A few years back, when social media was in its infancy and people were thinking about its potential to change the world, we imagined all the ways that it would help to bring us together. Easy and instant communication with people from all over the planet would surely break down the artificial borders constructed between us, and lead to greater cultural exchange, mutual understanding and a shared humanity that could help us to solve the bigger global problems that affect us all.
Sadly, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Sure, there have been some great examples of social media being a force for the common good, but ultimately we are a tribal species, and we seem to prefer segregating ourselves into smaller and ever more niche groups in the virtual as well as the physical world.
So what happens then? Well, our tribal loyalties become entrenched, and we feel increasingly empowered by our ‘in’ group. Instead of reaching out to share and learn from others, we shout at each other from behind the safety of our screens and spread fake news that only supports our own narrow political aims. You only have to look at the polarized societies of the U.S and the UK to see the evidence of this.