How does Obama tie social media, racism, and the democracy together?

February 27, 2017
Stephanie Nam  Los Alamitos High School 10th Grade

Stephanie Nam
Los Alamitos High School
10th Grade

“We become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”

In former President Obama’s farewell address, he mentions that the wide usage of social media has prevented people from accepting the foundation of each other’s beliefs. Although one may believe that social media helps to inform about current global events, that is not true. You will only see what you like and what a majority of people like. Because people are quick to assert their opinion, many are led to accept that opinion as the only right reaction. Furthermore, with the constant cycle of feeds based on one’s preferred genre, social media platforms isolate and do not provide the chance to explore the possibilities of other perspectives. As asserted by Obama, this isolation is one of the main causes for raw and bold prejudice as well as stratification in the population and in the economy.

So how does this connect with equality?

As a result of confinement to one’s own preferences, classification between racial groups becomes inevitable. The Public Religion Research Institute has shown that 75% of white Americans have confined their peer circle to only whites (BBC). Racism still remains as a major issue in society with social media being one of its most significant contributors. Even though the first African-American president has a 60% approval rating after running two consecutive terms, racial relations are still filled with tension and antagonism (CNN).

Racism is one of the main threats to America’s democracy. Obama stresses that “politics is a battle of ideas…without a willingness to…concede that your opponent is making a fair point…we’ll keep talking past each other.” Compromise is the key to maintaining stable structure while representing all of the people’s views. The protection of our government follows the citizens’ openness to accept at least the basis of other ideas. In order to stimulate further change in America’s social divide, Obama made racism one of the main themes in his farewell address. As the past president has urged, stop social media from becoming an obstacle, and open up to different social groups and their ideas.

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