Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing
by Chris Bail
At his ‘Polarization Lab’, Duke sociology professor Chris Bail looks at what effect social media actually has on our political behaviour. Breaking the Social Media Prism sums up, in a shortish book, the results of that research, and it’s not what you expect. Definitely a book worth reading if you’re a user of social media, not only to understand other people’s behaviour, but your own. (Also quite fun: if you have a Twitter account you can test your political ideology)
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“I’m fascinated by the toxicity of online debate, and how people can write detestable things to each other in a way they never would face-to-face. Living in the UK and with family in the US, I’m also slightly shocked by how polarized these two societies seem to have become. Each side seems to almost hate the other. Breaking the Social Media Prism by Chris Bail, a sociologist at Duke, takes on both these issues. Bail runs a ‘Polarization Lab’ at Duke. The book outlines not only what he’s learnt from his research, but what we can do to make things better. And ‘we’ is the operative word here, because while it’s easy to blame Facebook, the Russians, Cambridge Analytica etc. for everything that’s gone wrong, ultimately it is about us, and how each of us behaves. As he writes, ‘our focus upon Silicon Valley obscures a much more unsettling truth: the root source of political tribalism on social media lies deep inside ourselves.'” Read more...
The Best Nonfiction Books of 2021
Sophie Roell, Journalist
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