Three years ago I started this blog with a single question, “Are we really connected?”
Three years on, and in the wake of the 2016 US election, and the aftermath of Brexit, and the seeming rise of nationalism across the Western world (or at least the perception of it), the answer seems clear.
No. We are not connected. We are divided.
And I think in no small part it’s modern communications which are to blame. It’s because of what we hear and see about the outside world. It’s because our online gateways, our sources of almost all information about the world, are algorithmically calculated to show us only what we agree with. It’s because our social media networks are less snapshots of society and more echo chambers of like-minded opinion. It’s because the emergence of search bubbles and clickbait culture has, in a thousand little ways, desensitised us to hyperbole, hyper-inflated our worldviews, aggressively tugged our attention in opposing directions and babbling corners…
Now we’re divided on many lines — political, but also, sexual, racial, cultural.
And look — I know this is only the narrative. I know this is the story. That if you turn off the radio and switch off your phone and close your laptop and look out the window, the world seems alright. Streets hum. People are pleasant. It all continues.
But it seems less people are tuning into their windowsills. And right now it seems more important than ever to remind people of that fact — to make people more conscious of how heavily mediated our worldviews are.
For a long time, culture has spruiked the story that the Internet has made us more connected than ever before, more aware of other perspective, more open to empathy. I think now we’re seeing otherwise.
I left my old blog dormant for the better part of three years — I kinda regret not keeping it up.
Needless to say, the fire’s been relit.