Monday, March 22, 2010

Populism Masked as Democracy: Facebook is No Place for Politics

Someone should do an academic study of online social networks and the body politic. If facebook is to be the place of political public discourse then maybe we should find a way to completely ZAP the internet, completely annihilate it from existence. But we know that's not going to happen. Everything is on or will be on the internet, on a little screen in front of our faces for us to oooh and ahhh over. But should our American political discourse be on it?

No. No it shouldn't. Not in the least. Especially facebook. Sure, it's great to post an article from this or that newspaper and share it with your friends or nearly everyone else in the world, but when people have an upwards of 15 comments and the content of these comments suggests that "someone should punch the president in the face," we need to draw the line somewhere. Sure, you are allowed to feel and say whatever you want, but the outright immaturity, ignorance, and disrespect that people display for one another and others needs a reality check. What happens when you put facebook and politics together is this: populist, anti-intellectual, knee-jerk, rambling reactionary, political discussion. I won't even call it discourse. That would be giving credit where it is simply not due.

Sure not everyone is a political science major or an American Studies major, but saying we should impeach the President on your "status" and not being able to tell anyone (15 comments later) for what? Please.

This does not help our politics. It polarizes them. And everyone that can't distinguish between the Washington Times op/ed page and the content in the rest of the paper, anyone that claims to love the Constitution but has never read it, anyone that can type the letters "s-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-m," gets a chance to broadcast the echo-halls of populist, reactionary, anger.

This is truly an interdisciplinary look at things. We've social movements, social networking, politics, communications, and even the fabric of American democracy at hand here.

And if democracy looks anything like facebook at this very moment, then maybe we should all move to China.

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