Anti-social media

By Harold Walker

The rapid technical advance in communications, particularly social media (which I have from the outset not entirely jokingly called “anti-social” media), has enabled all kinds of people to assemble large pressure groups at great speed. The speed may be accompanied by a lack of factual basis or evidence.

Further, the fact that people can contribute to campaigns anonymously has brought out the worst in human nature.

So far, democratic authorities have shown themselves unable to compete in terms of either substance or speed or response. They need to show more self-confidence, more robustness in the face of populist pressures.

Apart from this question of mind-set, those who believe in democracy (in the case of the UK, parliamentary democracy) now need to preach its virtues, which until recently have been taken as not needing to be defended. Governments, think-tanks, academics, well-meaning media (they do exist) will have to be mobilised.

The government will need to spend more resources on defending new policies with social media of their own, and on producing swift responses to ill-thought-out pressures.

Government will also need to check that civics, or whatever it is now called, is being effectively taught in schools.

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