Facebook and social media – do they divide society?
The functionality, motivation and effect of Facebook is very well described in the Gegenstandpunkt article and you could update the article about Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and other new and social media. Many mainstream media and politicians claim that social media divide and split society, form echo chambers, distribute fake news and thus make populist movements and parties possible in the first place. On the one hand, it must be said that first of all for polarization are the material conditions, the social conditions and dissatisfaction with it which can divide society, which interpretation of reality people have in their mind and communism and fascism became en masse, polarized and then sometimes came to power even without Facebook and social media. That all political force try to use modern media and means of communication is nothing new, although today the spread of news is much faster and more massive, so there is already a certain catalyzing and acceleration.
Especially since the so-called traditional quality media see themselves robbed of their gatekeeper function, which they had earlier, but that was also true in Weimar and other times. It is not by accident that the FAZ has recently started reprinting articles in its newspaper from 1930 thatshowed that their artciles were not able to prevent the National Socialists and their seizure of power. In addition, so-called serious media such as STERN have already published Hitler’s diaries or SPIEGEL had his own fake news reporter Relotius, just as many US media vigorously spread the war lies of the Bush Jr. administration regarding the Iraq war in 2013 and also strongly fueled the catastrophic NATO war in Libya. Political competitors, especially since they are quite innovative, have existed at all times. The much-touted fake news also existed earlier as press hoaxes or and propaganda lies.
Mc Luhan already formulated that „the medium is the message“, complained about television, that the population was becoming increasingly uneducated, would not read „good“ books, and the growing disability to grasp complex and lengthy texts led to functional illiteracy, as today some experts complain digital dementia, especially since nobody wants to read longer, more detailed and in-depth texts and communication is also becoming more and more minimalist, such as the 140 character limit on SMS or Trump’s Twitter, although Luhmann thought also about how the state could use the new media and television for democracy and education. also in form of a global village. If you look at today’s public television programs and the private ones, you get the impression that commercial quota pressure and the politically intentional stupiditisation of the population go hand in hand. The Russian strategist Karaganov is also thinking about whether to educate the elite and its coming members by keeping them away from social media as smartphones and alike would undermine the intellect, analysis and thinking skills, although the new media and technologies could in fact be used to raise the level of education. Especially since the question is not just general education, but also the content.
In addition, it is also correctly noted that the so-called Twitter revolutionaries probably had naive ideas about the power of the medium, as well as the power of their counterparts from the state and their well-organized and well-organized opponents such as the Muslim Brotherhood who were intentional in terms of content and apparently also hoped that content beyond a few good-sounding phrases and ideals would arise spontaneously. Especially since the late President of the German-Arab Society, Peter Scholl-Latour, also criticized the Twitter revolutionaries with the words: „For a revolution, you not only need Facebook but also guns“.
The Internet hype of the futurists of Silicon Valley and the Davos elite, their allies in old hippie circles like Barlow or Timothy O Leary and then also the Pirates Party as well as the political leadership, who promised the dissolution of hierarchies and unlimited freedom, is now clearly dampened in view of the possibilities of AI and surveillance technologies and censorship: NSA scandal, whistleblower, China, Golden Shield and social bonus system. Many of the promises of salvation sound in the face of Neo-Orwellian conditions no longer believable. And that they alone are an argument for democracy and capitalism is also a somewhat thin legitimation. As Churchill already said in contrast to the euphoric Popper, Soros and their Open Society: „Democracy is the worst of all forms of government – apart from all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.“
But since the promises of neoliberal capitalist democratic imperialism are not being fulfilled, repeatedly leading to the systemic economic and financial crises, wars and social inequality including huge waves of refugees, climate change and environmental destruction, many people see globalists, Davos, Bilderberg, Soros, Popper and the Open society as their enemy and perhaps let themselves be appeased for a while with the fact that there is nothing better and that the historical alternatives are even worse. This is not a sustainable and socially acceptable Contract social and the people want something better, although they have no idea what this looks like or just in the form of a protectionist nationalism, Islamic State, Neo-Ottoman Empire or whatever. The social division and polarization is catalyzed and accelerated by these media, but the material conditions and the perception that comes into contrast with the state ideals or is created them by the promotion competition and nationalism which is called patriotism is the real reason why the Trumps, Putins, Orbans and others come up like this. Since no social discussion about a new social system is desired or promoted, there is no way out in sight.