Modern technology opens channels of communication between all peoples. With a single tap, you can speak with, listen to, see and experience life with others who are worlds away. The globe is undeniably smaller than ever. Everyone has access, and equally, is accessible.
Our political conversation is heavily impacted by this new reality in one major way: Despite the amazing new possibilities, the "prosumer" chooses to engage only in worlds they are already a part of — or interested in. Thus, they confine themselves to their own personal bubble of information. This is a well-known scientific phenomenon.
People do not turn to mass media to shape new opinions. On the contrary. Most people turn to media to seek reinforcement to their ore-existing convictions. In other words, two people can be exposed to the very same political text, opinion, speech, image or argument — but each will ultimately draw entirely different conclusions.
The study of media influence has yet to discover where and how exactly the conversion of opinion happens — but one thing we know for sure — prosumers do not like to be pushed out of their "comfort zone."
In response, media organizations, in an attempt to consolidate their base, have become even more loyal to their political agenda, visible, assertive, bold and at times aggressive.
This phenomenon takes place especially in the dying world of print, but not exclusively. It has also taken place within the mainstream television networks.
Thus, they all became predictable, consistently repeating the same positions and arguments. This transition, into the world of "niche media," occurred within less than a decade, and began with the rise of the Internet as a massively popular platform in the mid-1990’s.
Once media organizations became so predictable, catering only to their known base, they in fact lost the ability to cross over and gain more influence. This is how we ended up here: a never-ending political cacophony with very little ability to truly influence.
This goes way beyond news and opinion. Every tech company designs its analytics so that you only see what you are already interested in. Your newsfeed or home page reflects your search history, "likes" and online shopping habits.
Just like cable news, where despite a myriad of options, liberals and conservatives actively choose to watch programs that already conform to their own worldview, this new generation’s reliance on new media ensconces themselves in worlds they already know.
Ambassador Ido Aharoni serves as a global distinguished professor at New York University’s School of International Relations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Ambassador Aharoni is a 25-year veteran of Israel’s Foreign service, a public diplomacy specialist, founder of the Brand Israel program and a well-known nation branding practitioner. He is the founder of Emerson Rigby Ltd., an Israel-based consultancy firm specializing in non-product branding and positioning. Ambassador Aharoni, who served as Israel's longest serving consul-general in New York and the tristate area for six years, oversaw the operations of Israel’s largest diplomatic mission worldwide. Ambassador Aharoni joined Israel’s Foreign Service in the summer of 1991 and held two other overseas positions in Los Angeles (1994-1998) and in New York (2001-2005). He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University (Film, TV, Sociology and Social Anthropology) and Emerson College (Master’s in Mass Communications and Media Studies). At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem he attended the special Foreign Service program in Government and Diplomacy. To reach more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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