POLARIZED! The Case for Civility in the Time of Trump: An experiment in civil discourse on Facebook by Jeff Rasley
In the US, our body politic is suffering from a sickness. Political polarization has become so extreme it has spawned violence against and by politicians. A new syndrome, “post-election stress disorder”, is recognized by psychologists. Instead of trying to lower the temperature, the media, politicians, and political action committees (PACs) stoke the angry passion of extremism.
Social media has contributed to this culture of outrage. It is polluted by the rantings of bigots, trolls, and terrorists. Fear-mongering politicians use it to widen social, economic, and ideological divisions. Social media could be a medium for civil discussions about political issues, but the temptation to respond impulsively and angrily has made politics even more toxic. It’s just easier to rant and vent or hide out in like-minded silos.
Is there any possibility of a cure for the sickness of our body politic?
Facebook is the largest forum in the history of humankind for free and open communication among citizens. It can be used to engage in meaningful conversations about important political, social, and economic issues. Facebook has the potential, as described by Mark Zuckerberg, to be a medium where people discover their common values and connect in uplifting and enlightening ways. Or, it can be used to further aggravate prejudices and divisions.
The choice is ours to make.
As is demonstrated in Jeff Rasley’s latest book “regular folks” can use their social networks for civil discussion and debate, and then for positive political action. Whatever our political leaning, we need not imitate President Trump by tweeting insults and ridicule at political opponents.
Who do we want to be as a nation?
“The Case for Civility” exposes the causes and effects of hyper-partisanship. It offers a “modest proposal” to treat the symptoms of toxic polarization at the grassroots level. An experiment Rasley conducted in Facebook based on the values of civility, tolerance, pragmatism, and moderation proves we can cure what ails us.