Social media is hijacking every issue, making us pick sides like we are rooting for a sports’ team

Angry Emoji on a smart phone screen


“Falsehood flies and truth comes limping after it so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.” ― Jonathan Swift

Social media is hijacking every issue and making it worse. No matter the topic — take the Middle East, for example— we are expected to take sides as if we are rooting for a sports team. We seem to have forgotten that human lives are at stake, and it’s not an either/or scenario.

As Progressives, we pride ourselves on being on the right side of justice. But what we don’t do well is allow a healthy debate within our communities. We do not have to agree with each other on every single issue. We must allow for differences of opinion that do not drive people to vote for the other side.

Republicans know all too well that they can exploit our weaknesses. And we continue to take the bait. But we cannot allow them to win.

As it stands now, if the Presidential election were held tomorrow, I am not sure Democrats would win. And why? Because we are still not pushing the always-on 24/7 persuasion campaigns that the right-wing has undertaken for decades. We can’t wait for a few months before the election to put money and effort into supporting a candidate. It doesn’t work.

On the other hand, the right-wing has memorized the propaganda playbook. The Republican party knows that changing hearts and minds takes time. The rise of disinformation being disguised as fact means some on the right don’t care that they are purveyors of lies as long as they sow doubt within communities that traditionally vote Democratic. You only have to look at the data from the 2020 election to see that Trump made inroads into the African American and Latino communities.

Social media has made it easy for propaganda to get into our news streams. These platforms have been and continue to be the perfect conduit to get falsehoods out quickly and on a massive scale. Trump and his supporters understand how to use Facebook’s algorithm to their advantage, ensuring that their messages completely dwarf the truth. And as we’ve seen, once the lies are out there, no matter how quickly Facebook or Twitter remove the content, they’ve done their job at making people question their veracity.

We must continue exposing the right-wing’s tactics. We must develop specific strategies and action plans to fight back. The public and private sectors need to take a stand against these nefarious actors. And we must enact laws to prevent tech platforms from not taking responsibility for their role in destroying democracies worldwide.

Time is running out, but we can save our country by looking past our differences and building a coalition of Americans who care about the rule of law.

Together we can win, but first, we have to join the fight.

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