Internet and Social Media Not Driving Polarization
Another point for socionomics: evidence suggests social media is not driving polarization. One theory says people are becoming more divided because they see opposing points of view in social media, and people are less civil online, resulting in increased polarization. However, I don’t find that to be the case and know people who never became uncivil, yet defriended people or were defriended over politics.
First of all, it’s worth noting that the divide is real. In 1960, only 5 percent of Republicans and Democrats would have been displeased if their son our daughter married outside of their party, but in 2010 that rose to half of Republicans and almost a third of Democrats. The worst of the strife is coming from senior citizens: Americans older than 75 have shown a bigger increase in polarization than their younger counterparts, based on their responses to the American National Election Study. That’s relevant because they’re much less likely to go online to communicate, with less than one in every five people older than 75 using social media in 2012 versus 80 percent of the 18-39 group.
The finding “rules out what seem like the most straightforward accounts linking the growth in polarization to the internet,” though “young adults polarized through social media might in turn affect the views of older adults or might indirectly influence older adults through channels like the selection of politicians or the endogenous positioning of traditional media.”
Socionomic theory says social media and financial markets alike are expressions of social mood, but not the cause.