It’s ironic that less than two decades ago we thought that the Internet would bring us closer together and turn our planet into a kind of small village. Without a doubt, digital technologies have empowered citizens and democracies. But, as we’ve been learning, these empowered citizens express lots of different opinions, and while their diverse opinions contribute to civic engagement, the ensuing dialogues are often anything but civil. The Internet is now amplifying voices who previously struggled to be heard, and helping like-minded people to find each other and self-organize as activist communities who share a common interest or passion. Our technology-mediated, free-for-all conversations are just as likely to polarize the discussions as to bring us together.
We should not be surprised.