Economics/Class Relations

The real reason for polarization

Nicholas Carlson October 27, 2022


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The big story
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Americans are deeply divided — politically and socially. 


Conventional wisdom blames social media for the widening divide — but researchers who study this stuff don’t believe that the echo chambers of social networks are the real problem.


Instead, senior correspondent Adam Rogers presents a new hypothesis: Maybe it’s not that social media has driven us into like-minded bubbles — maybe it’s that social media obliterated the bubbles we’ve lived in for centuries.


As one researcher told Insider, echo chambers “are more common offline than they are online.” But what’s actually changed is that social media scrambled the way we sort ourselves into groups.


Back in the day, conflicts over political ideas and personal preferences were sorted by geography. Things changed as we all became more connected. Now, we’re exposed to people outside our bubble. And every status update, every tweet, every selfie tells people what team we’re on, slotting us into a fight against the other side.


Read more on what’s going on with our deepening divide.

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Today’s sound bite
Can you guess if this headline is real or fake? “J.D. Vance Has a Burnt Monkey Testicle Problem”
Play along with our weekly game, Two Headlines and a Lie, on today’s edition of The Refresh from Insider.
Watch this
Crisis pregnancy centers are religious organizations that don’t provide abortions, yet they often show up in search results for the abortion pill. We visited one ourselves to figure out the true impact of these anti-abortion centers hiding in plain sight.
Today’s team
Nicholas Carlson (@nichcarlson), Hallam Bullock (@hallam_bullock), Lisa Ryan (@lisarya), and Shona Ghosh (@shonaghosh).
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