It’s getting harder to write a newspaper column. Unlike social media lords, I can’t write two columns for the two Americas, and have exactly the correct people from the correct information silos pick up each version. Social media companies can do that, though, and they’re ruining society.

Last month, I wrote to say that, in brief, I don’t think we’re going to reach any “climate targets” on reducing fossil fuels in the near future. Evidence makes that clear. For it, some commenters assumed I must be a “climate change denier.” I’m not. Another wrote politely to say he could not understand how a man who coordinated Cumberland’s town wide litter cleanup each spring could not be an environmentalist. Actually, I think I am.

A friend texted me a few days later. “Do (commenters) actually read your column?” he asked. And so, thankfully, I wasn’t alone in wondering the same thing. It seems to me people on both sides wait to be “triggered” by something they don’t like, and sound off about it. I admit, I’ve done it myself on a few newspaper stories. I’m not on social media, though. Never was. Never will be.

So what do I mean by “both sides?” Like many older Americans, those who remember our country before the year 2000, we’re shocked and saddened by the political polarization. It was never this way in our younger lives, and we don’t know how to stop it. It is tearing family members apart and driving lies and misinformation into our heads at breakneck speed.

If you live in America today, and use social media daily, your brain has been hacked. You are, probably unwittingly, on “team red” or “team blue.” You’re angry, and you can’t understand how members of the other team can be so ignorant.

I hope you have Netflix. If you do, please watch the 2020 documentary “The Social Dilemma.” It will tell you all you need to know about social media, and how it has addicted and misinformed tens of millions of Americans on both teams. It’s ruining our kids. Middle school suicide is growing. We know it’s true; we see it everywhere. Families ignoring each other in restaurants. The constant thirst for Facebook “likes.” The pitched political battles. Health “experts” we no longer trust. Madness is everywhere.

“The Social Dilemma” explains – through the words of the brilliant men and women who created Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more, how companies born to “do good” have, in the search for profitability, created instead products that steal your thoughts, and predict your every online move. All of it is to keep you trapped, and thirsting for more, inside your “red” or “blue” information silo. And with ads, they make billions of dollars doing it.

I certainly am not perfect with facts, but my words don’t matter much. I was stunned, however, when just a few weeks ago Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said what were obviously false facts in public testimony regarding COVID vaccine mandates. I know “regular people” on both sides are getting facts wrong, but not a Supreme Court justice!

The damage to our society is incalculable and getting worse by the day. Most of these people at the very top of social media companies will not let their children have smartphones. What does that tell you?

Concluded Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, “If we don’t agree on what is true, and that there is such a thing as truth, we’re toast.”

Sadly, that’s exactly where we are heading, and so far, nothing is slowing it.

Ward founded The Valley Breeze with Publisher James Quinn in 1996.

(7) comments

P

A big +1 to watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix. It's eerie and scary how social media affects us and how it operates. Quite eye opening.

albion123

" I was stunned, however, when just a few weeks ago Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said what were obviously false facts in public testimony regarding COVID vaccine mandates" What, exactly, did she say that you think is false? It would seem logical that you would cite specifically what you had a problem with, Tom.

Tom Ward

From CNN, no friend to conservatives, the following:

https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/11/politics/fact-check-sotomayor-mandate-covid-dinner-gorsuch/index.html

Her error was widely reported, even in "blue information silos" like CNN. I'm sorry you missed it.

Rest assured, I took no pleasure in seeing Justice Sotomayor make this mistake. While her ideology and mine are far apart, I respect deeply members of the U.S. Supreme Court. All of them. How did this happen to a person of her intellect? I don't know. But she was obviously misinformed, either through he own reading, or by an intern who also gets his/her information from dubious sources. We are all at risk from the misinformation that is everywhere....on both sides.

pluto239

Currently thinking about how far off the deep end you have to be to call CNN a "blue information silo".

dustinthewind

Why do you think your commenters are on one side or another? If write as though you and they are independent thinkers politics does not enter the conversation. The criticism regarding your previous column was that it was ill-informed and not local - as a simple google search will tell you what the CRMC is up to. Again, we get nonsense about facebook and google being the downfall of humanity rather than your insight as a leader of one of the few remaining local platforms available. There is so much going on in our own neighborhoods to talk about and you are giving space to facebook trolls that you claim to be above.

Pauline M Demers

Our Country's problems continue to mushroom out of proportion, due to “political correctness” and a lack of proper governmental leadership. The Social Media does not address the true issues which exist in our Country. They, instead, seek sensationalism and drama. Today's individuals do not have to use social media daily to be infected with the “team red” or “team blue” disease because our political climate had already begun to do this in our last presidential election in 2020. We must remember the “dark old days”, as they are often referred to by the Progressives, were not only negative in nature. Our lifestyle was encompassed by an environment of self-respect, moral liability, and a respect for the law, which doesn't exist today. AMEN!

dustinthewind

Thus, the only course of action is to destroy both teams. The Moderate party attempted this, but was DOA. Until, it is recognized that both teams are 2 sides of the same coin, nothing will change. Case in point - the 2020 presidential debates.... how hard is it to include the highest poling 3rd party candidate on the stage?

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