure it follows. How many of your ‘conservative’ friends ever look at dailykos.com, and how many of your ‘liberal’ friends can stomach newsmax.com?
People tend to select information sources that confirm their beliefs, rather than those that contradict them. This means that while in aggregate the web is diverse, from the point of view of any particular user it consists almost exclusively of sites they are comfortable with. Consequently people rarely see the ‘alternative narratives.’ I would love to see a study that proves me wrong on this.
It’s easy to confuse correlation with causation, and mere anecdote doesn’t substitute for rigorous study, but it seems to me that over the past few years, while Internet use in the US has increased, the political dialog has become increasingly polarized.
I know about the idea that news sources are increasingly fragmented and this allows people to surround themselves with only assenting opinions. I don’t think these barriers are water-tight (idea-tight?), and the world-view of one group seeps out to influence all others. Last year, conservatives fell over themselves to praise MLK. It took 40 years to penetrate their skulls, but it did.